With parents hailing from Sicily and Naples, Anthony Russo enjoyed an Italian upbringing. By age 12, he spent much of his time in the kitchen, learning to prepare Old World recipes with his family and family friends. And from the flurry of Italian phrases and conversation, one quote of his father's stuck with him most: "If you can't make it fresh, don't serve it!"
Several decades later, Anthony has hand-tossed his own Italian restaurant franchise and, true to his father's words, employs fresh ingredients in the same family recipes that were passed down to him. Amid exposed brick and walls the warm hue of marinara, skilled chefs craft New York–style brick-oven pizzas with toppings such as spinach, sundried tomatoes, and capers. Servers stand ready to answer questions about the restaurant’s wine lists, letting guests know which wines pair best with the Pizzotto sandwich or whether pinot noir can really turn dogs invisible.
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.
Center Court Pizza & Brew ramps up the classic combo of pizza, beer, and sports thanks to daily made pizza dough, craft beers from across the country, and television screens abuzz with the big game. Sports and pizza collide atop the touchdown pizza, with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, and a slew of crisp vegetables, a pie that begs for a pint from Rogue Ales or St. Arnold Brewing Company. Pizzas are the centerpieces here, but robust plates of pastas, wings slathered in sauces and dry rubs, and bread-splitting subs round out the menu. End the game with a homemade dessert that adds sweetness to a bitter loss better than an eviction notice sealed with a kiss.
• For $10, you get an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for two (a $6.99 value each) plus two sodas (a $2 value each), valid from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (up to a $19.15 total value, including tax). • For $14, you get an Italian meal for two, including a medium 14-inch signature pizza (up to a $16.99 value), seven wings (a $5.99 value), and two sodas (a $2 value each; up to a $28.73 total value, including tax). • For $21, you get an Italian meal for four, including a large 16-inch signature pizza (up to a $19.99 value), 14 wings (an $11.98 value), and four sodas (a $2 value each; up to a $42.57 total value, including tax).