In 1993, the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building was transformed into an Italian restaurant, becoming the first Buca di Beppo. The owners soon found themselves riding a wave of popularity and marinara sauce as they opened new restaurants across the nation. Today, the eatery occupies 97 locations nationwide, from San Francisco to Times Square.
At each location, chefs maintain the northern and southern Italian flavors that made the original so popular, with a few American twists. Then they serve it up in massive, family-style portions, making Buca di Beppo a favorite place for hungry families and groups of friends.
For starters, the chefs bake up batches of Cheesy Bread Florentine, a colorful combo of spinach, roma tomatoes, and garlic sprinkled over Italian bread and sealed in place with fresh, melted cheeses. Entr?es are prepared with an eye toward quality and quantity, both of size and selection, complete with Veal Parmigiana, Baked Ziti, and classic Italian-American staples like Ravioli and Lasagna. And in keeping with the convivial atmosphere, they also serve truly decadent desserts. The Mt. Vesuvius Dark Chocolate Cake erupts with melted chocolate, and the Colossal Brownie Sundae towers above other sweets with six scoops of ice cream and tiers of sundae trimmings.
T J's owner and former Atlanta Flames hockey player Tim Ecclestone founded his restaurant on the fact that, for decades, sports fans have gathered to enjoy big games over burgers, hot wings, and beer. He spent one of those decades helming Timothy John's, a Sandy Springs party spot, and has dedicated two more to running his current show?T J's Sports Bar & Grill. There, a kitchen works overtime on game nights to sling a menu of char-grilled burgers, piled-high sandwiches, and pizzas to throw at the mob of 60-odd televisions when the ref makes a bad call. Behind the bar, bartenders kick open the kegs and pour tall glasses of Miller Lite, Budweiser, Coors, and Michelob Ultra, all represented by bright neon signs mounted on the eatery's walls.
CiCi?s Pizza combines the variety of a buffet with the thrill of bottomless pizza. Each pie is crafted with dough made from scratch daily and then slathered with homemade marinara and showered with toppings ranging from traditional pepperoni and Italian-style sausage to creative combinations including buffalo chicken and mac 'n' cheese. The buffet is stocked with a plethora of fresh pastas, as well as signature salads with the option to put tossing talents to the test at the salad bar. After they've feasted on savory options, diners can revisit the buffet for dessert including freshly baked brownies, slices of apple pizza, and cinnamon rolls drizzled with icing?or they can eat dessert first, thereby tearing an irreparable hole in the space-time continuum.
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 more than 200 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 garlic, sesame seed, Cajun, or poppy seed. To augment pies, Jet's chefs whip up triple-cheese turbo sticks filled mozzarella, cheddar, and romano as well as regular and boneless wings draped in hot or sweet sauces.
Every pizza at zpizza is freshly prepared, hand thrown, gently coaxed into the oven using soft birdcalls and pheromone trails, and fire-baked to crispy perfection. The dough is prepared fresh daily from 100% certified-organic wheat, and z is also happy to offer certified organic and gluten-free crusts, sating the pizza desire of the allergic, dieters, and wheat sympathizers. Toppings include award-winning Wisconsin skim mozzarella, MSG-free pepperoni, certified-organic tomato sauce, additive-free sausage, and fresh produce. Try a large ZBQ pizza (with barbecue sauce, mozzarella, barbecue chicken, roasted pepper, red onion, tomato, cilantro, and sweet corn, $20.95) or a chicken curry and yam rustica (with mozzarella, curry chicken, yam, mango chutney, raisin, and cilantro, $8.95). Vegans can delight in a small Berkeley, a soy-cheese veggie pizza (with pesto, soy cheese, veggie burger crumbles, zucchini, tomato, mushroom, red onion, and bell pepper, $9.95), while traveling tongues can sate their wanderlust with a mouthwatering Moroccan rustica (with pesto, mozzarella, roasted eggplant, feta cheese, caramelized onion, and pine nut, $8.95). Zpizza lets you wash it all down with a variety of organic wine and beer.
Ray’s New York Pizza offers a menu filled with delicious New York–style pizzas, pastas, salads, sandwiches, and more, all made from fresh ingredients. Start out by throwing on your best bomb-squad costume and carefully approaching an explosive plate of chicken bursts ($6.75) served with ranch, garlic, or hot sauce, and top it off with a warm bowl of chili ($2.99). Alternately, use bits of candy corn you saved from last Halloween to lure a chicken, gyro, or veggie-filled pita wrap ($7.50) into your mouth trap. Pizzas can be procured in classically foldable slices ($2.75–$4.25) or in 14-inch ($14.15–$18.70), 16-inch ($16.50–$21.25), or 18-inch ($17.75–$22.75) sizes. Meat lovers will appreciate Ray’s meat pizza, which features pepperoni, sausage, ham, and meatballs, while the gourmet veggie pizza will delight herbivores and herbivoyeurs with a conglomeration of eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and other legumes.