The first pie Nick-N-Willy's Pizza's chefs ever baked came out of an oven in Boulder, Colorado, but its menu travels the globe as the franchise has traveled around the United States. Classic Italian combinations abound, of course, but there's also the Greek-influenced, feta-topped Aegean pizza, the Canadian Chicken Club, and even a barbecue chicken variety. The fresh, creative combinations can also be freshly made and ready for home ovens via a take-and-bake option.
Rated one of Los Angeles?s top restaurants in the categories of Italian food, outdoor dining, wine list, and pizza by CitySearch.com, the family-owned and operated Bella Cucina has flourished behind classic and signature dishes. Its penne alla vodka rouses taste buds with a tequila-lime cream sauce, and its Quattro Formaggi pizza packs a punch with four different cheeses?more cheese than Neil Armstrong had stuffed in his pockets upon returning to Earth. Bella Cucina accompanies its entrees with an extensive wine list, and on Mondays, patrons can bring in their own bottles and enjoy free corkage.
Owner Vito Sasso inherited the Two Guys from Italy restaurant from founders Joseph Calderone and Luigi Devito, who opened more than 250 locations before leaving the original to Vito Sasso in 1995. Today, Sasso oversees the West Coast eatery, where chefs employ fresh garlic and virgin olive oil to craft Italian fare based on recipes passed down between generations through a series of monumental stone carvings of angel-hair pasta. Diners can choose from more than 400 variations of pizza and pasta on the menu, including manicotti, gnocchi a la Romana, and stuffed shells Napolitana. Steak, seafood, veal, and poultry dishes round out the menu.
The black-and-white décor at Prizzi’s pops with red accents, from the modern heat lamps hanging by the kitchen to the cherry-red aprons of the friendly wait staff. White tablecloths bear dishes such as lunch paninis and oven-baked pizzas in thin crust or deep dish. Forks twirl steaming noodles alongside steak and seafood immersed in savory wine sauces. After sipping a brew and noshing fried starters at the smooth wooden bar, patrons can tackle gelato scoops on the outdoor patio to achieve the chilled relaxation that usually accompanies a nap on a living-room sofa carved out of ice.
Founded in 1983 as a delivery-focused business, Pinocchio's Pizza began crafting New York–style pizzas in its current high-ceilinged home three years ago. As topping-strewn pies and house-made pastas travel from the kitchen into the wood-paneled dining room, guests monitor nearby flat-screen TVs tuned to football and professional staring leagues and sip wine and beer in a semi-enclosed arched bar area. As the notes of live jazz float over tables on Saturday nights, private shindigs take place in a nearby banquet room, where chandeliers look down benevolently at special events.
How many awards can a pizza win? Apparently all of them, if it was crafted at Avanti Cafe. Since it first started spinning dough in 1987, the restaurant's gourmet wood-fired pizzas have earned accolades from outlets including Pasadena Magazine and a thumbs-up from famed food critic Elmer Dills. The secret to each slice's success lies in how the pies are made—gently crisped in an imported Italian wood-burning oven that imparts a smoky flavor to the crust. California-centric toppings, such as glazed apples, tiger shrimp, duck sausage, and shiitake mushrooms, provide the finishing touch.
Avanti's tasteful touch extends to other Italian staples as well. Chefs toss chicken and seasonal vegetables into pastas that, like the pizzas, can be made gluten-free upon request; they also fold up savory calzones. The warming cuisine is complemented by a selection of international wines and beers, as well as espresso drinks to fuel second or third helpings.