Johnny B’s friendly chefs welcome families to relax over a hand-tossed pie, baked wings, and hoagies in a festive, colorful dining room. Families sharing dinner glance over the menu to pick an appetizer such as baked salt-and-pepper wings or garlic-butter pretzel drops as addictive as stealing candy from babies. For pizza, the classic Big Toad is crowded with savory bacon, beef, and ham balanced with crunches of green pepper and black olive. An alternative to traditional mozzarella and tomato sauce, the Frozen Pond pie spreads a base of oil and garlic under tomatoes, onions, and three cheeses to bake a pie as cheesy as an Elvis impersonator raised on a dairy farm. A team of tasty wraps, hoagies, and pockets tempts diners to stray from the pizza list in favor of a buffalo-chicken wrap seasoned with ranch, Bulliard’s hot sauce, and gooey provolone or a Johnny’s club hoagie accepting membership from ham, cheese, turkey, and bacon, if it gets its act together. If diners drop in between Monday and Wednesday, they can split delicious desserts such as the house-favorite cinnamon drops.
New York-style thin-crust pizza headlines the menu at Market Street Pizza. Each disc is made to order in classic and creative combinations, such as the cheeseburger pie topped with dill-pickle chips and mustard or the super chicken pizza, which arrives dressed with mushrooms, bacon, provolone, and a bulletproof cape. Pizza toppings also take cover in calzones stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, and subs clench fillings inside white or wheat hoagie rolls.
Revolution Pizza & Ale House keeps its menu local by relying on fresh local pork and hand-selected produce, as well as stocking North Carolina craft beers. Revolution affirms its commitment to fresh food through the Italian phrase "Produzione Propria"—meaning "made in-house"—on its logo, along with an image of Demeter, the Greek goddess of harvest. All dishes are made from scratch on the premises, from the freshly baked pizza dough to the Mediterranean-style dishes such as eastern BBQ pork sandwiches, mushroom fettuccine, and housemade fresh mozzarella and focaccia bread. New beers are added to the mix weekly, with choices such as Big Boss Monkey Bizz-Ness, a Belgian-style ale from Raleigh that packs a Donkey Kong-sized punch with its 9% ABV and propensity to leave guests talking about their secret banana hoards.
Hawthorne's New York Pizza & Bar's dough-slingers serve a piping-hot menu of pasta, heroes, and hand-tossed pizzas, earning a 2011 Charlotte Magazine Voters' Choice award for best pizza. Edible disks are spooned with sauce and configured for specialty deliciousness with such options as the luau pizza⎯a blend of pineapple, bacon, smoked pulled pork, and caramelized onions wrapped up in a grass skirt ($9–$18)⎯and the Sicilian's thick, square crust clad only in mozzarella ($14.50). Herbs and gorgonzola cheese roam across hills of pasta and valleys stuffed with chicken or sausage in the gorgonzola pasta ($10.50), and the philly cheesesteak hero ($8.85) laces standard white american cheese with the illicit flavors of chipotle mayo. Chefs layer eggplant rollentini ($11) with a blend of mozzarella, ricotta, and romano cheeses before spackling it with pesto and oven-baking it to monumental deliciousness.
Cold Stone's ice cream, made fresh in stores every day, inhabits a quantum flux between soft-serve and traditional ice cream, with a rich, creamy texture that whispers tales of its super-premium quality as it glides over taste buds. The ice cream generously welcomes dozens of toppings, as traditional as crumbled cookies and chopped nuts. Choose your favorite ice cream from dozens of silky flavors, such as cake batter and mint. Then make certain no one will try and steal a taste by topping it protectively with brownies, gumballs, and cherry-pie filling. Whatever Frankencream you create, it'll be scooped cold off the grill into a freshly made waffle cone or bowl. Cold Stone's ice cream and toppings vary by season and location. The store also offers sorbet and an array of lighter toppings, such as fruit and honey. Ice-cream creations run between $4.59 and $5.29, depending on size.
Toppers Pizza uses house-made dough whipped up fresh every day to create its eclectic selection of 19 different house-specialty pizzas. Conventional pies such as the Ultimate Pepperoni Topper complement creative pizzas such as the Chicken Tuscano Topper, decorated with spinach, garlic-roasted tomatoes, feta cheese, and grilled chicken. All Toppers’ pizzas are capable of peaceful cohabitation with Topperstix, breadsticks covered in cheese, garlic butter, and toppings that range from bacon to taco meat. Eaters can amplify any 14-inch house pizza by turning it into a TallBoy—a pizza built upon a Topperstix crust. Both Toppers locations are open until at least 1 a.m. seven days a week, making them a convenient way to fuel up for a long night of berating constellations.