The food at Marco's Trattoria found its beginnings in Florence, Italy, where Marco and his mother Franca Capanni were born. Franca came to the U.S. with her husband—a decorated World War II soldier who fought in Italy. She later moved Los Angeles with Marco and his brother and provided for them by working in Italian restaurants. In addition to helping Marco open his trattoria, she has another claim to fame: she appeared as the home cook in Daft Punk's "Revolution 909" video, directed by Roman Coppola.
Sixteen years later, the staff members have changed but the food remains tied to the Capanni legacy. The menu ranges from classic spaghetti with meatballs to a creamy risotto with sirloin tips, bleu cheese, caramelized onions, and mushrooms. You can pair such dishes with libations from an eclectic wine and beer list, which is regularly updated until Prohibition is reinstated.
Pino Piroso dedicated himself to founding a distinctive, Roman-style pizzeria, saying that "after years of hard work, we knew we had built something very special." His chain eventually grew to include franchises in six states as well as two countries outside of the US. Despite their geographic separation, each location has the same stringent standards for their ingredients and their Exit sign locations. No kitchen stores pizza fixings in a freezer—instead, the cooks begin every morning by stirring sauces, kneading dough, and dicing fresh seasonal toppings from local farms. The circular or rectangular pies can support as many as 33 of these familiar and nontraditional toppings, such as goat cheese, sweet corn, and roasted chicken.
Founded in a Laguna Beach art colony, Z Pizza has spent 25 years honing in on the perfect doughy disc, building prototypes with 100% organic wheat crusts and creative toppings. Dough-slingers hand toss each crust, be it regular, whole wheat or gluten-free, before fire-baking it to a signature crunch. Sauces such as chipotle pesto, thai peanut, or organic tomato coat the dough before a cascade of more than 40 toppings such as additive-free sausage, truffle oil, or free-range pepper shakers spill over the colorful surface. Vegan-friendly meals are also available, whereas gluten-free options include a rice, tapioca, and potato-flour personal pizza.
As soon as Panini's staff members arrive in the morning, they set to work baking the loaves of bread that they will later slice and toast to craft their signature sandwiches. Packed with hearty eggplant parmigiana, meatballs, and pesto chicken, these sandwiches join hand-tossed New York–style pizzas topped with the same coin-size pepperonis that fill Manhattan’s parking meters. All of Panini's menu items—from the flagship sandwiches and pizzas to the pastas brimming with sun-dried tomatoes and creamy pesto—are made with all-natural ingredients.
At Pizza & Wine Bar, more than 15 pizzas treat palates to topping combos that evoke styles from several American regions. Traditional ingredients such as mozzarella cheese and mushrooms share space on pies with Kobe beef, sausage, homemade tomato sauce, and crushed-red-pepper marinara sauce. There's also pastas with freshly made garlic bread, Kobe or chicken sliders with homemade potato chips, and burgers with natural-cut fries. Wine imported from countries such as Spain, Italy, and Australia, as well as imported beer, complements these dishes, with daily happy hour specials. The facility further accommodates guests with daily wine tastings, private parties for up to 50 guests, and delivery to underground pizza bunkers. Flat-screen TVs also create a sports bar atmosphere, with live games shown daily.
Oak Fire serves fresh takes on crust-bound favorites in a laid-back bar and eatery. Stop in for a lunchtime bite such as the chef's special pulled-pork sandwich, coated in a citrus-onion marinade and piled on freshly baked bread ($9). Dinnertime diners can whet appetites and prep palates with starters such as the Jack Daniel's barbecue meatballs lounging by a kiddie pool of dunkable Dijon ($8) before moving on to zesty 'za entrees. Chicago–style deep-dish pies recall a time when mobsters used pizzas for bulletproof vests, or you can sample specialty slices from the toastily tasty confines of the walnut and mesquite wood-burning oven. The cracked-egg pizza tickles taste buds with toppings of prosciutto, fennel sausage, and fontina cheese, all crowned with rise-and-shineable sunny-side up eggs ($16), while thoughtful options like the vegan soy offer soy cheese and soy sausage ($15). A selection of microbrews and wines by the glass are also available.