The oven admirals at Straw Hat Pizza bake an extensive fleet of California-style pizza. The kitchen team prepares each crust to pack a flaky, crispy, crunch-causing texture, creating a sturdy foundation capable of supporting cheese, sauce, toppings, and hardbound copies of Mark McGwire's autobiography. A large chicken-bacon-ranch pizza saturates taste-sensory apparatuses with a dual-meat format and a vegetable cast of tomatoes and red onions, and the large aloha chicken merges chicken, ham, pineapple, and bacon on a highway of barbecue and red sauce (each $17.99 for a 15"). Vegetarians can imbibe the windfall of grown ingredients that fill out the large california veggie pie — a conference of zucchini, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, spices, and white sauce ($17.99 for a 15"). Straw Hat also puts together an impressive roster of hot sandwiches, such as the sauce-packed meatball version ($5.49).
The pizza-making pros at Luigi’s Pizza & Pasta eschew sugar, oil, and eye of newt when forging their healthy, grease-free dough, which they bake directly atop sizzling hot bricks. In addition to loading these freshly flung crusts with Canadian bacon, spinach, and roasted garlic, they crown pastas with hand-rolled meatballs and ladles of homemade meat and alfredo sauces. They also help diners conclude their meals with a sweet crescendo by infusing desserts with coffee liqueur and rich ganache.
From the tomato-red columns running along the wall to the fresh green basil that garnishes dishes on its tables, the dining room at Palio’s Pizza Cafe bursts with color. Roma tomatoes, red peppers, and spicy, house-made red sauce paint thin, crisp pizza crusts. Farm-fresh salads host a kaleidoscope of colorful toppings, such as the Nutty Hawaiian's cashews, pineapples, and cranberries. By the entrance, the mural of a flamenco dancer brandishes a wine bottle like those used by waiters to pour out reds and whites. Above her head, the word Palio's unfurls like an artist's signature on canvas, lending a name to the colorful culinary scene.
Palio's chefs aim to make their dishes as healthful as they are vibrant. They craft crusts with whole-wheat or gluten-free dough upon request, and blend only fresh ingredients and locally sourced magic beans into their house-made pasta sauce.
A downtown mainstay for more than a quarter century, Ciao Italian Restaurant quells cravings with Prime Omaha beef and house-made sugar-free marinara rife with garlic, basil, and olive oil. Chef Tony, the eatery's epicurean mastermind, pours more than three decades of culinary experience into the preparation of Maryland-style crab cakes and fettuccine alfredo seasoned with pepper and ground nutmeg. Servers ferry glasses of pomegranate margaritas to tables dressed in gray linens and patrons sink forks into creamy cannolis imported from New York City's Little Italy. The venue's cozy dining area seats businessmen for quick lunches, couples for candlelit dinners, and canine actors for Lady and the Tramp scene studies.
Playtime Pizza entertains kids and adults with 70,000 square feet of long division–free fun. More than 140 games populate the facility’s two-story arcade, which encourages players to achieve new high scores on Dance Dance Revolution and on six miniature bowling lanes. Black lights cast a celestial spell across the mini golf course, where putters sink holes-in-one under the gaze of pirates and sea creatures, and on the bumper-car track, drivers spend time bouncing through the sea of cars. Smiles disappear only when mouths get sidetracked by pizza, one of the many finger-friendly food items that line the center’s expansive buffet spread.