Although everyone knows that pizza fresh from a restaurant's kitchen is far superior to its grocery-store cousins, sometimes families don't have time to eat out. That's why Marina's Take 'N' Bake Pizza offers its pies not only to go, but uncooked, so they can be baked and eaten whenever a meal is needed. Staff members quickly assemble pizzas from the customizable menu, layering crusts with either red, herb, or creamy garlic sauce topped with a choice of ingredients, such as pineapple, jalapeños, bacon, and salami. The menu also includes a few fan favorites, such as the meat-stuffed pizza and the creamy garlic and bacon. Marina's doesn't stop at providing pizza, though. It also serves up salads and cookie dough to make an entire meal, ready after only a few minutes in the oven.
Starting out at one spot in 1979, the Pizza factory has since expanded to five states, baking up their reputable pies in more than 110 locations. In the kitchen at each restaurant, cooks roll out their own pizza dough from scratch daily, topping it with 100% mozzarella cheese, premium meats, and fresh local vegetables. In addition to customizable pies, they build eight gourmet pizzas, such as the spinach and garlic, and the greek, which sports green bell peppers, red onions, black olives, and crumbled feta cheese. They also prepare calzones, pastas, and seven “awesome” sub sandwiches with oven-roasted rolls, slices of provolone cheese, and tiny periscopes.
Santa Cruz Pizza Company's devoted discus artistes rise each morning to stir their secret-recipe sauce, craft their made-from-scratch dough, and then unite them to build an assorted menu of sumptuous pies. Regale ravenous tongue buds with the salami, pepperoni, sausage, and canadian bacon symphony that tops the meat combo pizza ($17.97 for an 11" pie), or aim lower on the food chain with the mushroom, artichoke, pesto sauce, and garlic ensemble that headlines the Garden Pesto Delight ($14.75 for an 11” pie). All large pies can be ordered in take-and-bake form ($3 off the menu price), granting oven enthusiasts and those plagued by spontaneous cheese cravings a greater amount of pizza autonomy. Chicago deep-dish and gluten-free options sate cravings for alternative crusts, and items such as the philly cheesesteak ($7.50) and the tuna sandwich ($6.50) raise the oft-overlooked banner for noncircular comestibles.
Redwood Pizzeria bakes up a savory menu of circle-centric eats, all crafted with organic pizza toppings, sauce, and dough. Edible architects can draft their own slices with a wealth of formidable pizza materials, including meaty toppings and locally sourced produce, and those drawing an artistic blank can opt for Redwood's savory specialty pies, such as the Greek, which dons a delectable dusting of feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts ($11.99/small). For less Euclidean cravings, Redwood boasts an eclectic assortment of hot baked dishes, including nachos ($7+), calzones ($9+), and organic vegetarian lasagna, which lets tired tongues make tasty base camp on layers of noodles, spinach, red onions, and zucchini before their ascent to its cheesy summit ($12). A selection of beers and local wines is also on hand to equip throats for lengthy conversations on the philosophical conundrums of beet canning.
As a child living at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Ralph DiTullio spent his Sunday afternoons brewing hearty sauces side by side with his grandfather in preparation for the family dinner. As the smell of tomatoes filled the kitchen, his mother and grandmother cut and boiled fresh pastas. On other occasions, he found himself in the cool darkness of the garage, where his grandfather smashed and fermented his own grapes to make wine. Today, nearly all the recipes at Nonno's Italian Cafe build on the hearty Italian dishes Ralph’s mother and grandmother used to make. In the small mountaintop cafe, Ralph cultivates this same sense of familial bonding with new patrons and usual crowds alike, proffering updates on current weather and traffic to callers from the valley below.
While Ralph begins each day crafting potato-filled breakfast burritos and freshly baked turnovers, his lunch and dinner menus transition into traditional Italian fare, such as pastas stuffed with cheese or topped with artichokes and meatballs. He and his culinary crew fire pizzas outside in a wood oven, stacking each with Mediterranean vegetables and barbecued meats with greater care than an artist painting a still-life jenga tower. Every Friday and Saturday, the staff fires up the barbecue for sizzling steaks and sausages. To complement both hearty and light fare, the culinary crew keeps a cellar of nearly 2,000 wine labels and up to 70 beers, replenishing their stock with selections from mostly small international vintners and brewers. They present a changing roster of these wines at weekly tastings to suit different themes and keep the wines from becoming codependent with the house crystal. While all sampling services are kept at small sizes indoors, they can spill outside to bocce-ball courts with courtside seating for up to 150.
When it comes to toppings, Hot Brick Pizza doesn’t scrimp. The restaurant offers limitless combinations of meats and veggies including sausage, spinach, and marinated mushrooms. But while the flavors come piled high, slices aren’t weighed down thanks to the shop’s healthy focus, which sees chefs using only unbleached whole-wheat flour for their dough and forcing each pepperoni to do 20 pushups before allowing it to rest atop melted cheese.