The cooks at Lanesplitter bake up a menu of New York–style pizzas and pocket-like calzones, and bartenders at the three pub locations pour a large selection of microbrews. An army of nearly 30 meaty, veggie, and vegan toppings stands ready to occupy thin neapolitan or thick sicilian crusts in combinations such as the herbivore's spinach, mushrooms, onions, and olives ($23.50 for a 19-inch) or the garbage pie's heaping mélange of spiced meats and crisper-drawer items ($27.50 for a 19-inch). The bar's taps have recently flowed with Racer 5 by Bear Republic, E.J. Phair's doppelbock, and hand-pumped Bombay by Boat IPA from Moonlight Brewing Company. Some locations host art openings, where diners and drinkers may admire photography, paintings, or mosaics made entirely of anchovies.
Rotten City gives a green-thumbed go-ahead to chow down on any of its organically infused creations. Tip your cap to the funghi pie with roasted cremini mushrooms tossed about toasted garlic chips under a blanketing trio of mozzarella, provolone, and parmigiano cheeses ($23 per pie, $3.50 per slice), or fall mouth first into a marinara pie featuring garden-rich basil, fresh thyme, and toasted garlic splashed with extra-virgin olive oil and salted by the sea ($19 per pie, $3 per slice). The bianco verde is a fan favorite, with its potent combination of fresh mozzarella, ricotta, parmigiano, arugula pesto, chili flakes, and olive oil. Carnivores can hang a fang on hand-crafted salami, crater-laden sausage, and salt-cured anchovies for an extra $3 per ingredient.
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
Four Star Pizza’s masterful pie artisans dole out steamy slices of pizza loaded with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella to complement hot sandwiches, wings, and baked italian pastas. Specialty pizza creations include an all-meat smorgasbord of pepperoni, beef, and canadian bacon and a greek pizza loaded with marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and ancient philosophical texts. Chefs make pies to-order daily in seven sizes, from the personal 8-inch pie to a massive 24-inch replica of a Roman chariot’s wheel.
Marzano aims to bring a bit of southern Italy to Oakland, creating an environment that the San Francisco Chronicle says, "Has a vibe that's as embracing as you'll find at the beloved family-owned trattorias in Italy." Although Executive Chef Douglas Borkowski and his team roll their own papardelle pasta and cure bacon in-house, the real star of the menu seems to be the traditional stone oven. The wood-fueled flames roast meatballs, snap peas in brown butter, and Neapolitan–style pizzas laden with everything from aged provolone and spicy, fennel-tinged sausage to cremini mushrooms and truffle oil. The Zagat-rated restaurant's rustic charm extends beyond the menu to the intimately sized dining room's ambiance. Brick walls and exposed wooden rafters complement country-style chandeliers, which are built from the staves of French wine barrels, according to the Chronicle's review. Opposite the row of tables sits a massive bar stocked with housemade bitters, Italian wines, and half-completed Sudoku puzzles.
White Christmas lights and a chandelier cast warm glows on the hardwood floors and white-linen cloths in Viva Vocé Café’s small dining room. Behind this elegant scene, chefs in the kitchen craft a lineup of traditional Italian dishes using simple, seasonal ingredients, including locally grown produce and quality olive oils. Chefs whip up caprese salads, margherita pizzas, pastas, and seafood entrees, which adults can pair with wine while their kids enjoy a beverage such as fruit juice, milk, or sippy cups of espresso.