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.
It must have been kismet. Mitch Rotolo?s last name means to ?roll? in Italian. As in to roll out dough. And that is exactly what Mitch did, founding his first Rotolo?s Pizza in 1996. His blossoming pizzeria?with 26 locations and growing?treats customers to pizzas crafted from housemade dough and sauce made fresh daily. The chefs top crusts with creative mixes, including a bacon cheeseburger pizza and the Muffaletta pie with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, salami, and olive salad. They also roll out an 18? crust with 10 different toppings that weighs a total of 5 pounds and feeds six people?more impressive numbers than seen at the Hulk's NFL tryouts. Pastas and warm sandwiches round out the menu.
The same love for pizza and beer that fueled three college students in 1974 transformed their lives as they expanded their business from one rundown building in Atlanta to 100 Mellow Mushroom restaurants across 15 states today. Each eatery owes its individual style to each location's being locally owned and operated, much like impressionist painters owed their individual style to their number of ears. In the kitchens, grilled and deli-style hoagies are assembled and calzones and pizzas baked in stone hearths using dough made with natural spring water. Though many of the restaurant's dishes have remained on the menu since its inception, the culinary crew frequently devises new, often gluten-free, dishes to keep senior-ranking pepperonis from becoming too powerful. Servers pair dishes with their location's own set of local brews, which fit into a collection of up to 100 microbrewed and imported beers on tap and in bottles. Brewers such as Bell's, Abita, and Dogfish Head are also featured in regular beer events.
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."
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.
Picklefish OldShell’s chef draws on 16 years of experience to season and sizzle pizzas, po boys, and burgers. Nibbles such as buffalo and barbecue wings or spinach-and-artichoke dip pave the way for cheesy pies such as the Great White, which spreads garlic-based sauce, fresh basil, and feta onto a crispy crust engraved with Herman Melville’s initials. Televisions flicker as diners bite into italian-sausage-and-ham-laden slices of the Big Pig or the gooey goodness of a hand-patted four-cheese burger. Bell peppers and grilled onions tickle the spine of a philly cheesesteak as live music simultaneously tickles ears on weekends.