In 1959, Straw Hat created the very first California pizza crust. Different from any other crust at the time, the layered, flaky bread crunched like a cracker and carried Straw Hat's signature sauce to mouths with ease. More than 50 years later, this recipe for hearty, flavorful pizzas has changed very little. But while Straw Hats' pizza twirlers still cover their crispy dough in a secret sauce, their menu has expanded to included hot wings, hot sandwiches, and a slew of beers. Diners can also pick and choose from the salad bar, which previously existed only in pizza-parlor legend. Straw Hat's locations often boast high-definition TVs, video arcades, and play places for children.
The culinary construction crew at Papa Murphy?s, rated the top fast-food pizza chain in Zagat's 2012 Fast-Food Survey, builds a tasty menu of customizable Take 'N' Bake pizzas that customers can bake in the comforts of their own homes. Visitors watch as the chefs assemble thin-crust, traditional, fresh pan, and stuffed pizzas in-store using fresh dough, one of four sauces, shredded cheese, and a choice of 24 toppings. The pizza artisans then package the handmade creations for customers to bring home and cook in kitchen ovens, on backyard grills, or over an overheated car engine. Papa Murphy's collection of comestibles complements circular meals with sides of bread, salad, and chocolate-chip-cookie-dough dessert.
Two decades after Mio Vicino cooked up its first plate of clam-dappled linguine, many of its original chefs still remain steadfast in the kitchen, mincing garlic, sculpting meatballs, and ribboning strands of housemade pasta. These culinary wizards have since refined their California-inspired italian pasta and pizza, earning recognition from CBS San Francisco for being a top South Bay pizza venue. Their kitchen abounds with energy and savory aromas as pans simmer with creamy sauces and ovens glow with artisanal meat and seafood.
In the dining room, surrounded by sun-yellow walls and exposed brick, parties dip crispy italian bread into pools of oil and freshly roasted garlic resting upon green-checkered tabletops. Light pours in through lofty windows and glimmers off glasses of fine wine and bottles of beer. The restaurant's private banquet room, meanwhile, boasts elegant chandeliers and a flat-screen television, making it an ideal venue for corporate lunches or exclusive screenings of the first 10 seasons of Dallas.
Though pizza hails from Italy, the cooks at GuGu's Pizza & Pasta aren't afraid to integrate flavors from other countries into their handcrafted pies. For instance, they pay homage to the Caribbean with ingredients such as chicken, bell peppers, and jerk seasonings, and evoke flavors of the Hawaiian islands with habaneros, pineapple, and Canadian bacon.
The cooks also think outside of the box when preparing their pastas. They use Jalapeno marinara sauce to spice up the penne arrabiata pasta, and speckle their spicy firecracker shrimp pasta with tricolored bell peppers and white wine sauce. Of course, they still prepare traditional pastas too, such as a meaty lasagna made from a family recipe. In addition to these classic and unique noodle dishes, they prepare a number of house-made selections, including meatball subs, garlic bread, and cannolis.
The expert dough crafters behind Pizza Party have perfected their menu of signature pies since beginning their storied pizza-making journey in 1962. All those years of experience and experimentation have yielded such creations as the Italian Supremo, which they outfit with Salami, ham, fresh sliced mushrooms, red onion, Italian sausage, and chopped garlic. They keep pushing the topping boundaries with the bacon chicken pizza, which they cover with ranch dressing, fresh tomatoes, grilled chicken, and crumbled bacon. To appease the hungriest customers, they whip up a 20-inch Belly Buster pizza with 36 slices that feed up to 10 people or one teenaged turtle. They also accommodate diets of all kinds with gluten-free pizza crusts and vegan cheese.
Vesuvio's Restaurant and Pizzeria first opened its doors in 1956, introducing Americans in the area to the Italian take on pizza pie, crafted in a wood-fired oven. Today, the same family bakes their pizzas in the same oven, pairing them with pasta dishes, veal entrees, and classic grinder sandwiches. They top tables with their dishes in a rustic dining room featuring murals of the Italian countryside, painted by local artist Greg Martin.