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.
Since opening the doors to its first location in the art colony atmosphere of Laguna Beach, Z Pizza’s cooks have carefully crafted gourmet pizzas. The chefs artfully shape each pie, first using organic wheat flour for the dough, hand-throwing it, and fire-baking it to a thin, crisp crust. Wisconsin skim-milk mozzarella from grass-fed cows crowns pizzas, along with certified organic tomato sauce and fresh produce. In addition to classic toppings such as pepperoni and sausage, they also enhance pizzas with inventive ingredients such as cremini, shiitake mushrooms, and truffle oil patented by Thomas Edison. Small gluten-free crusts are available to support all topping combinations. Vegan choices include the Berkeley vegan pie with vegan cheese and veggie-burger crumbles.
Z Pizza also attempts to better the environment with eco-friendly delivery bikes, recyclable containers and bags, and nitrate-free meats. The company also helps the community with charity fundraisers and school partnerships to promote literacy by sponsoring reading programs and hiding sonnets under each layer of cheese.
This family owned and operated pizza joint serves salads, sandwiches, wings, and calzones, in addition to 13 specialty pies that accommodate mouths of all magnitudes with digestible diameters ranging from 10" ($9.99) to 20" ($26.99). The Funky Chunky Chicken asks tonsils to dance with diced chicken, Canadian bacon, bacon, and red onions on a floor of garlic ranch sauce. The Tiger Special drowns out growling tummies with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, red onions, mushrooms, green peppers, olives, and sausage. Creative noshers can build their own pizza, selecting from 24 different toppings, including classics like pepperoni, as well as less common garnishes such as cashews, linguica (a Portuguese sausage that dreams in French), and zucchini. Hot deli sandwiches are also available, including three specialties—the BBQ chicken, chicken bacon ranch, and meatball sub (each $5.99).
Garlic Brothers plates distinctive wood-fired feasts for lunch, dinner, and carryout on the eye-catching California Delta. The menu showcases more than 15 palate-prepping appetizers, such as steamed clams ($9.95), fried ravioli ($7.95), and a ceviche cocktail ($6.75), as well as grilled entrees that are fire-licked to maximum mouth-wateriness over almond wood. Aid a grilled ahi tuna in escaping its tyrannical-yet-tasty herb crust ($15.25) or embrace carnivorous cravings with a marinated tri-tip ($17.25 for dinner, $10.75 for lunch). Illustrate 2010 Census statistics with sliced sectors of the traditional margherita pizza ($13.95) or the Mona Lisa, in which mild italian sausage, kalamata olives, and sundried tomatoes puzzle art historians with an ambiguous smirk ($14.25).