"Sorry, can you hold on a sec?" Jobi's Pizza owner Mark Hinckley attends to a delivery phone. He's efficient and friendly. Upon returning, he graciously apologizes and continues his story. "Well, we all have day jobs. This is something fun to do at night." The "we" Mark is referring to is himself and his two business partners, Joe Kuftack and a man named O'Brien. It was the combination of their names that spawned the restaurant's curious moniker—Jobi's. "We work for engineering companies," Mark explains. "I work for architecture, the other two in military civil service." Maybe it's this background in creating something from nothing that explains the success of the restaurant's hand-tossed pizzas and made-from-scratch wing and pasta sauces. However, Mark believes that it's something more immediate that brings customers in the door. "They're supporting a local business. When regulars come in, sure, it's the quality. But here you can feed a family of four for under $20. It's a tough economy, and we want to help." Through the floor-to-ceiling restaurant windows, night is settling in, and the tables are filling up for dinner. The red-and-white-checkered tablecloths slowly populate with hot sandwiches, gooey specialty pizzas, and whole-grain pastas. Looking around at the wood paneling, smiling faces, and pizza ovens aggressively wagging their tails, there's a palpable feeling of friendliness in the room. Mark believes that comes from a place that larger chains can't access. "One of the people that works here––the one who painted the Jobi's logo on the wall—he's an airbrush artist. Wintertime, he works at the pizza place. The rest of the year, he works airbrush on the ocean," Mark says proudly. "We can do things like that. We're very family oriented."
It's no surprise that pizza is the specialty at FreshCrust Trattoria, considering the Italian eatery's name. To make the savory pies, Chefs roll out fresh dough before piling on toppings such as asiago cheese, shrimp, or proscuitto, and then bake the pies to gooey perfection. The pizzas come in four sharable sizes, promoting a sense of community and strong fraction skills. Diners can also devour small plates filled with snacks such as fired calamari or subs sandwiched between Amoroso's Hearth Baked Rolls.
A space age interior gives way to earthly delights inside Planet Pizza where a dedicated crew of pizzanauts craft California-style pies designed to satisfy parents, kids, and extraterrestrial restaurant critics. Construct a custom pizza (starting at $10.99) from a bevy of fresh ingredients, or opt for one of Planet Pizza's signature flavor discs, such as the barbecue chicken pizza ($13.99 for 12’’), which tempts tongues with an enticing blend of sweet barbecue sauce and savory Gouda cheese. Pasta and sandwich options, such as the spinach ravioli with parmesan cream sauce ($10.99) and the classic three-meat Italian sub ($6.99), round out the menu. Of-age eaters can augment meals with spirited selections from Planet Pizza's beer and wine lists, grabbing pints ($2.75-$3.75) that will provide the courage necessary to ask a stranger to dance, even in the absence of music.
Pembroke Pizza’s menu provides a diverse sampling of Italian staples made from fresh ingredients. Edible apps such as the golden mozzarella sticks accompanied by tasty homemade marinara ($6.29) confuse smartphones but satisfy smart stomachs. The greek salad deftly blends lettuce, vine-ripe tomatoes, onions, peppers, olives, and feta cheese with house greek dressing ($6.49). A wide-ranging pasta menu boasts tortellini ($9.99), lasagna ($9.49), and manicotti ($9.49), and New York–style pies can be bedazzled with the customer's choice of toppings. Pre-formed specialty pizzas also populate the menu, such as the Pembroke Special—literally every regular topping piled on one Herculean platform of dough and extra cheese ($9.99 for an 8" pizza; $19.99 for a 14" pizza; $21.99 for a 16" pizza). The corner TV and abundant movie posters that adorn the dining-room walls exude a homey, lived-in vibe, akin to eating pizza in the den of a vacationing neighbor.
Every pizza at zpizza is freshly prepared, hand thrown, gently coaxed into the oven using soft birdcalls and pheromone trails, and fire-baked to crispy perfection. The dough is prepared fresh daily from 100% certified-organic wheat flour, and z is also happy to offer certified organic and gluten-free crusts, sating the pizza desire of the allergic, dieters, and wheat sympathizers. Toppings include award-winning Wisconsin skim mozzarella, MSG-free pepperoni, certified-organic tomato sauce, additive-free sausage, and fresh produce. Try a large ZBQ pizza (with barbecue sauce, mozzarella, barbecue chicken, roasted peppers, red onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and sweet corn, $20.95) or a chicken curry and yam rustica (with mozzarella, curry chicken, yams, mango chutney, raisins, and cilantro, $8.95). Vegans can delight in a small Berkeley, a soy-cheese veggie pizza (with pesto, soy cheese, veggie burger crumbles, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions, and bell peppers, $9.95), while traveling tongues can sate their wanderlust with a mouthwatering Moroccan rustica (with pesto, mozzarella, roasted eggplant, feta cheese, caramelized onions, and pine nuts, $8.95). Prices vary from location to location, so there might be some small variation from what is listed above.
While growing up in Palermo, Italy, Nunzio was surrounded by impassioned Italian cooking: his grandfather was a chef at the Grand Hotel of Palermo, his mother was a skilled cook from the Italian countryside, and his brother grew up to open a restaurant of his own. Following in his clan's footsteps, Nunzio began his kitchen career by learning the art of pastry construction at age 17, though he quickly expanded his expertise to compiling main courses. After packing bags and moving to the United States, the chef has remained as glued to Italian tastes as a pepperoni on melted cheese, and he now shares the family tradition with his son Adam at Mamma Mia Pizzeria.
Inside the kitchen, thin-crust pizzas bake to a bubbly finish while cradling toppings such as fresh tomatoes, basil, spinach, feta, salami, sausage, and drizzles of olive oil. Fresh pasta, zesty sauce, and melted cheeses combine to form house-made lasagna, a house specialty, and golden breadcrumbs hug the tender eggplant parmigiana to add a delicate crunch, similar to the crunch caused by adding bones to barbecue rib meat. The father and son duo shares its culture with customers by encouraging Italian-speakers to practice their conversational skills, and Nunzio often delivers pizzas to large parties himself, charming the customers with an Italian serenade in his strong, tenor voice before departing