Winners of Polk County News Chief's 2007 People's Choice award, Auburndale Pizza Company’s pie flingers toss together eclectic specialty-pizza combinations from a choice of four sauce bases and more than 20 meat and vegetable toppings. Sweet barbecue sauce swathes beef and bacon, welded by mozzarella and cheddar cheese in the BBQ Pizza Feast ($5.75 per slice for all specialty pizzas). Annette's Favorite Veggie binds garden denizens including green pepper, spinach, and tomato with enough ricotta and mozzarella to ensure the veggies don't grow up, run away, and join the salad. Customers tap into alchemical aspirations with a personally designed make-your-own pizza ($10.55+, $1.50 per topping), or boycott bread with Annette's No-Crust Pizza ($5.75 for up to 5 toppings), a 7-inch tin-baked amalgamation that forgoes dough for sauce and toppings lashed together with mozzarella latticework.
Primo's II Pizzeria treats mozzarella deficiencies with a menu packed with baked pastas, stromboli, hoagies, and three styles of pizza—square Sicilian, New York–style thin crust, and Chicago deep dish. Dough disciples can build their own pies ($9.99+) or choose from specialties such as The Works, a food frisbee loaded with pepperoni, sausage, onions, green peppers, and mushrooms ($15.99–$17.49). Carnivorous consumers satisfy protein quotas with meat lovers pizzas topped with pepperoni, bacon, smoked ham, and sausage ($16.99–$18.49). Stromboli serves as a massive dish of folded fantasy, enclosing sausage, pepperoni, vegetables, and marinara sauce, or as an efficient envelope for Italian expats to mail home Statue of Liberty key chains ($8.95–$13.50). Taste buds bellow with delight after devouring a dish of baked ziti ($10.95) or eggplant parmigiana ($7.99), and sweet teeth sing arias extolling the decadence of chocolate-chip-studded cannoli ($1.75–$3.50) and sfogliatelle pastries ($1.75). Enjoy meals inside Primo's II Pizzeria’s red, white, and green dining room or al fresco while reminiscing of time spent vacationing in Tuscan villas or cleaning Venetian blinds.
Pizza Fusion delivers pies in hybrid vehicles, uses eco-friendly cleaning products, gives discounts for recycled pizza boxes, donates to environmental causes, and uses utensils made from potatoes. Its planned moon base will have a limited delivery range but will be 100% carbon neutral.
Not every pizza place has a Wall of Fame, let alone a Wall of Shame. Pizza Xtreme, however, entreats customers with a dare that echoes its name: eat all 7 pounds of a one-topping, jumbo pie with the help of just one friend, and you've won the 28" Challenge. The rules demand that you get it all down in less than an hour, though, and as the Wall of Shame and pile of half-eaten pies testifies, this is no easy feat.
The kitchen team accommodates the more gastronomically reserved by making single servings of hand-tossed pizza, which it decorates with toppings such as italian sausage, grilled chicken, smoked gouda, and crumbled eggs. Chefs also bake specialty pies and non-pizza goodness, such as calzones, cube-shaped tomatoes, customizable pasta dishes, and oven-baked ciabatta sandwiches such as the pesto-strewn turkey artichoke. Pizza Xtreme’s staff also pours out a selection of wine and beer to complement the food.
Founded in New York by Salvatore Sorrentino and his two sons, Matteo’s Family Style Ristorante Italiano caters to culinary cravings with a menu of classic Italian cuisine complemented by a catalog of wine and creative cocktails. Write the introduction to a memorable meal with New York—baked clams ($12.95+) or calamari arrabbiata, swathed in a sauce of garlic, tomatoes, and red chili ($16.95+). Diners observe elegant performances as clusters of capellini or parties of penne synchronizingly swim together in sauces such as amatriciana ($16.95+) or bolognese ($16.95+).
Jointly owned by Italian and Brazilian chefs, Francesco’s Pizzeria divides its menu up according to the national origin of each dish. For a taste of Italy, diners can sink teeth into a traditional margherita pizza or Capricciosa pizza with calabrese sausage, while unique toppings of heart of palm, cinnamon, and guava denote a Brazilian pizza’s tropical roots.
Enormous front windows flood the brick-lined restaurant with light, illuminating plates covered in five styles of wings and hearty baked pastas. When not occupied chewing through a sub, guests can study the dining room’s irreverent framed pictures of cartoon vegetables dancing on cutting boards, lounging by the pool, and doing one another’s taxes.