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.
For nearly 30 years, Rico’s Italian Pizza has been hitting the spot with hand-tossed pies anchored by gooey cheese, savory meats, and fresh produce. The Rico’s Special stands out from an array of pizzas with its edible raiment of salami, pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, and sausage. In addition to doughy creations, growling stomachs are rendered speechless by the restaurant’s tasty pastas, chicken wings, and hot baked sandwiches stuffed with pastrami, canadian bacon, and meatballs. Glasses of wine complement Rico’s italian cuisine, whereas frosty pitchers of ice-cold brews tickle upper lips like a prop Groucho Marx moustache.
Inside Rico’s Italian Pizza, diners can also fill up on entertainment via big-screen TV, jukebox, or arcade game. The restaurant’s catering packages help party planners provision offsite parties, school events, and corporate functions.
To replicate the thin-crust pies found in New York's Italian-American neighborhoods, Giovanni's chefs make everything from scratch and bake their five-borough recreations atop a toasted hearthstone. They load their slices with layers of fresh mozzarella and an eclectic mix of toppings. Tables, draped in classic red-and-white checkered cloths, buckle under the weight of the pies, including the Coney Island piled with freshwater clams, garlic, and spices.
In addition to baking circular eats, the cooks marinate Sicilian-style chicken in extra-virgin olive oil and herbs before fire-roasting it on the rotisserie. Forks excavate the lasagna's layers, burrowing through strata of imported pasta, mozzarella, ricotta, and housemade tomato sauce, to unearth hearty pieces of meat or veggies.
Laguna Pizza’s ovens emit the appetizing aromas of freshly baked gourmet pizzas across an inviting, family-friendly dining room. Platters of pizzas showcase specialty toppings such as anchovy, artichoke hearts, linguiça, and pineapple, and a salad bar invites patrons to adorn leafy canvases with their chosen garnishes. A daily lunch buffet lets diners fill up and bask in belly-warming satisfaction, and Sunday- and Monday-night football specials emblazon HD televisions with games as customers sip wine and draft beer. The restaurant’s catering services furnishes pizza feasts and tableware for parties, meetings, and Bob Dole–impersonator conventions.
The kitchen staff at Cheezer’s Gourmet Pizza has made its fair share of signature White Creamy Pie pizzas since the shop opened in 1986, so staff members have the process down to a science. First, they slap together the dough and stir the homemade white, creamy garlic sauce. Then they toss the sauce onto the dough and blanket it with cheese, pepperonis, mushrooms, bacon bits, tomatoes, green onions, and one regulation-sized golf ball. Finally, they slide the entire disk into a brick oven and bake it until it bubbles.
All 19 of their pizzas receive a similar treatment, the only differences being the toppings and the type of homemade sauce, which include creamy-pesto sauce, barbecue sauce, tomato-basil sauce, and tomato sauce. They stuff the same toppings into paninis and calzones, though they wisely leave them out of the glasses they fill with draft beer.
It is not just the pastas, sandwiches, and pizzas that keep guests coming back to Pete's Restaurant and Brewhouse—the hand-crafted beers also play a major role, quenching thirsts with flavors ranging from the Uptown blonde’s light layers of honey to the highly hoppy profile of the Skinner’s Horse IPA. Pete’s team keeps meals in balance by offering food-and-beer-paring suggestions, assuring diners that the Midtown ale harmonizes with fish tacos and that the Old Town red—a malty, medium-bodied amber ale—improves coordination for slam-dunking meatballs.