In creating Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, the owners sought to combine an upscale dining experience with tasty casual food, and so they came up with a foolproof formula: wood-fired brick ovens plus craft beers and microbrews. The ovens are used to create more than 22 specialty pizzas that come adorned with traditional Italian-style toppings or fun twists such as buffalo chicken, pimento cheese, or classic Thai flavors. To cater to everyone, they prepare their pies with traditional, whole-wheat, or gluten-free crust and aim to always have vegan cheese in the kitchen.
Just Pizza—family-owned for two generations—houses an old-fashioned brick oven, which slowly bakes hand-tossed pies to a chewy, crispy finish that occupies a happy medium between thin crust and deep dish. On February 5, the sports-minded staff supplies get-togethers with enough party fare to fuel marathon cheering sessions or celebrations lasting one hour for each year the president—the first president—has aged. Two large pies support a duo of toppings—such as pepperoni, hot dogs, or jalapenos—under a turf of stringy, gooey mozzarella. Between slices, guests can run routes around their fellow diners while clutching a basket of cheesy breadsticks and diving toward frosty two-liters of soda sitting on the table.
Flat-screen TVs display the game at Corner Slice's wood-paneled bar, where 10 bottled brews and 14 drafts, such as SweetWater IPA and Duck-Rabbit milk stout, fuel game-day cheers. Specialty pizzas including the Archer—with roasted red-pepper sauce, chicken, bacon, and red onions—anchor the menu (diners can also build their own or order by the slice). Though appetizers include sports-bar classics such as chicken wings and potato skins, the kitchen also sends forth innovative starters, such as baked breaded mac ‘n’ cheese bites and three flavors of crab dip. Patrons are welcome to munch oven-toasted subs, saucy wings, and pita wraps out on the patio tables, which are shaded from the jealous stares of passing birds by umbrellas.
Back in 1974, three undergrad friends in Atlanta, Georgia had a simple objective: to find a creative, progressive environment where they could enjoy the college staples of pizza and beer. When their search concluded without a spot they loved, the trio decided to open their own eclectic pizza joint in a beat-up building near the Georgia Tech campus. Today, their psychedelic pizza restaurant has locations throughout the US, with each eschewing a cookie-cutter feel by creating its own unique vibe.
The chefs specialize in gourmet pizzas, which come in eclectic flavors such as blue cheese, shrimp, and andouille sausage or chicken, cucumbers, and Thai chili sauce. Also on the menu are hearty, crusty hoagies and calzones, each with customizable options that allow clients to try out pairing ideas or see if tempeh and meatballs can coexist without canceling out all of existence itself. The shop caters to a range of dietary restrictions, offering seven styles of tofu and tempeh and vegan cheese, as well as gluten-free crusts and dough. Meals can be paired with any of the shop’s craft brews, and patrons who finish every variety receive an engraved mug, discounts, and a handshake from an employee dressed as Adolph Coors.
The pies at Tomato Jake’s Pizzeria have whimsical names that play off of pop-culture mafiosos and hint at fistfuls of grilled italian sausage, pepperoni, and crumbled meatballs. Fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and other toppings further cement ties to Italy, and forks twirl in plates of pasta and fresh garlic. In the kitchen, cooks prep party platters of subs, and the shop’s calzones brim with baby spinach, roma tomatoes, and virgin olive oil like the briefcase of a fake lawyer.
The Loop Pizza Grill’s founders, Mike and Terry Schneider, can credit a failed restaurant for the success of their current franchise. Though their first eatery, Applejacks, successfully drew crowds in Jacksonville, Florida, the couple hit a speed bump when they decided to open a second location. Unable to attract a following, it quickly closed, leaving them with restaurant equipment, debt, and a surplus of anxiety. Rather than accept defeat, the Schneiders instead thought of a new business plan, and with it, a new restaurant. Soon after, they opened The Loop Pizza Grill, a casual but upscale restaurant where customers could enjoy the convenience of fast food but with quality service—and absolutely no paper plates or plastic utensils. Named in honor of Chicago’s financial district—and Terry’s hometown—The Loop quickly expanded into new locations, and now has 20 restaurants across three different states. The Schneiders credit their continued success to a different way of thinking. Says Mike: “The key was that we simply asked, ‘What kind of restaurant would we like to take our family to?’ We wanted a place where hungry kids and discriminating gourmets would both leave happy.”