Since founding Riverside Pizza in Lawrenceville in 1999, Al and Sandy Thompson have expanded their pizzeria business to a total of nine locations across the Atlanta area. The Thompsons oversee each shop, ensuring that pizza chefs top the day's dough with homemade sauce and real cheese grated by real cows. Besides loading pizzas with everything from sausage and mushrooms to barbecue chicken, the Riverside crew assembles roast beef, club, and Italian–style sandwiches alongside caesar and greek salads.
With its fresh menu concept and daily house-made pastas and sauces, Mirko Pasta brings hearty fulfillment to stomachs haunted by a persistent sense of emptiness. Diners control their flavor fates via a choose-your-own-adventure menu that allows them to concoct customized pasta and sauce combinations. The ranks of ravioli come packed with tasty fillings, such as four Italian cheeses and the granny smith apples and sausage ($4.99), while the long pasta and short pasta scrumpitously set aside their superficial differences (both $3.99). With 11 sauces to choose from, including meaty bolognese, basil-pomodoro, and pesto, guests can douse their fusilli in whatever tomato batter strikes their fancy ($3.99). A full roster of wines and domestic and imported beers flood thirsty noodle-holes before desserts, including cannoli ($4.99), cap off the meal.
The resident chefs at Azar's Mediterranean Cafe channel Greek, Lebanese, and Italian culinary traditions to craft a diverse menu of Mediterranean specialties. Prime chomping muscles with stuffed grape leaves ($2.25), which cradle rice and Mediterranean spices. Ground beef mingles with herbs and onions on the kafta platter ($9.95) and chicken shish taouk platters ($8.95) skewer garlic chicken, marinated to achieve perfect tenderness. Falafel platters ($9.95) anoint palates with meatless offerings of flash-fried chickpea spheres and grape leaves. Diners can wash down savory flavors or accidentally ingested plates with a variety of refreshing beverages, including mint iced tea and Lebanese coffee.
Named for the historical hacienda in Mexico once owned by Don Miguel Hidalgo—the father of Mexican independence—and known for its artisanal tequila, Corralejo Mexican Flair proffers south-of-the-border eats and tequila-based libations. Chefs in the kitchens of all three locations whip up traditional dishes, hand-mashing fresh avocados for batches of rich guacamole and flash-frying sun-dried-tomato tortillas to serve as a base for chimichangas. Having perfected the science of mixology during rigorous training sessions, Corralejo’s expert bartenders sling tequila-based beverages down the bar along trajectories they've carefully diagrammed on cocktail napkins.
The galleys at Joe’s to Goes garner gastronomically satisfied grins by housing a menu of handheld hunger stavers. Like a mom-piloted spoon-airplane, two toasted sesame-seed buns shepherd the half pound of ground beef, plus lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup cargo, inside Joe's original hamburger ($4.99) to eager cuisine landing zones. There is an additional charge for cheese, bacon, and extra toppings. The low-carb half-pound bacon cheeseburger, meanwhile, flavorfies the palate with gooey cheese melted over crispy bacon ($4.69). A troop of thick-cut steak fries shimmering in special seasonings rallies starving stomachs or buttresses burger-based hunger quenching, and a refreshing soft drink washes away all memories of previous meat deprivation and can be used as drinkable ink for napkin notes written with a fry.
Though Bassanos Pizzeria doesn't open until noon, its chefs bustle about the kitchen in the early morning, preparing fresh batches of dough from scratch. As the day wears on, the team hand-tosses the dough into thin, New York–style canvases ready to hold layers of gourmet meats, fine cheeses, and, according to Ann Marie Quill of Johns Creek Patch, veggies plucked from the Atlanta Farmers Market and sauces made from Italian tomatoes. Pots bubble with specialty pastas, and ovens glow with plump calzones and stromboli.
At the bar, servers dole out glasses of draft beer and wine beneath glimmering television sets. Cushy booths and tabletops speckle the dining room, where framed photographs of New York ballplayers look to steal home from the bright-red walls. Outside, umbrellas shade a fenced-in patio rife with tables and chairs. The pizzeria’s warm staff prides itself on southern-style service, creating a fun, communal atmosphere by hosting biweekly live music, overseeing trivia games, and politely allowing customers to beat them at thumb wrestling.