Sid Fanarof, inspired by the artists around him, sought to do something creative in the kitchen. ZPizza, which started in Laguna Beach and now has locations across the globe, fills with bustling chefs experimenting with ingredients traditionally associated with Indian, Californian, and Mexican cuisine. A parade of organic vegetables and skim-milk mozzarella from Wisconsin leads into the eateries, and organic wheat flour bakes over open flame to a crisp finish. “If you don’t hear the crunch, it’s not a ZPizza,” Fanarof says of the crusts on his website.
Chefs first slather the crusts with sweet basil pesto, roasted-garlic sauce, or organic tomato sauce. Their hands flutter across, sprinkling on fistfuls of toppings such as MSG-free pepperoni, additive-free sausage, three types of mushrooms, roasted eggplant, and pine nuts. Vegan cheese and gluten-free crusts allow everyone to enjoy the pizzas except for those trying to hide the fact that they superglued their mouths closed.
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
Diners customize their meals from Garlex Pizza and Ribs’ menu of pies and tender ribs with freshly made dough, five different pizza sauces, and three rib styles seasoned in house. Specialty pizzas ($8.99–$30.99) combine creamy white sauce, cooked tomatoes, and chicken-breast meat on the Spicy Chicken combo and fashion the Artichoke Delight by reuniting marinated artichoke hearts with their childhood friends on a zesty pesto base. Half racks of baby-back bones on the rib sample ($10.99) encourage eaters to smother faces from dimple to dimple with honey-barbecue, sweet-teriyaki, or hot-and-spicy sauce. Shy chipotle-chicken pasta plates drag along cheesy garlic-bread security blankets to soak up their kicked-up cream sauce dotted with kernels of sweet corn ($10.99).
Peek through Laurus Bistro's open-exhibition kitchen to watch executive chef Matthew Silverman concoct his contemporary Mediterranean fare, greeting diners with a fresh and daily-changing lunch and dinner menu. Pair an eligible spicy pita chip with the white-bean hummus ($9) or sip the truffled cauliflower bisque ($4–$8) to prime your mouth motors before revving up for the wood-fired pepperoni caesar flatbread, a savory dish with crisp romaine lettuce, shaved asiago, and tomato sauce ($6–$12). Alternatively, you can carefully snorkel through the bouillabaisse's broth to find mussels, clams, and halibut ($14–$25) or gently guide a flavorful flock of lamb Bolognese and tagliatelle ($9–$17) to your mouth pasture.
Cooks at Pavlo's Pizza and Pasta rise early each day to craft fresh pizza dough and sauce for their signature pies. The crisp circlets sport never-frozen ingredients including artichoke hearts, garlic, linguica, feta cheese, and pesto sauce. At large booths, silverware clatters percussively, and delivery drivers rush past, transporting pizzas to customers staying in for the evening or pretending not to be stuck in wet cement. Half racks of baby-back ribs share the tables with oven-baked sandwiches stuffed with house-made meatballs and marinara sauce.
Papa Murphy’s serves up a tasty menu of handmade take ‘n’ bake pizzas created using dough, cheese, meats, and veggies that are freshly prepared every day. After customers choose their pie, Papa Murphy's personable pizza fashioners will build the pizza in-store and then package it for customers to bake at home in the oven, in a pottery kiln, or over a pile of burning cookbooks. Customers can select one of Papa Murphy's signature pizzas or customize their pie to a more specific taste, culling from the four sauces, three crusts, and more than 20 toppings available.