Sitting inside Bombay Pizza Company, owner Viral Patel watched the Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate, waiting alongside family and friends for a mention of his Slumdog pizza, a fusion of Indian and Italian flavors. After the 30-second spot, the restaurant erupted into a standing ovation.
Patel's journey to that moment first began when he quit his job in restaurant management to travel around India learning how to cook. Hoping to one day open a restaurant of his own, Patel returned to the United States and became interested in pizza, buying his own pizza stone and experimenting with new recipes, which fused Indian flavors with the traditionally Italian pies. He opened Bombay Pizza Company with the help of his mother, Sonali, who also inspired the Sonu's Rita pizza, which combines house-made cilantro-mint chutney with a margarita pizza. Soon after the restaurant opened, it was awarded Houston Press's Best Pizza in 2010. In addition to pizza, the menu features Indian street fare such as the kati roll with tandoori chicken and paneer and traditional Italian dishes such as lasagna and chicken parmagiana.
Today, Bombay Pizza Company has two locations, the original in Houston and a second, larger location in Sugar Land. Both eateries feature saffron-hued walls, the soft glow of Thomas Edison–style filament light bulbs, and photos of Bombay residents performing daily activities including washing clothes, fishing, and playing chess. The Sugar Land location also features an outdoor patio, microbrews on tap, and a private dining area.
Fernando's menus showcase South American ingredients and flavors amid an elegant supper club atmosphere, where weekends herald live music and dance-floor tours. An appetizer sampler ($7 for one, $12 for two) relieves decision-making anxiety with a bundle of favorites: golden-fried battered shrimp, shredded yucca crab cake with black bean sauce, and ceviche de pescado (diced marinated snapper, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro lime). Make good on your promise to eat the entire ocean with Fernando's classic seafood paella (saffron rice, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, fish, crawfish, calamari, chicken, and Spanish chorizo, $28), or dress your plate in a juicy steak Hickl, 12 ounces of char-grilled marinated rib eye served with mashed potato and asparagus ($28). For carb-fueled feeding, experience the signature mind-meld of European and American cuisine exemplified in the pasta Fernando's, which graces angel-hair pasta with tomatoes, black beans, garlic, basil, cilantro, and grilled chicken breast ($12.50).
Windy City Pizza channels the spirit of Chicago's famed Italian-American fare into hearty pizzas and sandwiches. Thin-crust pies support mushrooms, green peppers, and other classic pizza fixings, and their heftier cousins, Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas, overflow with cheese and Illinois state legislature secrets. Less circular fare includes italian beef with peppers nestled into soft french bread, and Chicago-style hot dogs buried beneath a garden of relish, onions, sport peppers, and a kosher pickle.
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.
Roberto Rosa first discovered his love of cooking at age 13, when he began learning recipes from his grandmother Antonia. Two decades later, the owner of Antonia’s Cucina Italiana shares his love of all Italian fare, transforming chicken, seafood, veal, and house-made pasta into colorful dishes during lunch and dinner. Across the three locations, décor and amenities vary, from outdoor seating to exposed brick walls and checkered floors where diners can settle arguments over who pays the bill with games of human chess.