More than 50 years go, Mike Ilitch was poised for major-league glory. An up-and-coming shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, his baseball finesse was blossoming when an injury derailed his sports career. But although the wound stunted his athletic aspirations, it steered him toward a new path, and on May 8, 1959, he and his wife opened the first Little Caesar's location, a then-unheard-of carryout-only joint. The career shift and novel technique eventually proved triumphant—today, the pizzeria's iconic, toga-clad mascot adorns storefronts on five continents. In each shop, staffers forge the signature Hot-N-Ready pizza, a freshly baked pie designed for instant pick-up, and warm, garlicky Crazy Bread. With a storied half-century under their belt, Mike Ilitch and his family strive to give back, supporting local organizations and creating its own charitable programs.
Papa Murphy’s, the highest-ranking pizza chain in the 2010 Zagat Fast-Food Survey, serves up a tasty menu of handmade take 'n’ bake pizzas made from dough, cheese, meat, and veggies that are freshly prepared every day. After customers choose their pie, Papa Murphy's slice-slingers build the pizza in-store and 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 any family-sized signature pizza, including the Cowboy piled with pepperoni, italian sausage, mushrooms, and black olives, or the gourmet vegetarian, which bears an herbivorous cornucopia including spinach, zucchini, artichoke hearts, and more. A pound of cookie dough speckled with Hershey's chocolate chips blossoms into crisp melty discs in the oven, which can be munched on after dinner or tossed at neighborhood kids attempting to steal leftover pizza slices.
Pizza Plus serves up specialty pizzas, light entrees, pastas, platters, and more from its hearty menu. Open up with an appetizer of Jason’s loaded fries, smothered in bacon and cheddar cheese with a side of ranch ($3.99). Then try a specialty large such as the Falcon, with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, onions, tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, and black olives, or the Hawaiian Luau, with smoked ham, bacon, pineapple, onions, and green peppers ($10.99 each). For diners seeking stomach enlightenment, Pizza Plus offers lighter-side selections such as the grilled-chicken platter with steamed veggies ($6.99), as well as a full burger bar with classic sandwiches and specialty patties such as the Mexi-Cali burger, a quarter-pound patty with pepper jack and jalapeños ($4.29).
At Nick's Ristorante, Nick and Sherry Mikus emulate northern Italian recipes inspired by more than four decades of international traveling. In the kitchen, Chef Gerald works from a menu featuring dishes such as the Angel Hair Pasta Nicky, with shrimp, pasta, and thyme sautéed in a white-wine sauce with oregano and tomatoes. Certified Angus beef in cuts ranging from 12 to 20 ounces—voted Best Steak in North Alabama by the Alabama Cattlemen's Association—arrive with wedge salads and garlic mashed potatoes.
To allow guests to fully enjoy the flavors in these hearty Italian entrees, Nick's Ristorante's decor features oodles of elegance. Glass pendant lamps hang above the dining room from wrought-iron columns, where they cast a soft glow over the crisp black tablecloths that double as capes for hungry Batmen. Wines from around the world complement each meal, and patrons can slip into Nick's Ristorante's lounge to sample cigars from Perdomo, Victor Sinclair, and other producers.
Growing up in Long Island, founder Tommy Bergin lived amid a bounty of crispy thin New York-style pizza. When he moved to Huntsville, he created his own piece of home through Tommy’s Pizza, which attracted attention from the Huntsville Times for its creative and classic pies. Tommy and his pizza chefs arrange feta, black olives, and artichoke hearts atop the Mediterranean pizza, and pile 11 toppings onto the Arsenal pie. At Little Pizza Maker Parties or educational outings, youngsters learn to stretch and toss their own pizza dough before dining on pizza customized precisely for the tastes of kids, like a tree fort with grape soda on tap.
At CiCi’s Pizza, feasters can sample hearty slices of pizza and a wide selection of buffet fare ($4.99 per person over 10 years of age), filling bellies like a pouch-stuffing kangaroo preparing to weather the harsh Australian winter. Offering endless helpings of fresh salads, tantalizing pastas, tasty desserts, and oven-fresh pizzas, CiCi’s tames the most voracious hunger attacks via all-you-can-eat tactics. Pizza dough is made fresh daily and doused in a savory sauce crafted from vine-ripened tomatoes and prescience-instilling spices, while salads are hand-tossed with the freshest ingredients delivered hourly via teleportation.