While working at a national pizza chain, Scott Gittrich looked at the palette of ingredients around him and wondered why pizza seemed so limited. Then in 1991 he got his chance to experiment. He opened the first Toppers Pizza, combining a fun, party-fueling atmosphere with edible concoctions that topped housemade dough with unexpected delicacies such as mac ‘n' cheese and a deconstructed gyro. More than 19 house specialty pies make use of freshly kneaded dough, transporting classic recipes and unheard-of combinations to get people excited about pizza again. And the people respond, enjoying the treats as much as Scott himself, who once went 60 days eating at least one meal a day from Toppers.
Today Toppers Pizza stretches across the country, peppering the Midwest and reaching to the East Coast. Along with pizzas, the cooks oven-toast their grinder sandwiches, which are built on artisanal french bread and stuffed with ingredients such as chipotle chicken and italian sausage. Signature Topperstix—breadsticks adorned with cheese, garlic butter, and toppings such as bacon and pepperoni—accompany pizza orders, silencing rumbling bellies until the early morning.
Papa John's has carefully crafted a menu of specialty pizzas to satisfy any taste or mouth shape. Order a Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, or go all-out and get The Works, a top-heavy combination of pepperoni, ham, spicy Italian sausage, fresh-sliced onions, green peppers, gourmet baby portabella mushrooms, and ripe black olives. Satisfy herbivores and herbivoyeurs with a Tuscan Six-Cheese or Garden Fresh pie. The full list of specialty pizzas includes several more; take the hassle out of haggling over individual ingredients and boldly cast your straight-ticket ballot for the pizza party that your conscious dictates.
Regatta 220 regales jaded restaurant veterans with a singular, elegant menu full of freshly assembled New American fare constructed from locally harvested produce when possible. Gluten-free edamame works great as a shareable starter ($3.99), and a veggie-flanked 10-ounce Angus sirloin awaits those on a meaty un-diet ($18.99). Baked cod served with spinach hashbrowns lands its succulent hooks into diners' taste buds ($15.99), and burgers such as the jalapeño-laden firecracker burger ($8.99) or the barbecue bacon cheeseburger ($8.99) tempt with tasty variations on the most American meal outside of flag-pin pudding. Vegetarian options abound, such as the portobello mushroom sandwich ($9.49), and an extensive wine list lets guests sip a glass of 2009 Canyon Road chardonnay to loosen their tongues before limericking their way out of awkward conversations ($5).
With more than 30 years’ experience in the pie-to-oven-to-stomach transportation business, Godfather's family-friendly establishment delights customers with a menu of specialty pies, salads, wings, and other Italian delights. Pizzas range from the mini 6-inch cheese ($3.99) to the large 14-inch classic combo, where the naked pizza frolics in a garden of veggies and then is bombarded with pepperoni, beef, sausage, and flashbulbs from starved paparazzi ($16.99). Customize pies to preferred levels of deliciousness by choosing a crust—golden (buttery pan-style) or thin (light and crispy)—then gather an outfit of pie-packers from a lineup of italian sausage, pineapple, jalapeños, mushrooms, and more. For more three-dimensional fare, feel free to load up on buffalo wings ($4.99/six) or garlic bread ($2.49/four) or deep-fry a copy of Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.
Owners Brian Glassel and Tim Nicholson eventually teamed up to bring Glass Nickel Pizza Co. to fruition in 1997 after spending their teenage years working around the nostalgic aromas of baking pizzas in Wisconsin eateries. They met while working in the same pizzeria and shared a passion for gourmet pies, so they spent a year planning and dreaming. Then they gathered a small but dedicated team to flip the saucy dough and accommodate patrons with first-class customer service, including the provision of tall glasses brimming with cold beer. Their dedication to this modus operandi helped the restaurant to bloom into a statewide fixture with several locations throughout Wisconsin.
While keeping pizza the star of the menu, Brian and Tim augmented it by adding battered-fish baskets, meaty lasagnas, stacked sandwiches, and crispy chicken. Committed to quality, the duo uses house-made sauce and dough, as well as Boar?s Head deli meats. With an equal commitment to their community, they help to support various nonprofit organizations and keep all their restaurants green through the use of ovens that shut off when not in use, energy-efficient appliances, LED lighting, and cars that run on used vegetable oil and time-travel only when absolutely necessary.
On the front of Luigi’s menu, patrons read an Italian adage: a day without pasta is like a day without sunshine. It’s fitting then, that they serve more than 20 different pasta dishes. Diners can select noodles entangled with hickory smoked bacon or baby clams, or entreat the kitchen to put together a favorite that’s not on the menu—if they have the ingredients, they’ll gladly make it. Elsewhere in the kitchen, a stone oven bakes pizzas built from fresh dough and tomatoes packaged within six hours of being plucked from the vine. Like the best-smelling apartments, creations can be decorated with custom toppings or signature blends such as mushrooms and thinly sliced steak.