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.
Flavorsome ingredients and fresh, handmade dough marry in gourmet specialty pizzas such as Mr. C's Meat Lover's Stuffed Pizza Pie (pepperoni, salami, sausage, meatballs, beef, ham, and five cheeses, $18.49 for a 12-inch pie), the hot and spicy barbecue chicken ($12.49 for a 12-inch), and the vegetarian Pizza Bianca (Alfredo sauce, mozzarella, parmesan, romano, fresh basil, black pepper, and black olives, $11.49 for a 12-inch). Indulge in a plate of impeccably prepared pasta such as baked ziti ($10.99), or use this Groupon toward a family-sized portion of meat tortellini ($32.99 for four servings). Italian entree specialties include fettuccini Alfredo with shrimp ($9.99), spaghetti with clams tossed in either a light garlic-butter sauce or classic marinara ($10.99), and eggplant parmesan served with a side of spaghetti, garlic bread, and salad ($9.49). Subs, spicy wings, salads, and desserts round out the menu into a nicely round circle tastier than a traffic circle or rutabaga crop circle.
Rosati’s Pizza's history dates back to the early 1900s, when a recent Italian immigrant named Ferdinand Rosati moved from New York to Chicago with the dream of opening a restaurant. His first attempt was modest—with Ferdinand simultaneously fulfilling the duties of chef, server, dishwasher, and host—but quickly gained popularity for its crispy-thin-crust pizzas, originally served as complimentary appetizers. Encouraged by the public's response to the pies, Ferdinand and his son, Sam, decided to focus their efforts on opening a true pizzeria.
Today, at Rosati's Pizza locations across the country, plumes of heat swirl above piping-hot pies concocted from handmade sauce and dough. A smattering of toppings cling to five crust options—crispy thin, double dough, Chicago-style, pan, and superstuffed—as well as hide from their hungry predators inside hand-rolled calzones. Homemade lasagna and fettuccine alfredo battle for the top pasta spot, and fried chicken, baby back ribs, and fried-shrimp dinners work together to distract diners from hard-to-resist buffalo wings.
At Udi's, you'll find more than a dozen wood-fired pizzas, plus a wide variety of appetizers, salads, and desserts. Start with the hummus plate ($6), served with vegetables and house pizzetta, or wood-fired olives with balsamic ($4). Udi's offers an extensive offering of specialty pizzas. Try the mushroom with mozzarella, taleggio, Parmesan, and truffle oil ($14), or the soprasetta ($15) with dry-cured fennel salami, whole-milk mozzarella, and parsley.
City Pizza’s pie-tossing chefs deliver made-to-order, square-cut St. Louis–style pizzas to hungry patrons, covering each doughy delight in custom toppings. St. Louis's signature provel melts into a cheesy embrace around toppings such as canadian bacon, roasted green chilies, or Italian-seasoned tomatoes, adding international flair to each pie and stamping mouth passports. Fresh-rolled dough props up topping piles with cracker-thin crispness, and hand-crushed spices lend fragrant, flavorful body to the signature sweet sauce. To cram overtime taste-play into the Game Day package, fryers kiss beef-filled raviolis to a golden-brown perfection, before the toasted noodles receive a dusting of parmesan and a place kick straight into waiting mouths.