In 1974, Hank Aaron tied the home-run record and the first pocket calculators leapt in popularity. It was also the year that Fred and Carol Zinda of rural Wisconsin decided they’d sell their belongings, move to Florida, and start an Italian restaurant. Now, celebrating their 39th year of business, ovens at the couple’s two locations open to reveal baked pastas and hand-tossed pies with regular or pan crusts that ripple in the waves of heat. Joto's Pizza––named for Jodi and Tori, the couple’s daughters––has remained a family affair. While licking fingers clean, patrons question a worker about the restaurant's catering services and the possibility of disguising pizzas as pie charts for tax purposes.
Papa John's has carefully crafted a menu of specialty pizzas to satisfy any taste or mouth shape. Order a Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, or go all-out and get The Works, a top-heavy combination of pepperoni, ham, spicy Italian sausage, fresh-sliced onions, green peppers, gourmet baby portabella mushrooms, and ripe black olives. Satisfy herbivores and herbivoyeurs with a Tuscan Six-Cheese or Garden Fresh pie. The full list of specialty pizzas includes several more; take the hassle out of haggling over individual ingredients and boldly cast your straight-ticket ballot for the pizza party that your conscious dictates.
Gigi's Italian Restaurant is a family-owned eatery that has been injecting diners with the recommended dose of pizza, pasta, and parmigiana since 1967. Initiate meal time with appetizers such as the calamari, lightly fried to crispy resistance ($8), or Gigi's bruschetta, a toasty platform topped with fresh tomatoes, zesty snips of red onion, and dewed by balsamic vinegar and olive oil ($7). The specialty brick oven pizzas tempt taste seekers with the minimalist pizza margherita ($14.17 for a medum) and Gigi's special, an ensemble of pepperoni, mushrooms, onion, sausage, and green pepper peacefully playing culinary bocce ball within the boundaries of a thin-crusted circumference ($21.94 for a medium). Gigi's dinner menu represents the full gamut of authentic Italian favorites, including creamy pasta carbonara ($12), chicken piccata sautéed in a lemony garlic sauce ($15), and eggplant a la parmigiana, where slices of thick, breaded and fried eggplant are crowned with Gigi's sauce and accompanied by a hearty portion of pasta ($14). Pair plates with beer and wine, or a libation from the full liquor bar at the South Pasadena and St. Petersburg locations.
In 1978, brothers Eugene and John Jett lent their name to the sign above their pizza shop in Sterling Heights, Michigan. In the more than 30 years that followed, they’ve lost one of the Ts but gained about 350 franchises across the country. Jet’s Pizza churns out thin-crust rounds and signature square-shaped pies in hearty deep-dish form. The eight-corner deep-dish style lets each member of a dining octet enjoy a slice of corner crust without fearing the paper cuts inherent in triangle slices. After loading pizzas with heaps of meats and veggies, guests have the liberty of flavorizing their crust for free, choosing from eight options such as Jet's Turbo Crust, garlic, sesame seed, Cajun, or poppy seed. To augment pies, Jet's chefs whip up triple-cheese turbo sticks filled with mozzarella, cheddar, and romano as well as regular and boneless wings draped in hot or sweet sauces.
Weighing in at almost a pound per slice, Mario's Pizzeria Trattoria's philly-cheesesteak stuffed pizza teems with meat and three cheeses. This is just one of the menu's specialty pizzas, which also include the pizza with nine vegetables and four cheeses and the Chicago Classico, made with sausage and fresh basil. The pizza dough is made fresh daily, as is the tomato sauce that douses pasta dishes.
Diners enjoy their pizzas, pastas, subs, and salads inside or out on the patio tables. They can even cruise through Mario's drive-thru window in Largo if they need a meal to go or a quick olive-oil top-off to keep car engines running smoothly.
Tour de Pizza reimagines a traditionally hearty comfort food as a part of a healthy diet, with chefs creating mouthwateringly fresh pies from wholesome veggies, olive oil, and roma tomatoes. The restaurant takes its name from owner Matt McClellan's 2008 bike journey from St. Petersburg to New York, which saw him stopping at pizzerias on the way to prove that pizza can be part of a health-conscious lifestyle and not just the food of choice for couch potatoes or rebellious cartoon teenagers. Diners can sink their teeth into pizza that McClellan ate on his diet such as the traditional margherita pizzas topped with slices of roma tomato and slivers of fresh basil, or sample a Pearsciutto pie crowned with pears, prosciutto, and gorgonzola cheese.
In addition to supping on the handmade breakfast and dinner pies that constitute McClellan's 30-day pizza diet, guests can munch on stuffed strombolis and meatball subs, or jump-start their appetites with savory garlic knots and cheese bread.