As a high-school student working at a local pizzeria, John Schnatter often pondered how he would do things differently if he owned such a business himself. After graduating from college in 1983, he got his chance, knocking down the broom closet in his father’s tavern to create his own pizza-delivery business. Since then Papa John’s Pizza has grown to 3,500 restaurants in 50 states and 29 countries. At each location, cooks cover the signature hand-tossed crusts, made with high-protein flour and clear, filtered water, with tomato sauce from vine-ripened California tomatoes, then pile on locally sourced ingredients such as green peppers and onions. The emphasis on fresh ingredients extends to the 100% mozzarella cheese, beef, and pork, which are never artificially inflated with fillers or undeserved compliments.
In addition to delivering pizzas, Papa John’s reaches out to the community with charity involvement, including partnering with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement to teach US students about entrepreneurship and the best method of capturing a wild roma tomato.
For more than 50 years, Round Table Pizza has fired up the appetites of flavor-starved foodies with a host of appetizers, crisp salads, and topping-laden disks. Dough is made from scratch using wheat sourced from the company's family farms, ensuring that the bready foundations of mainstays, such as the barbecue chicken pizza ($17.90 for a medium), are fresh and familiar with agricultural machinery. House creation King Arthur Supreme takes charge of nearby chompers, guiding them through an invasion of pepperoni, italian sausage, salami, linguica, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives, and more ($12.75 for a small). Meanwhile, the Wombo Combo tempts taste buds with crisp bacon, mushrooms, roma tomatoes, artichoke hearts, green onions, and a medley of magnanimously portioned meats ($7.30 for a personal size). Inspiration-stricken patrons can design their own pie or swing by the all-you-can-eat salad bar ($5.29) to adorn lush leaves with tasty toppings under the glow of the light bulb growing from their foreheads.
When her sister Zelda relocated from Chicago to Sacramento to open a pizzeria in 1978, Linda lent a helping hand. 32 years later, Linda decided to branch out on her own. At Linda's Pizzeria, she continues her sister's tradition of crafting Chicago-style pies topped with everything from savory sausage and Canadian bacon to seasoned spinach and crisp peppers. Linda and her culinary team whip up other classics like regular or gluten-free pasta tossed in meaty sauce to crispy chicken wings coated in teriyaki sauce. Beers and wine complement in-house feasts, though customers can also grab pre-cooked pies to bake at home or, if it's particularly hot, on their car hood in the parking lot.
In 1968, a decade after moving from Carlantino, Italy, to the United States, the Guerrera family opened its first restaurant. Today, all three Roma's Pizza and Pasta locations boast family members behind the counter and Old-World recipes on the menu. Tony Guerrera can still be found in the kitchen tossing the dough used to build Roma's specialty pizzas, which range in intensity from the elegant Bianca made with oil, garlic, and cheese up to the mega meat-combo pie piled with seven types of meat. A slate of hearty pastas hewn from similarly traditional ingredients gives diners an opportunity to show off the retractable forks scientists implanted in their hands.
Though Serritella's Italian Restaurant has tripled in size since opening in 1965, its chefs are still serving many of the same original dinner recipes—including veal and chicken marsalas and cheese-laden parmigianas. Tomato-red walls preview baked lasagna and marinara-ladled pizzas strewn with inventive topping options such as clams, artichoke hearts, and fresh anchovies. A wine menu at the polished wooden bar quenches thirst, and vintage framed artwork can be searched for the artist's secretly imbedded ATM pin.
With ingredients grown at local farms and in Maranello Restaurant's own garden, Chef Gabriel Glasier brings life to a mixture of traditional, regional, and contemporary Italian recipes drawn from the old world’s tastiest corners. His farm-to-table dishes change seasonally, with weather-appropriate items such as butternut squash ravioli and grilled Scottish salmon with cauliflower spaetzle gracing tables only when the time is right. Gabriel also tops hand-tossed pizza with grilled chicken and fire-roasted tomato sauce and crafts desserts such as a flaming s'more with homemade marshmallow and chocolate cashew butter cream.
To help wash down each hearty helping, mixologists behind Maranello Restaurant's antique 1920s bar whip up signature house cocktails, pull pints of draft beers, and pour reds and whites imported from Italy and made at small, regional California wineries. No matter the date on t he calendar, guests can savor their feasts at the bar, in the main dining room, or inside a covered, heated patio that maintains a constant outdoor vibe with abundant plants and tranquil fountains rather than roaming bears.