The dough flingers at Gina's Pizza & Italian Gourmet meld quality ingredients and 50-year-old family recipes to construct a menu of 18 signature pizzas and more than a dozen traditional pastas. Cuisine architects can build their own piescrapers with a base of made-from-scratch crust, furnish it with jalapeños, green olives, and banana peppers, and top it off with a cell-phone antenna. The Bianca pizza flaunts a fresh smattering of tomatoes, mushroom, spinach, as well as a creamy sauce blended from garlic, cheese, and herbs ($6–$20.50), and the breakfast pizza awakens senses with eggs, bacon, onions, and tomatoes ($6–$18.50). Gina's grub gurus sauce noodles in more than a dozen variations, such as baked ziti ($8.25) and fettuccini alfredo ($8.50), which is so rich and cheesy it's frequently mistaken for Neil Diamond. Diners can conclude Italian flavor sojourns by diving uvula-first into an espresso- and chocolate-infused piece of tiramisu ($3.99).
The Bistro combines the quaintness of a quiet café with the diverse menu of a larger, louder eatery. Corral some co-eaters and dive into a vat of cream-cheese dip enhanced with spinach and prosciutto ham, or just poke it with the points of the included garlic toast ($6.99). Tongues leap at the chance to sample cracked-black-pepper caesar salad, a legume-laden dish, rife with romaine hearts, croutons, and parmesan under a sheen of black pepper caesar dressing ($5.99), and chicken marsala reaches out to meat eaters with a dish of seasoned, broiled ex-clucker drizzled in the eatery's signature marsala wine sauce ($14.99). The Bistro's biggest draw is the brick-oven pizza, especially if you like the taste of brick ovens. Plunge into a mediterranean pie, with gobs of garlic and olive oil, chunks of chicken, spinach, artichokes, red onions, black olives, and a fiesta of feta and other cheeses ($13.99 for a small, $17.99 for a large). Or, start a natural disaster in your mouth by eating an Avalanche pizza, a doughy delight loaded with pepperoni, italian and pork sausage, ground beef, bacon, ham, onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers adrift on an ocean of marinara sauce ($13.99 for a small, $17.99 for a large). Picky pizzavores can also choose to construct their own pie (starting at $8.99) and enjoy it outside when the weather's in a good mood.
The eclectic assortment of unique pizzas and salads at zpizza houses all manner of fresh, health-conscious ingredients. The Thai pie lets spicy chicken splash with carrots and bean sprouts in a pool of peanut sauce, and the Casablanca hosts a color-coordinated collection of artichoke hearts, ricotta, and mushrooms atop roasted garlic sauce. Wheat- or a dairy-free, certified organic crust waits eagerly to pinch hit for every pizza on the menu including the Berkeley Vegan topped with veggie burger crumbles, vegan cheese, and, like a farmer daughter’s tea parties, hosts five different vegetables.
Tony's Pizzalicious has dished out hearty Italian food since 1967. By tossing dough and ladling house-made sauce, the chefs create their namesake pies in styles such as the meat lovers and the Hawaiian, or in customized forms that don slices of tomato and pepperoni arranged into scale models of diners' favorite solar systems. A range of classic Italian entrees emerge from the kitchen, too— eggplant parmesan top twirls of spaghetti, and chopped bacon tops baked ziti with a four-cheese blend. Oven-baked subs and foot-long strombolis and calzones help round out the menu.
The notion of “fast and casual” isn't new—most chain restaurants adhere to the concept, as do many conversations with abandoned sock puppets. However, at Brioso Fresh Pasta, efficient service merges with local and organic ingredients to bump "fast and casual" into the glow of a new spotlight. Italian dishes range from house-made pasta to fork-free paninis, all of which arrive at tables on the arms of friendly servers. Brioso’s culinary team also respects special dietary needs with gluten-free pastas and vegan menu options.
Brixx's 21 signature pizzas anchor its hefty menu of pizzeria fare, gaining palate popularity with the smoky, wood-fired flavor culled from an authentic brick oven. Fix fangs into a fleet of 10-inch pizzas, coddling taste buds with the house-made mozzarella coating the Margherita ($9.95) or the spicy italian sausage, gorgonzola, and prosciutto atop the brawny Bronx Bomber ($10.95). The toasted turkey wrap ($7.95) teems with all-natural meat, artichokes, roma tomatoes, and romaine lettuce, and the roasted chicken alfredo with bacon ($11.95) quiets belly bellows better than an accurately thrown leather shoe. The kids’ menu sates miniature appetites with pintsize plates of penne pasta ($4.95 each), and old-fashioned floats ($4.95 each) with Brixx's handmade draft root beer go down smooth with two scoops of vanilla ice cream.