Though making pizza is its No. 1 priority, Pizza Fusion manages to pull double duty as an environmental steward and live out its motto, ”Saving The Earth One Pizza At A Time.” Each of its delivery vehicles is a company-owned hybrid, all of its locations are built according to LEED certification standards, and several stores are illuminated with efficient LED lighting. Keeping with the theme, the company strives to limit its kitchens' ecological footprint by preparing pizzas with local ingredients, including free-range chicken, organic pepperoni, and a signature pizza sauce made from organic ingredients all the way down to the salt and spices. Chefs arrange flavor combos from the Farmer’s Market pie with roasted artichoke hearts, zucchini, and portobello mushrooms to the greek pizza scattered with kalamata olives and a four-cheese blend with feta. Gluten-free and vegan diners can get their pizza fix with pies made with soy cheese and gluten-free crust instead of just pretending to eat slices and then feeding them to pets under dinner tables.
Bill Sioutis founded the first Gondolier location in Cleveland, Tennessee, in 1974 as a place for families to gather and enjoy a rich menu of Italian and Greek specialties. Decades later, the traditional and white pizzas still use homemade dough made fresh daily and come covered with tasty toppings, such as barbecue chicken, eggplant, and artichoke. That same dough puffs up to form calzones stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta, and various toppings. Ovens bubble cheese over baked pasta dishes ranging from lasagna and ravioli to spaghetti, and Hellenic recipes rear their heads in the form of gyros, chicken souvlaki, and greek bruschetta, a blend of tomatoes, feta, kalamata olives, and drachmas.
The same love for pizza and beer that fueled three college students in 1974 transformed their lives as they expanded their business from one rundown building in Atlanta to 100 Mellow Mushroom restaurants across 15 states today. Each eatery owes its individual style to each location's being locally owned and operated, much like impressionist painters owed their individual style to their number of ears. In the kitchens, chefs assemble grilled and deli-style hoagies and bake calzones and pizzas in stone hearths using dough made with natural spring water. Though many of the restaurant's dishes have remained on the menu since its inception, the culinary crew frequently devises new, often gluten-free, dishes to keep senior-ranking pepperonis from becoming too powerful. Servers pair dishes with their location's own set of local brews, which fit into a collection of up to 100 microbrewed and imported beers on tap and in bottles. Brewers such as Bell's, Abita, and Dogfish Head are also featured in regular beer events.
Chefs at La Casa Della Pasta embellish pastas, gnocchi, and desserts made in-house with handfuls of imported Italian ingredients, including eggplant and mozzarella. As owner Enrique Tangari told the Tampa Bay Times in 2011, "I import everything, flour, water, tomatoes, cheeses … to make any kind of pasta dish you want, on the menu or not." His commitment to imported flavor also extends to the restaurant's drink menu, which features wines made from such traditional Italian varietals as pinot grigio, sangiovese, and nebbiolo, as well as beers with suspiciously small amounts of fermented grape juice.
Chefs slather linguine noodles with house-made pesto sauce, toss salmon filets atop the grill, and simmer veal scaloppini in a white wine and lemon sauce in the kitchen at Da Giuseppe Ristorante & Bar. Out in the dining room, exposed red rafters and tangerine walls surround linen-topped tables populated with towering plates of pasta and traditional Italian desserts built from scratch.
Sam's New York Pizza tantalizes taste buds with pizzas, cheesy baked pastas, and piping-hot subs alongside satisfying pub dishes of wings and pepperoni rolls. The chefs pride themselves on creating homestyle Italian cuisine that includes savory dishes of eggplant and chicken parmesan and thick-crust Sicilian pizzas. For kids’ birthday parties, they’ll even arrange toppings on pizza to look like SpongeBob’s or Herbert Hoover’s face.
San’s delectable menu bursts with a medley of homemade thin crust pizzas, piping pastas, and hearty sandwiches crafted with fresh ingredients. Dinner DJs hand-hurl each pie sky-high upon your order, slathering it in scratch-made sauce, a rich blend of cheeses, and tantalizing toppings including house-made meatballs, artichokes, eggplant, and feta ($1.95+ / slice, $7.50+ / pie). Silence trilling tummies with specialty pizzas, such as the rail-thin Cara’s Crispino sprinkled with tomato, basil, garlic, and balsamic ($2.50 / slice, $18.95 / 16’’x16’’), or the Balls of Fire pizza, a pizza topped with cheese and pizza sauce combined with a special hot sauce, meatballs, jalapeno and crushed red peppers ($18.95 / 18" large). Homemade manicotti ($10.95) and lasagna ($10.75 for cheese, $11.75 for beef) soak in flavorsome lochs of house marinara, and a bevy of hot and cold sandwiches ably sate bun enthusiasts ($5–$8.75).