The same love for pizza and beer that fueled three college students in 1974 transformed their lives as they expanded their business from one rundown building in Atlanta to 100 Mellow Mushroom restaurants across 15 states today. Each eatery owes its individual style to each location's being locally owned and operated, much like impressionist painters owed their individual style to their number of ears. In the kitchens, chefs assemble grilled and deli-style hoagies and bake calzones and pizzas in stone hearths using dough made with natural spring water. Though many of the restaurant's dishes have remained on the menu since its inception, the culinary crew frequently devises new, often gluten-free, dishes to keep senior-ranking pepperonis from becoming too powerful. Servers pair dishes with their location's own set of local brews, which fit into a collection of up to 100 microbrewed and imported beers on tap and in bottles. Brewers such as Bell's, Abita, and Dogfish Head are also featured in regular beer events.
Peppino's Pizzeria's pizza chefs toss homemade dough before slathering it in homemade sauce, blanketing it in Grande cheese and fresh toppings, and baking it to a tawny crispness. Culinary craftsmen can arrange more than 15 toppings, such as feta cheese and meatballs, onto thin and thick crusts, or hide the goods inside a calzone or stromboli. Fourteen cold and hot 6-inch and 12-inch subs satiate sandwich cravings, including the vegetarian and the chicken cutlet with provolone, while an order of garlic-cheese bread keeps fingers occupied so they don't return to unscrewing the tops of every salt shaker in the restaurant. Pasta dinners–including meat lasagna, cheese raviolis, and eggplant parmigiana–share stomach space with a crisp salad and bread, while a smattering of desserts from cannoli to tiramisu temper sweet teeth.
The notion of “fast and casual” isn't new—most chain restaurants adhere to the concept, as do many conversations with abandoned sock puppets. However, at Brioso Fresh Pasta, efficient service merges with local and organic ingredients to bump "fast and casual" into the glow of a new spotlight. Italian dishes range from house-made pasta to fork-free paninis, all of which arrive at tables on the arms of friendly servers. Brioso’s culinary team also respects special dietary needs with gluten-free pastas and vegan menu options.
Handmade pizzas and calzones complement a lineup of pasta dishes at Trio, where chefs satisfy Italian cravings with a lengthy menu of the region’s most authentic and recognizable dishes. The team kicks off the workday by making housemade sauces for its dozen or so pasta dishes. Chefs make the classics, such as tomato and basil over angel-hair pasta, as well as the more complex recipes, including a seafood trio of shrimp, scallops, and mussels in marinara.
Chefs also craft hand-tossed white or wheat pizza dough and top it with sausage and peperoni for a traditional pizza. They can also smother crusts with sweet-and-spicy molasses barbecue sauce for a signature barbecue pizza before firing it in the wood-burning oven until it reaches a perfect golden brown. Guests can also get pizza-like creations, including pies folded into calzones or heart-shaped Valentine’s Day cards.
Non-pizza entrees include a slow-roasted rotisserie chicken and a menu of gluten-free specialties. Desserts, including crème brule and tiramisu, make a fine finish to any meal—especially one paired with a glass of one the eatery's more than 25 varieties of wine.
In the early '90s the ultimate pizza buffet was just a glimmer in two brothers' eyes. These brothers had always dreamed of a pizza buffet filled with fresh choices and high-quality ingredients, and in 1996, they got the chance to make their dream come true. Fast-forward to the present day, and Stevi B's Pizza Buffet exists at more than 40 locations across eight states, where the menu is full of variety. Patrons can sample specialty pies, such as the loaded baked potato and philly cheesesteak, or request their own custom ingredients atop a flaky crust for no extra charge. The buffet also switches things up by offering salad, bread sticks, and dessert.
For more than 33 years, the chefs at Gourmet Pizza and More have topped housemade dough with signature sauce, real cheese, and fresh vegetables. In addition to specialty pies such as the Marco Polo with chicken, almonds, and sweet and sour sauce, chefs build customized pizzas with an array of toppings such as sun-dried tomatoes, gyro meat, and fresh basil. Italian-style dinner entrees include pesto chicken manicotti in alfredo sauce, while Greek specialties include gyro plates and napkins made from genuine philosopher beards.