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, chefs assemble grilled and deli-style hoagies and bake calzones and pizzas 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.
Ledo Pizza has pizza-making down to a science. After all, the restaurant has been doing it since 1955. Now a franchise, all of its locales still have one major thing in common: the square pizza. Although round pies tend to be more common today, in the '50s, rectangular baking pans were the thing?and Ledo Pizza decided to stick with it, as it actually means more pizza for the customers anyway. Ledo Pizza's other trademark: thick pepperoni, another tradition that began out of practicality but stuck around due to the customers' love of it. While not every one of the square pizzas has to have the thick-cut pepperoni, they all share the same beginnings, as they are rolled-to-order with fresh, handmade dough topped with high-quality cheese and tomatoes. Subs, salads, bread sticks, stromboli, and specialty entrees also abound on the menu, leaving customers happy and full.
Bill Sioutis founded the first Gondolier location in Cleveland, Tennessee, in 1974 as a place for families to gather and enjoy a rich menu of Italian and Greek specialties. Decades later, the traditional and white pizzas still use homemade dough made fresh daily and come covered with tasty toppings, such as barbecue chicken, eggplant, and artichoke. That same dough puffs up to form calzones stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta, and various toppings. Ovens bubble cheese over baked pasta dishes ranging from lasagna and ravioli to spaghetti, and Hellenic recipes rear their heads in the form of gyros, chicken souvlaki, and greek bruschetta, a blend of tomatoes, feta, kalamata olives, and drachmas.
After moving from Greece in 1950, the six Fotopoulos brothers turned their hard-won earnings into the first of 12 ABC Pizza locations in 1966. From its humble beginnings in Connecticut, the chain grew to serve central Floridians and vacationing time travelers a menu of build-your-own pizzas topped with gourmet ingredients such as crab, feta, and shrimp, as well as preconceptualized specialty pies festooned with meats, seafood, and Mediterranean morsels. Hearty grinders and Italian pasta dishes share menu real estate with Greek delicacies including gyros, spinach pies, and grape leaves stuffed with shredded pages of Plato's Republic.
Papa John's has carefully crafted a menu of specialty pizzas to satisfy any taste or mouth shape. Order a Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, or go all-out and get The Works, a top-heavy combination of pepperoni, ham, spicy Italian sausage, fresh-sliced onions, green peppers, gourmet baby portabella mushrooms, and ripe black olives. Satisfy herbivores and herbivoyeurs with a Tuscan Six-Cheese or Garden Fresh pie. The full list of specialty pizzas includes several more; take the hassle out of haggling over individual ingredients and boldly cast your straight-ticket ballot for the pizza party that your conscious dictates.
Sam's New York Pizza tantalizes taste buds with pizzas, cheesy baked pastas, and piping-hot subs alongside satisfying pub dishes of wings and pepperoni rolls. The chefs pride themselves on creating homestyle Italian cuisine that includes savory dishes of eggplant and chicken parmesan and thick-crust Sicilian pizzas. For kids’ birthday parties, they’ll even arrange toppings on pizza to look like SpongeBob’s or Herbert Hoover’s face.