More than 50 years go, Mike Ilitch was poised for major-league glory. An up-and-coming shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, his baseball finesse was blossoming when an injury derailed his sports career. But although the wound stunted his athletic aspirations, it steered him toward a new path, and on May 8, 1959, he and his wife opened the first Little Caesars location, a then-unheard-of carry-out-only joint. The career shift and novel technique eventually proved triumphant. Today, the pizzeria's iconic, toga-clad mascot adorns storefronts on five continents. In each shop, staffers forge the signature Hot-N-Ready pizza, a freshly baked pizza designed for instant pickup, and warm, garlicky Crazy bread. With a storied half century under their belt, Mike Ilitch and his family strive to give back, supporting local organizations and creating their own charitable programs.
The young chefs have traded in their kitchen whites for cheery red and blue T-shirts, and their energetic chatter permeates the pizza parlor, where they work together to create unique pies. They dapple rounds of dough with boundary-pushing ingredients that range from alligator sausage and marinated steak to spicy peanut sauce and noodles. This dedication to whipping up peculiar pizzas—as well as pastas, sandwiches, and wings—is part of Pizza Schmizza’s mission to foster a relaxed, whimsical dining experience for everyone who sidles up to their counter. This family-friendly, merry environment helped earn the homegrown business more than 20 locations across the Pacific Northwest, making Pizza Schmizza franchises as easy to find as the Space Needle in a haystack.
At Brix Tavern, executive chef Kevin Kennedy stamps his unique fingerprint on American comfort food favorites, including brick-oven-fired artisan pizzas, local and fresh salads, and sandwiches. Like the cuisine, speciality cocktails are made with locally sourced ingredients, such as seasonal Oregon berries mixed with fresh lime and tequila. "You call it" martinis and wine specials are available during lunch service. According to Portland Monthly, the tavern stocks more than 30 canned beers in addition to a healthy selection on tap.
Patrons can enjoy the expansive exposed brick dining area or build a nest in the elevated living room loft, complete with comfy couches and leather chairs. Brix delivers on entertainment with flat-screen TVs, live musicians Thursdays, DJ sets on weekends, pool, and retro arcade games.
DeNicola's Italian Restaurant sprung up more than 30 years ago and leverages culinary experience to piece together appetizing Neapolitan- and Little Italy–inspired platters engineered from authentic Italian recipes. Instead of using their expertise to help children cheat on quizzes about the international wheat market, DeNicola’s chefs revolutionize humdrum pastas such as linguine by inventing a Linguine by the Sea tossed with seven sautéed prawns and seasoned with garlic, romano cheese, and lemon pepper. On the dessert menu, chocolate seduction cakes lure tongues into a sultry tango with its three layers of malleable sweetness.
The pie slingers at Pizanos Pizza toss, roll, and bake fresh dough into crispy disks, creating the perfect thin-crust canvas for traditional and adventurous pizza permutations. They mingle 100% mozzarella, made with whole milk directly from the mythical shores of Wisconsin, with their own tomato sauce recipe to create classic, specialty, and supreme pies. Customers can stroll in for a quick slice or have their chosen comestible delivered. The eatery also offers a slew of less Euclidean options, including salads, pasta, and sandwiches, and plays host to fundraisers and community events.