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.
Nimbly darting through the forest of white-clothed tables in the Milano Ristorante Italiano dining rooms, attentive waiters carry platters of traditional Italian dishes and bottles of fine wines. In the kitchen, seasoned chefs labor over sizzling stoves, folding seafood, meats, and fresh vegetables into northern- and southern-Italian classics. Diners can sample baked pastas, veal dishes, and gourmet pizzas, such as the Milano, layered with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and peppers. Meanwhile, seasoned bartenders mix martinis, margaritas, and specialty cocktails as skillfully as a vindictive construction worker mixes concrete into his boss’s convertible.
Vibrant oil paintings speckle the restaurant's textured walls, adding to the rustic decor and looking down on tables hosting family outings and romantic first dates. Outside on the expansive patio, a brick fireplace illuminates tables of alfresco diners and the cascading water of the ornamental fountain.
The New and the Old Worlds collide at Villa-O, creating a modern cuisine that draws inspiration from Italy's Amalfi Coast. Beginning with imported semolina flour and purified water, the chefs fashion each strand and tube of pasta before frying them in a wok, which lends a distinctive touch to the restaurant's otherwise familiar pasta dishes. Organic, locally sourced produce, free-range meats, and telekinetically delivered seafood show how the restaurant updates traditional Italian dishes by introducing contemporary flair.
Italian-born chef Vincenzo Indelicato remained true to his Sicilian culinary school training when designing Villa-O's menu. In addition to traditional, Neapolitan-style pizzas loaded with imported pepperoni or housemade sausage and baked in a wood-burning oven, the selection includes a handful of dishes that depart from the norm, such as the portobello mushroom fries that D Magazine hailed as "addictive." The restaurant's wine list is equally eclectic, featuring bottles from throughout the world (though emphasizing the vineyards of Italy and California).
The main dining room surrounds its polished teak tables with modern white chairs and, according to Gayot, uses its "open floor plan with shiny mahogany, serene blue hues and nautical prints to create a veil of vacation." A sense of Mediterranean escapism does seem prevalent at Villa-O. Chrome and cerulean stools line the bar, which gleams in the natural light that streams through the front wall's floor-to-ceiling windows. To get a bit closer to the sunshine, diners can grab a table on the shady patio and enjoy their meal while relaxing on a plush sofa or in a teak rocking chair.
It's the 1980s. Marc Hill is a personal trainer in NYC, and alas, his favorite restaurant is closed for lunch. So he does what few hungry men would dare in this situation. He knocks on the glass, tells the chef he'll open the store himself—and strangely, the chef obliges. Marc is no stranger to hard work, of course; he helped out at his grandfather's store from the age of 8, and he was running it by 16. So under the tutelage of the general manager, Armando, Marc can finally channel his ethic into something lasting, something to honor his Sicilian mother: the art of pizza making.
More than 20 years later, Marc Hill still celebrates Armando, and his mother, Rosalie Roppolo, by crafting Italian pies at Roppolo's Pizza. With a swing of the kitchen door, tables populate with 22-inch pizzas that weigh more than six pounds each and strike fear in the hearts of even the bravest pizza cutters. On the Mediterranean patio and deck, paninis and calzones descend in the glow of a 73-inch television as colorful parasols look on in admiration.
After years devising his ideal pizzeria, David Davydd Miller dispensed his first slices in 1984 to patrons in College Station, Texas. Back then Dave recruited the help of a flourmill and cannery to generate customized blends of his crust and sauce formulas. These days, within DoubleDave's Pizzaworks restaurants' 30 Texas and Oklahoma locations, chefs concoct Dave's signature honey whole-wheat crust daily from hand-tossed dough along with batches of sauce made from scratch with Escalon tomatoes. Those ingredients join hand-cut veggies and meats from Tyson and Burke to collectively form a delectable disk that proves once and for all that pie can be divided evenly. Along with half a dozen specialty pizzas, DoubleDave's Pizzaworks appeases palates with signature pepperoni rolls, sandwiches, and Dave's favorite dish, the philly-cheesesteak stromboli.
Walking into Andre’s Pizza can feel like walking into a home kitchen. As family members chop up veggies for fresh salads and hand-knead dough for pizzas, the smell of fresh bread baking in the oven wafts over the entire scene. The bread is used for toasted deli subs that diners customize with six meats and three cheeses, as well as add-ons such as guacamole and bacon. The aforementioned pizza dough gets slathered with homemade sauce before it’s transformed into specialty pizzas—sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts top the gourmet pie, and sausage, meatballs, and bacon bulk up the all-meat pizza. The rest of the menu includes custom calzones and eight salads that, like the best avant-garde art, can be drizzled with a selection of house-made dressings.