After spending years working for Dominos Pizza, Vince Schmuhl decided that he could do a better job of preparing and delivering quality pies to people's homes. He challenged the nationwide chain's dominance in the region by founding the first Blackjack Pizza on June 29, 1983.
Although delivering oven-fresh pies within 30 minutes was still a major goal for Schmuhl, he emphasized the importance of quality ingredients using sauce made from freshly packed tomatoes as well as hand-tossed dough that never sees the inside of a freezer or cryogenic chamber. This dedication to quality and speedy service allowed Blackjack Pizza to not only survive, but also thrive over the decades. The chain now includes more than 40 stores operating in four different states.
In addition to offering seven signature pies, Blackjack Pizza also allows customers to build their own order from crust to toppings. A choice of up to four savory, tangy, and piquant sauces form the base, topped with any of the 3 available cheeses, 7 meats, and 10 freshly diced vegetables. Regardless of the toppings, Blackjack Pizza respects the potential danger of food allergies by ensuring that none of its pies ever contain traces of MSG, peanuts, or peanut oil.
With a signature pizza size called the Monster, you’d expect Pudge Brothers Pizza to be more focused on quantity than quality. But in fact, the chefs create their signature varieties of hand-tossed pies by blending together the flavors of three sauces, a range of meats, and fresh veggies. From within sizzling ovens, chefs pull out creations such as the Jersey Girl—a pizza featuring italian sausage and green peppers—or the White Delight—a ham, chicken, and garlic-sauce combination. Pies range in size from 10 inches to 18 inches, with a range of garlic bread, wings, and cinnamon bread to fill in a meal. The shop also offers delivery service, ensuring clients can have a hot, hearty meal when time is short or when the paparazzi won’t leave their front yard.
500 degrees. That precise number influences the family-style, New York?inspired pies at Abo's Pizza as much as their slightly spicy tomato sauce, 100% skim-milk mozzarella, and hand-tossed, never-frozen dough. Each pie emerges from the eatery's 500-degree brick oven crowned with a custom selection of toppings or one of 14 specialty medleys such as The Village, which features butter sauce, seasoned chicken, and artichoke hearts. Besides whole pies or 20-inch slices, Abo's specializes in pizzeria favorites such as garlic cheesy bread and chicken parmesan heroes that double as saucy masks for crime-fighting alter egos.
Borriello Brothers Pizza didn't just copy New York-style pizza—they imported it. Owned by New York natives, the pizza joint pays tribute to the city's staple, craftting their pizzas with attention to detail. Their sauce comes from California tomatoes, they only use 100% real whole milk mozzarella cheese, and they layer their pizzas with sausage made from prime cuts of pork. The result is a pie that grew out of original New York recipes, just as the city's skyscrapers sprout from cracks in the sidewalks. In addition to traditional NY-style pizzas, they serve Sicilian crust pizzas, and feature signature pies with toppings such as Genoa salami, sliced steak, and baked ziti. The menu also incorporates calzones, pastas, and other Italian specialties.
When most people think of Chicago-style pizza, they probably imagine a dense, deep-dish pie weighed down by an inches-thick layer of cheese. But the chefs at Nicolo's Pizza point to a different definition offered up by famed Chicago film critic Roger Ebert. In an interview with Vanity Fair , Ebert estimated that as much as 85 percent of Chicago's pizza is built upon a thin crust, and that what really sets the city's pies apart is the homemade sauces and crusts cooked up by Chicago's abundant Italian population.
That's exactly the type of Chicago-style pizza that Nicolo's has been dishing up for more than 30 years, using recipes born generations ago in Italy. Each thin or hand-rolled crust is made fresh every day, topped with a choice of sauce such as traditional red, alfredo, or garlicky extra virgin olive oil, then baked in an authentic stone-bottom oven. Patrons can choose their own ingredients––which range from artichoke hearts to green chilies––or choose one of the shop's specialties such as Buffalo Pie, a ranch-based pizza topped with chicken, celery, carrots, and mozzarella, or the Besto Pesto with Chicken, featuring chicken, black olives, artichoke hearts, and provolone cheese with a pesto sauce. Beyond the pizza pan, chefs painstakingly assemble layers of fresh noodles, ricotta, and sauce into classic meaty or vegetarian lasagna and slather chicken wings in a variety of sauces, including pomegranate chipotle and thai peanut.
Drawing from a supply of imported Greek ingredients and familiar Old-World recipes, Bucci's Greek & Italian Specialties' chefs forge a menu of homey Mediterranean cuisine that calls to mind visions of the old world’s tastiest traditions. Homemade tzatziki sauce crowns gyros stuffed with roasted beef and lamb or baked chicken, and the spanakopita's carefully assembled layers of spinach, feta, and phyllo pastry bake to a perfectly golden brown. These ingredients even influence the Italian specialties, creating pizzas with distinctive toppings of spinach, black olives, and feta or gyro meat, tomatoes, and onions. However, entrees such as the spicy sausage ravioli and the baked ziti maintain their hearty Italian roots by following the time-honored recipes first published in the Aeneid's appendices.
A trim of decorative vines circles the dining area, alluding to the trellises of Greek and Italian vineyards, and adding a verdant splash of color to the cherry-red walls and their framed artwork. A faux-stone archway separates the front and back halves of the room, and nearby potted plants add even more greenery to the space.