HotBox Pizza’s cooks adorn three varieties of hand-tossed dough canvases with six savory sauces, cheeses, and 26 toppings to create a menu of dine-in, takeout, and delivery pies. The signature HotBox combines double spicy pepperoni and banana peppers, and Big Al’s Fredo fights off pernicious poultry cravings with a combination of chicken, roma tomatoes, fresh spinach, and banana peppers. Aspiring pizza architects can blueprint their own pies by laying down traditional, thin, or multigrain foundations and selecting from six varieties of sauce-carpeting. Doughy disks simmer with mozzarella, ricotta, Wisconsin cheddar, or fontina cheeses to hold down up to four toppings such as pepperoni and artichoke hearts. Circle-eaters can also save room in their knapsacks or hollow shoe-heels for fresh salad and bundles of breadsticks that come with nacho-cheese, pizza, ranch, or garlic sauce, and wash down stubborn bites with refreshing slurps of soda.
Every day, the chefs at Cool River Pizza whip up a fresh batch of dough and bake it into pizzas, with gluten-free options available, topped with Real California Cheese and house-made sauce infused with more than seven herbs and spices. Freshly sliced vegetables and gourmet meats also crown specialty pies such as the Cool Ranch chicken, which plays hooky behind the oven to show off its ranch sauce and garlic chicken. To wash down the pies, pasta dishes, and salads, bartenders pour pints and pitchers of brews such as Coors Light, Sam Adams, and Blue Moon as diners watch sports games on large-screen TVs, play Wii on a 100-in. TV screen, hang out on the open patio, or live out fantasies of ancient gladiators' quiet evenings at home with a collection of board games.
The first thing you want to do with a hot pizza is dig in, but if you're so inclined, go ahead and count the pepperoni first. Donatos promises that every pepperoni pizza, sized large or larger, will have at least 100 slices of lean pepperoni spread across the pie. That's just one of the many flourishes that Donatos, founded in 1963, has used to distinguish itself from the rest. There's also its Edge to Edge promise: a guarantee that every pie will be loaded from one end to the other with toppings, from said pepperoni slices to family-recipe sausage to fresh, hand-cut veggies. Donatos' formula seems to have worked, as the once small Italian eatery now spans the nation with more than 150 locations.
Beyond its classic pizzas, Donatos offers many specialty pies, including its chicken spinach mozzarella and Mariachi beef. Each is framed with naturally smoked, aged provolone cheese on top and cornmeal-encrusted dough, from a 50-year old recipe, below. Donatos even offers gluten-free pizzas on its signature Udi's crust. For those searching out other Italian fare, the menu features robust stromboli stuffed with meats and cheeses, and hearty subs. And for dessert, Donatos creates its warm cinnamon brick-street bread, an oven-baked loaf of artisan pull-apart bread with cinnamon spread, streusel, and vanilla icing.
As a native of the McCordsville area, Randy Kinsey noticed a distinct lack of restaurants serving the kind of homestyle Italian cuisine that he craved. He began baking pies for a local pizzeria at the age of 15, steadily developing a mental rolodex of his own original recipes while amassing years of experience in the restaurant industry. In May of 2011, he finally set out to pursue his original passion by opening Kinsey's Italian Cafe and filling the menu with his personalized interpretations of Old-World staples, including housemade lasagna, hot italian sausage sandwiches, and Cajun shrimp alfredo.
The café's ambience embraces a similarly nostalgic feel, scoring meals in the neutral-toned dining room with the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. Meanwhile, the aromas of garlic and Italian herbs waft throughout the space with the grace of a yogi stretching in zero gravity.
Chefs at Apezza use fresh ingredients to craft their pizzas, breadsticks, and wings almost entirely from scratch. They hand-make batches of dough daily and adorn pizza crusts with three types of freshly grated cheese. Specialty pizzas such as the meat lovers slide out of old deck ovens sporting sausage made in-house from pork shoulder ground at Archer’s Meat Market. Garlic-butter breadsticks come with a choice of three made-from-scratch dipping sauces. These and other items from the menu eventually make their appearance at Apezza's polished wooden tables, where they're devoured in the glow of a wall-mounted flat-screen TV.
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 are poured from 16 craft-beer taps.