The United States isn't the only place where Italian immigrants have made an indelible mark on the local cuisine. But while American pizza generally errs on the side of thin crust, notes USA Today, Argentinian pizza starts with "thick, bready crust" crowned with heaps of onions and cheese. The Carrera family's Buenos Aires Pizzeria, the newspaper continues, walks "a middle ground" with a hand-tossed, medium-sized crust. Flavored with housemade tomato sauce or olive oil, these pies arrive topped with everything from spinach and prosciutto to chorizo and mint leaves, an ideal ingredient for pizza you'd rather kiss than eat. In addition to nearly 40 specialty pizzas, the eatery accommodates diners of all stripes with customizable pies and gluten-free crust.
Pizza isn't the only thing the Carrera clan crafts by hand. Made from scratch, traditional and open-faced empanadas sport nearly 30 fillings, from butternut squash and carrot to a medley of bacon, cheese, and fig. For dessert, try over 35 gelato flavors?such as chocolate almond and mango?made in-house daily. While cooks work tirelessly in the open kitchen, bartenders serve wines hailing exclusively from Argentina, including four varieties of malbec.
After spending years working for Dominos Pizza, Vince Schmuhl decided that he could do a better job of preparing and delivering quality pies to people's homes. He challenged the nationwide chain's dominance in the region by founding the first Blackjack Pizza on June 29, 1983.
Although delivering oven-fresh pies within 30 minutes was still a major goal for Schmuhl, he emphasized the importance of quality ingredients using sauce made from freshly packed tomatoes as well as hand-tossed dough that never sees the inside of a freezer or cryogenic chamber. This dedication to quality and speedy service allowed Blackjack Pizza to not only survive, but also thrive over the decades. The chain now includes more than 40 stores operating in four different states.
In addition to offering seven signature pies, Blackjack Pizza also allows customers to build their own order from crust to toppings. A choice of up to four savory, tangy, and piquant sauces form the base, topped with any of the 3 available cheeses, 7 meats, and 10 freshly diced vegetables. Regardless of the toppings, Blackjack Pizza respects the potential danger of food allergies by ensuring that none of its pies ever contain traces of MSG, peanuts, or peanut oil.
Starting at 5 p.m. each day, members of the Gilhooly family begin twirling doughy disks high in the air. These stewards of Oblio's Pizzeria then flick their creations into the oven and watch as the almost-tangible heat forms a 3-D platter complete with cheese, tomato sauce, and a bounty of toppings. Customizable pizzas come with one of three types of sauce—tomato, seasoned olive oil, or barbecue—and any of 23 available toppings, including canadian bacon, banana peppers, and salami. Specialty pies combine these treats into themed meals; the Giovanni features five meats, the Berkeley Blues has bountiful veggies, and the Santa Cruizin’ boasts Cali-inspired artichoke hearts and minced garlic. Patrons can watch all the action unfold, ogling their pies, lasagna, or meatball sandwiches as they take shape within the open kitchen. Those content with a little surprise can leave the cooking to the Gilhoolys and decamp to the sunny patio or sip luscious nectars from the vino bar as they wait.
Washington Park Grille's inviting interior, built from exposed brick and gleaming wood, draws in groups for hearty meals and after-work socializing. Bartenders fill snifters with single-malt scotches and mix dessert martinis to be sipped in the lounge or by the flickering light of an indoor fireplace. At lunch and dinner, guests choose from an assortment of Italian and American plates that won an OpenTable Diner's Choice award in 2011. Chefs infuse buffalo meatloaf with ground wild mushrooms and pair pappardelle pasta with rosemary-pesto sauce and meatballs made with Colorado lamb. They also prepare a menu of gluten-free plates?duck confit bruschetta, for example?and late-night pizzas. Brunch entrees such as roast prime rib with eggs provide a better reason to get up early than Al Roker?s secret coded messages sent through the television.
Under the supervision of an experienced chef at Woody?s Tavern, crackling logs not only give pizza dough a crispy crunch, but also create complex, smoky flavors. Chefs top pizzas with specialty combinations, such as the California Dream's basil pesto and artichoke hearts or the Pep Pep Pepperoni's roasted poblanos and jalape?os, and use gluten-free crusts and big, round carrots for those with dietary restrictions. Customers can enjoy the slices by the pie or sample a variety at the shop?s featured all-you-can-eat salad, soup, and pizza bar. These dishes and their hearty half-pound burgers pair well with the 16 drafts on tap, award-winning wine, margaritas, and other cocktails from the bar.
The ovens at Joyce's Famous Pizza fire up seven days a week to bake fresh dough for the eatery?s sub sandwiches, filled calzones, and nine New York style specialty pizzas. Elsewhere in the kitchen, chefs toss crisp chef's salads with mushrooms, black olives, ham, and pepperoni and coat chicken wings with hot or barbecue sauce. Pasta specialties such as eggplant parmesan and lasagna help make the menu as well-rounded as a python after swallowing a beach ball.