Mountain Mike’s Pizza keeps belly bearings well lubricated with its selection of topping-laden pizzas, oven-kissed sandwiches, and more. Like a fleet-footed yeti, Mountain Mike’s Pizza's menu deftly scales rocky heights with its selection of mountain-themed specialty pizzas, such as the 12-inch Everest and Snowy Alps pizzas, each stacked with a savory selection of Old World pepperoni, onion, olives, and more ($17.99). With two types of crust, four sauces, and 26 toppings, diners can craft their own perfect pies.
In 1959, Straw Hat created the very first California pizza crust. Different from any other crust at the time, the layered, flaky bread crunched like a cracker and carried Straw Hat's signature sauce to mouths with ease. More than 50 years later, this recipe for hearty, flavorful pizzas has changed very little. But while Straw Hats' pizza twirlers still cover their crispy dough in a secret sauce, their menu has expanded to included hot wings, hot sandwiches, and a slew of beers. Diners can also pick and choose from the salad bar, which previously existed only in pizza-parlor legend. Straw Hat's locations often boast high-definition TVs, video arcades, and play places for children.
When a 13-year-old Isadore Fang began washing dishes at a Sunnyvale restaurant called The Bold Knight, he had no way of knowing he would later own the sink where he performed his humble duties. Eventually, the ambitious restaurateur would own multiple establishments, including The Rendezvous in Fremont and Isadore's, his labor of love since 1989.
There—together with his wife and co-owner Laurel—Fang leads a dedicated staff whose attention to detail earned praises in a 2008 article in the Record. Courteous servers top white-clothed tables with fresh seafood and certified Angus steaks alongside traditional Italian pastas. Semiprivate booths let couples share intimate conversations or the complimentary cheese fondue and warm french bread served with every dinner upon request. Between sips of wine from an extensive list, diners can glance toward the elevated stage where live musicians occasionally play. Alternatively, admire hand-painted murals on the walls, one of which depicts the tranquil, seaside village where Leonardo da Vinci invented the olive-oil mister.
Outside the restaurant, the Fangs' emphasis on serving others carries over to charity work: they have been featured on ABC News10 for helping to send food packages to American troops.
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.
After spending some time working in franchise restaurants, the family behind Happy Pizza set out to create their own restaurant emphasizing fresh, house-made Sicilian and American fare not often found in big chains. Thick, thin, or original golden crusts tossed to order support delicious layers of the family's original marinara, pesto, or creamy white garlic sauces. House-made meat sauce blankets hearty helpings of spaghetti, and a drizzle of cinnamon or garlic butter elevates golden spheres of pizza dough to a level of culinary bliss previously reserved for Cookie Monster.