In the kitchen at Mario’s Pizza, chefs heap cheese, steak, and sun-dried tomatoes onto oversize New York–style and sicilian pizza crusts. A white pizza covered in ricotta cheese, fresh garlic, and mozzarella reminds taste buds of eating a delicious snowman, and comes in sizes ranging from 10 inches to as large as 19 inches. Baked pasta and sandwiches, such as a philly steak or veal parmigiana, round out the menu.
In creating Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, the owners sought to combine an upscale dining experience with tasty casual food, and so they came up with a foolproof formula: wood-fired brick ovens plus craft beers and microbrews. The ovens are used to create more than 22 specialty pizzas that come adorned with traditional Italian-style toppings or fun twists such as buffalo chicken, pimento cheese, or classic Thai flavors. To cater to everyone, they prepare their pies with traditional, whole-wheat, or gluten-free crust and aim to always have vegan cheese in the kitchen.
Despite its rather insistent name, this second-generation pizza purveyor, serves its signature brick-oven pizzas alongside a variety of Italian dishes, and heaping helpings of friendly local flair. Starting with a crust that falls somewhere between thin and traditional hand-tossed, Just Pizza cooks each savory pie to-order, using fresh ingredients, house-made sauce, and premium mozzarella cheese sourced from only the most outwardly affectionate cows. Dress a large (14") cheese pizza ($10.75) with your favorite add-ons such as sausage (+ $1.25), pineapple (+ $1.25), hot dogs (+ $1.25), or a smaller cheese pizza (+ $9.75). Or, feed an entire army of slice-slingers with the five pound supreme pizza ($19.50), sporting supporting sustenance in the form of extra cheese, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black olives, beef, sausage, and pepperoni. For diners looking to dine beyond the realm of dough disks, Just Pizza complements its circular comestibles with a toothsome array of fresh salads (starting at $4), baked pastas ($5.50+), and calzones ($5.75+). Because it passed on the opportunity to call itself "Just Tables", Just Pizza is a carry-out only facility, arming patrons with piles of hot, aromatic eatables, and then sending them on their way to feast in the comfort of their own homes.
The pies at Tomato Jake’s Pizzeria have whimsical names that play off of pop-culture mafiosos and hint at fistfuls of grilled italian sausage, pepperoni, and crumbled meatballs. Fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and other toppings further cement ties to Italy, and forks twirl in plates of pasta and fresh garlic. In the kitchen, cooks prep party platters of subs, and the shop’s calzones brim with baby spinach, roma tomatoes, and virgin olive oil like the briefcase of a fake lawyer.
The Loop Pizza Grill’s founders, Mike and Terry Schneider, can credit a failed restaurant for the success of their current franchise. Though their first eatery, Applejacks, successfully drew crowds in Jacksonville, Florida, the couple hit a speed bump when they decided to open a second location. Unable to attract a following, it quickly closed, leaving them with restaurant equipment, debt, and a surplus of anxiety. Rather than accept defeat, the Schneiders instead thought of a new business plan, and with it, a new restaurant. Soon after, they opened The Loop Pizza Grill, a casual but upscale restaurant where customers could enjoy the convenience of fast food but with quality service—and absolutely no paper plates or plastic utensils. Named in honor of Chicago’s financial district—and Terry’s hometown—The Loop quickly expanded into new locations, and now has 20 restaurants across three different states. The Schneiders credit their continued success to a different way of thinking. Says Mike: “The key was that we simply asked, ‘What kind of restaurant would we like to take our family to?’ We wanted a place where hungry kids and discriminating gourmets would both leave happy.”
Devil’s Pizzeria wraps up appetites in pasta, wings, and pizzas prepared in an authentic New York style by its owner, a recent transplant from the borough of Brooklyn. Diners can construct their own dough frisbee by layering a thin-crust base ($8.95–$11.95) with toppings ($1.25–$2.00 each) such as pepperoni, fresh tomatoes, broccoli, and cheddar. Chefs line the stuffed meat pie ($18.95 large) with ham, pepperoni, sausage, and meatballs to insulate carnivores in case of vegetarian outbreaks, and the roma spinach ($15.95 large) unites spinach and tomatoes with creamy mozzarella and feta cheeses. Rev up appetites with a plate of fried ravioli ($4.79), or tie down wild forks with strands of spaghetti topped with meatballs, italian sausage, or mushrooms ($7.75). Flocks of mild, hot, or barbecue wings migrate to tables in formations of 10 ($6.99) to 50 ($30.99) to find warmer climates swaddled in customers' bellies.