As a high-school student working at a local pizzeria, John Schnatter often pondered how he would do things differently if he owned such a business himself. After graduating from college in 1983, he got his chance, knocking down the broom closet in his father’s tavern to create his own pizza-delivery business. Since then Papa John’s Pizza has grown to 3,500 restaurants in 50 states and 29 countries. At each location, cooks cover the signature hand-tossed crusts, made with high-protein flour and clear, filtered water, with tomato sauce from vine-ripened California tomatoes, then pile on locally sourced ingredients such as green peppers and onions. The emphasis on fresh ingredients extends to the 100% mozzarella cheese, beef, and pork, which are never artificially inflated with fillers or undeserved compliments.
In addition to delivering pizzas, Papa John’s reaches out to the community with charity involvement, including partnering with the Boy Scouts of America and Junior Achievement to teach US students about entrepreneurship and the best method of capturing a wild roma tomato.
Since 2003, Keith Nash, owner of The Pizza Place, and his wife Shab have operated their family-owned restaurant designed for pizza aficionados. Opening The Pizza Place location in Rocklin in 2007, The Nash's oversee cooks who craft fresh pizza dough daily, homemade pasta sauces, and hulking meatball sandwiches. In the oven, the fresh dough rises and crisps beneath fistfuls of artichoke hearts, salami, linguiça, anchovies, basil, and garlic. A full Italian menu includes traditional stunners, such as from-scratch lasagna, bubbly warm tomato sauces, and stacked Philly cheese steaks. An accompanying dessert menu features fluffy tiramisu to decadent chocolate mousse cake. In the dining room, calzones spill steam that rises up towards framed jerseys, signed photos of athletes, and 5 flat screen TVs. An ample salad bar offers tasty greens for patrons in search of lighter bites. Outside the eatery, patrons lounge on a terrace, sipping on wine or one of the 10 beers on tap while enjoying the breeze. The Pizza Place's traditional culinary treasures earned them the title of "Best Pizza Place 2009" in The Placer Herald.
The name Biggies Pizza & Wings isn’t an exaggeration. The cooks hand-toss fresh dough for pizzas as large as 26 inches across and then top the circular foundations with robustly flavored toppings such as chicken, bacon, and mushrooms. Specialty pies include the BLT and the Hawaiian Holiday, which piles canadian bacon and pineapple onto a style of crust that’s more commonly used to make hula dancers’ skirts. In addition to crafting pizzas, cooks toss regular and boneless chicken wings in sauces ranging from sweet chili to hot. To round out meals, patrons may opt to fill up their plates at the salad bar with single trips or unlimited pilgrimages.
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 Pizza also puts together an impressive roster of hot sandwiches, such as the sauce-packed meatball version ($5.49).
John's Incredible Pizza Co. graces guests with acres of incandescent entertainment options and a fully stocked buffet ($9.49 value, $1.50 value for drinks). In addition to a slew of soups, salads, pasta, desserts, and traditional pizza choices, the buffet brandishes a bouquet of specialty pizza creations, including spicy peanut-butter, barbecue chicken ranch, and alfredo pizza.
For more than 50 years, Round Table Pizza has fired up the appetites of flavor-starved foodies with a host of appetizers, crisp salads, and topping-laden disks. Dough is made from scratch using wheat sourced from the company's family farms, ensuring that the bready foundations of mainstays, such as the barbecue chicken pizza ($17.90 for a medium), are fresh and familiar with agricultural machinery. House creation King Arthur Supreme takes charge of nearby chompers, guiding them through an invasion of pepperoni, italian sausage, salami, linguica, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives, and more ($12.75 for a small). Meanwhile, the Wombo Combo tempts taste buds with crisp bacon, mushrooms, roma tomatoes, artichoke hearts, green onions, and a medley of magnanimously portioned meats ($7.30 for a personal size). Inspiration-stricken patrons can design their own pie or swing by the all-you-can-eat salad bar ($5.29) to adorn lush leaves with tasty toppings under the glow of the light bulb growing from their foreheads.