Keith Dartez and Shannon Landry got the entrepreneurial itch after logging 50 combined years of experience in the pizza industry. After they decided to go into business for themselves, they soon decided they didn?t want to create a run of the mill pizza joint. They exercised their creativity, incorporating tried-and-true Cajun recipes into traditional pizzeria dishes. The fusion of flavors manifests in Cajun Pizza Place, where the duo top thin-crust pizza with Cajun staples such as shrimp, barbecue chicken, and spicy jalapenos, sided with Cajun favorites such as muffulettas and fried shrimp po-boys. The spicy kick of the hot-smoked sausages and gumbo can be cooled with seven varieties of draft beer or a hug from an icy polar bear.
Although they both hail from the Mediterranean, pizza and falafel don't often appear on the same menu. Diners at Rome's Pizza, however, might be prompted to wonder why—it turns out it's quite possible for one kitchen to carry both dishes off nicely. In a 2004 review, the Current's Alejandro Pérez praised the pesto pizza's "light, crispy crust and full-bodied flavor" and the falafel sandwich's "hot, crisp patties."
This juxtaposition isn't the only surprise on the extensive menu. Sure, you can get red sauce and pepperoni atop your pie, but Rome's specializes in white pizzas slicked with olive oil, herbs, and smoked garlic. Strombolis and calzones fold in on themselves to make for a hearty meal or a high-powered alternative to a water balloon, and sandwiches and pasta display the same love of big portions and off-the-beaten-path ingredients. On the Mediterranean side of the menu, there are also staples such as dolmas, hummus, and gyros.
Using the fresh lavender grown on their own ranch, Craig and Dana Stewart share the aroma therapeutic benefits of their favorite scent with a line of lavender-infused household products. Each handmade bar of soap, jar of culinary rub, and soy candle boasts a generous helping of lavender oil or the raw herb itself, allowing the calming aroma to permeate homes.
For the chefs at Cedro, every day starts the same way. As the sun rises over Austin, they roll out thin sheets of dough and proceed to cut or shape it into tagliatelle, orecchiette, and other handmade pastas. Though delicious on their own, these pastas serve mainly as the basis for tempting dishes such as ragu bolognese with reggiano cheese or carbonara with poached egg and smoky bacon.
While Cedro's handmade noodles have helped put this Italian restaurant on the map, they are hardly the only reason to visit. Others include sushi-grade salmon tartare, seafood risotto, and grilled pizzas topped with creative ingredients such as figs and gorgonzola cream. Owner James Sun apparently puts just as much thought into sourcing as he does into flavor, supporting local breweries, farmers, and garlic miners whenever possible.
While the heart of Johnny Carino's menu is rooted in genuine Italian traditions, forward-thinking creativity has birthed what they like to call their signature dishes. Led by executive chef Chris Peitersen, the seasoned kitchen staff blends fresh ingredients along with extra time to create high-quality, spiced Italian preparations. Diners will find entrees such as 16-layer lasagna with made-from-scratch sauce, and pizzas made with home-baked crust. Other signature choices include the spicy shrimp and chicken, baked stuffed mushrooms topped with house lemon basil cream sauce, and tiramisu made from the ground up. Entrees can be paired any selection from Carino's extensive wine list and drink menu.
The brother-sister team behind Rudino's Pizza and Grinders opened the eatery's first location in 1995 in Cary, North Carolina. They wanted to create a restaurant that incorporated an onsite bakery into its design, keeping the kitchen full of fresh, housemade dough for pizzas and sandwiches. It was a concept that proved successful, and now Rudino's has locations all across the country.
In these kitchens, cooks coat crusts with a sauce based on the duo's family recipe, and then layer on any number of ingredients?including fresh basil, jalape?os, and bacon. They also slide open-faced grinders into ovens after loading them with such sandwich fixings as italian sausage, salami, and fresh vegetables, which are never frozen, canned, or taken from a neighbor's crisper.