As a high-school student working at a local pizzeria, John Schnatter often pondered how he would do things differently if he owned such a business himself. After graduating from college in 1983, he got his chance, knocking down the broom closet in his father’s tavern to create his own pizza-delivery business. Since then Papa John’s has grown to 3,500 restaurants in 50 states and 29 countries. At each location, cooks cover the signature hand-tossed crusts, made with high-protein flour and clear, filtered water, with tomato sauce from vine-ripened California tomatoes, then pile on locally sourced ingredients such as green peppers and onions. The emphasis on fresh ingredients extends to the 100% mozzarella cheese, beef, and pork, which are never artificially inflated with fillers or undeserved compliments. In addition to delivering pizzas, Papa John’s reaches out to the community with charity involvement, including partnering with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement to teach US students about entrepreneurship and the best method of capturing a wild roma tomato.
Nick’s Deli, Pizza, Roast Beef & Seafood’s sprawling menu, lauded in the Marlborough Patch, runs the gamut from dozens of themed pizzas and calzones to family-recipe roast-beef sandwiches. A steaming meatball sub stalks elusive hunger pangs with torpedoes of homemade ground meat and sonar-guided sprinklings of feta cheese, tomato, and lettuce ($5.55 for a small; $6.65 for a large). Crunchy romaine lettuce and croutons chaperone grilled chicken in the caesar-salad wrap ($6.25), and a gooey Spartan pizza sows feta, green pepper, and chicken in a tomato-laden field of dough ($9.99–$14.99), just as ancient Italian pizza farmers once sewed their fields with marinara-sauce seeds.
Leonardo Toia “desperately discouraged” his kids from going into the family business, but their passion won him over, and now they help run numerous locations of the family-friendly neighborhood pizzeria. While adults peruse a menu of American and Italian favorites, such as half-pound burgers or housemade pastas smothered in tomato sauce or cheese and bacon, children 8 and younger pick anything from a free menu. Clients who wish to dine inside the comfort of their own home or submarine can have Leona’s food delivered within 60 minutes of ordering.
Though Dino’s is a pizzeria at heart, they also pride themselves in their fresh-cut fries. And just as with the pizzas, customers can deck out the fries with an array of toppings—buffalo sauce and jalapenos ignite the Spice of Life fries, and the Hungry Man fries get bulked up with ground beef, cheese, sour cream, and flannel napkins. They pair nicely with the restaurant’s half-pound Angus burgers, as well as the fresh wings. Of course, much of the menu is devoted to pizza, and diners can build their own or order a specialty pie, such as the gyros with meat, onion, tomato, feta, and gyro sauce.
Puree's is a family-owned-and-operated eatery that captivates hunger with a menu featuring thin and deep-dish pizzas by the slice and by the pie, authentic Italian fare, and an array of other comestibles. Feast your stomach's eyes on gourmet thin crust selections ($10.95–$19.95) such as the grilled pizza—bedazzled in grilled eggplant, grilled chicken strips, roasted red peppers, and mozzarella cheese—or the Italian pizza, a mozzarella-melting pot of tomato, prosciutto, ricotta, and pesto. Appetite-architects can also choose to build their own pizza, with more than 25 toppings available. Stay afloat in the pool of hunger by latching onto a pasta dish such as the handmade lasagna ($9.95), rotini with mushrooms and broccoli ($9.95), or chicken parmesan ($10.95).
An elegant, warmly lit dining destination, La Bella brings old-world Italian flavors into tender meats, seafood, grains, and waft-worthy liquids. The dinner menu starts with starters such as classic bruschetta ($5.95) and adventurous grilled octopus ($11.95), then sets the moon on fire with main plates including New Zealand green-lip mussels laid on a bed of linguine with red or white sauce ($17.95) and pork chops oreganato, sautéed in a lemony, buttery, oreganoey blend and served with a stoplight's worth of peppers and vesuvio potatoes ($19.95). Pair any plate with a selection off La Bella's extensive wine list ($5.75–$10 per glass, $22–$45 per bottle), and save a few notches in the belt for authentic Italian desserts, including sweet, sweet spumone ($4), tiramisu ($6.95), and lava cake ($6.95), which contains no magma or tiki torches, but is served on a stable tectonic plate.