OK, not your uncle. "Bob's your uncle," a century-old British slang phrase, refers to anyone with a bright future, and if Executive Chef Sal Hnesh's previous endeavors are any indication, this restaurant can most certainly count "Bob" among its kin. Renowned for his pizza, Chef Hnesh, a 20-year veteran of the Iowa City culinary scene, hurls dough sky-high before peppering fresh ingredients across thin, medium-thick, pan, or stuffed-crust pies. The menu oscillates from gourmet pizza to homestyle comfort fare such as wisconsin tuna cakes and roast beef served on gravy-smothered sourdough. Gluten-free options are available, as are housemade desserts and freshly baked slices of apple pie.:m]]
Lorraine Williams is a firm believer in the power of positive energy. That's why she consulted a feng shui expert in China while designing her restaurant and why she named that restaurant after the Italian word for 12—the number around which we structure time, measurements, and music. Cafe Dodici has since thrived under her influence, attracting diners from far and wide with its good vibes and Italian meals. The Iowan even estimates that 85% of its visitors are from out of town, and recounts how an Illinois couple has stayed in the upstairs guest suite for Valentine's day for the last four years.
The menu keeps its dishes simple, steering clear of ingredients that tend to overwhelm the palate, such as salt, garlic, and Junior Mints. Instead, the kitchen lets its clove- and nutmeg-spiced tomato sauce speak for itself. In the sugo di carne, the sauce covers ground beef and pork mixed with tagliatelle pasta, but you can also order it as part of a classic: house-made meatballs and spaghetti. Other entrees include spinach- and gouda-stuffed chicken roulades, a roasted half-duck in an orange-rosemary glaze, and lobster-stuffed ravioli. And, should you stop by before dinnertime, the café serves lunch sandwiches as well as baked goods and coffee in its adjoining shop.
Old Chicago specializes in deep-dish pizzas and fresh pastas, with an extensive beer list to wash it all down. The sicilian pepperoni roll, a potent mix of pepperoni, pepper jack, mozzarella, green onion, and ranch dressing baked into a doughy fuselage ($7.99), leads an arsenal of appetizers equipped to soothe early hunger pangs. Eight offerings of pasta include the santorini, a motley crew of Mediterranean vegetables—black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic—lovingly embraced by romano-and-parmesan-garnished cavatappi noodles ($10.99). The "Chicago Seven" calzone packs a savory payload of sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, green peppers, red onion, and melted cheese ($9.99). Old Chicago diners can follow in the footsteps of famous pizza artist Vincent van Stuffedcrust by creating their own pies ($21.39 for a large with three toppings)—choose from over 40 toppings, including grilled steak, ricotta, and jalapeños—or pick from a list of eight specialty pizzas, such as the protein-packed meat me ($22.99 for a large) or its arch-nemesis, the malibu veggie ($19.99 for a large). Those pining for a tasty meal cap can indulge in OC's famous big cookie ($4.99), a frisbee-sized chocolate-chip treat served in a hot pizza pan.
Tubrosa Pizza's mission is "to have fun making the best damn pizza in town." By the looks of a menu filled with quirky creations such as a pie laden with nacho-cheese sauce, black olives, and crunchy chips, it seems that fun is being had. Delicious dough serves as the base for pies such as the simple margherita with chopped basil leaves or the tangy hawaiian barbecue-chicken pizza with pineapple and a box that doubles as a lei. Patrons can replace traditional tomato sauce with alfredo, barbecue, or buffalo sauce or opt for spaghetti or baked ziti instead. Tubrosa ends its menu on a sweet note with cinnamon or apple dessert pizzas.