One could say that the only thing husband and wife team Mark and Mary Beth Bentz love more than cooking is their hometown of Pittsburgh. When the duo opened their pizza shop in 2006, they decided to create a space dedicated to providing quality American eats to go or while catching the night’s Steelers game. The pair man the kitchen seven days a week, packing dough into a menu full of pizzas, calzones, and hoagies. To give clients a bit more of their Pennsylvania homeland, the pair also pour pints of local Iron City beer and sell cookbooks of classic Pittsburgh recipes divided by category and the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio Rivers.
Cooks at all of the Buck’s Pizza Downtown franchise locations mix fresh dough each day and sprinkle crusts with pure mozzarella cheese. Founder Lance Benton selects the tomatoes for the sauce, which are sun ripened in the Central Valley of California and watered from springs in the high Sierra mountains. In the restaurants’ kitchens, chefs top pies with the carefully chosen, fresh-cut produce as well as barbecue chicken, aged cheddar, fresh basil, and marinated steak. They also construct pies that simulate the experience of eating a chicken club sandwich, spinach alfredo, or a bacon cheeseburger. Oven-baked buns for hoagie sandwiches brim with ham, hard salami, and italian dressing like the poetry of hungry castaways on desert islands.
At Blind Mule, cooks infuse the flavors of the South into their casual menu of burgers and bar fare. They infuse extra smokiness into Cajun classics such as shrimp and grits and red beans and rice with the addition of Conecuh sausage, and they jazz up sandwiches with flavorful flourishes such as blackening spice and house-made sauces. A sudsy selection of domestic, imported, and intergalactic brews is also available to temper the spiciness of their Southern specialties.
Blind Mule also boasts an upstairs stage that hosts live blues, folk, and fusion melodies on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. As guests' toes tap, they can bask in the eye-catching splendor of the venue's vintage music memorabilia and local art, which Mobile Bay magazine described in its list of great destinations for a night on the town.
Tucked behind Leinkauf Elementary School, La Pizzeria has been lauded by Press-Register food editor David Holloway as "one of the best-kept secrets" in town. He praises owner Todd Henson's balance between Italian classics—pastas with housemade sauces and calzones among them—and creative menu contributions. A list of character-inspired gourmet pizzas includes the garlic-infused Bela Lugosi and the Sherlock Holmes, a mystery order whose toppings are chosen by the chef and cooked beneath a carefully aimed magnifying glass. Strewn with white tablecloths and still-life paintings, the low-lit interior features one private table, where Henson wagers "we've had a hundred proposals of marriage … over the years."
The friendly pie purveyors at Vitolli's hand-toss New York–style pizzas in front of yearning customers who peer into the open kitchen. Customize a 14-inch or 18-inch pizza with your choice of more than 20 toppings ($10.99–$17.99), from regular toppings such as Canadian bacon and banana peppers to specialty selections ($1 extra per topping) such as artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. A 16-inch whole stuffed “really stuffed” pizza ($27) can be filled with five or more of your favorite pizza supplements, making it an ideal way to smuggle toppings past pepperoni-sniffing dogs. The pizzeria's large menu also offers a variety of unpizzas, with the abundant array of Italian favorites including a meatball sandwich topped with marinara sauce and melted mozzarella ($5.95) and lemon-and-garlic-shrimp pasta in a crispy bacon alfredo sauce ($11.75). Supplement the feasting by flooding your gullet with a domestic bottle of brew ($2.75) or a soft drink ($1.75) that won’t challenge you to a fight for calling it “soft.”
Nestled in the heart of historic midtown Mobile, Ashland Midtown Pub catches the eyes of passersby with its pleasant open-air patio before ensnaring them with the irresistible wafting aromas of cheesy breadsticks, roasted garlic, and freshly baked pizzas and calzones. Once inside, guests perch upon cushy barstools, surrounded by colorful canvases and plates of piping-hot lasagna or fillets of ahi tuna and flaky blackened grouper. Diners polish off feasts of po’ boys or basil-and-bacon-crowned pizzas with frosty draft brews at the rustic, knotty-pine bartop. As they sup on meals of upscale pizzeria cuisine, patrons dance to the tunes of live musicians or enjoy the interior's fresh, clean air thanks to the pub's no-smoking and no-rudimentary-steam-engine policies.