Papa Murphy’s, the highest-ranking pizza chain in the 2010 Zagat Fast-Food Survey, serves up a tasty menu of handmade Take 'n’ Bake pizzas made from dough, cheese, meat, and veggies that are freshly prepared every day. After customers choose their pie, Papa Murphy's slice-slingers build the pizza in-store and package it for customers to bake at home in the oven, in a pottery kiln, or over a pile of burning cookbooks. Customers can select one of Papa Murphy's signature pizzas or customize their 'za ($9.99 for a large with one topping) to a more specific taste, choosing from four sauces, three crusts, and more than 20 toppings.
Warm, natural woods, terra cotta, wrought-iron fixtures, and exposed ceiling beams lend the upscale eatery an Old World charm studded with pops of contemporary green chairs, red lamp shades, and ethereal purple lights glowing above the bar. Overlooking scenic Big Walnut Creek and its surrounding park, the dining room is a romantic and comfortable spot for first dates that's free of the stuffy atmosphere and snooty waiters commonly associated with date-night fare. For an even better view and more intimate outing, hit the outdoor patio, where a fire pit casts flattering light and warm fuzzies on couples, old friends, and former P.E. teachers.
In 1974, the founders of Mellow Mushroom were self-proclaimed hippies who devoted a lot of thought to what the perfect pizza would be like. The overarching criteria was simple: make the most "craveable slice of pizza on the planet." The crew opened their first shop in Atlanta, and have since expanded across the country. Each of their pizza outposts serve up pies such as the Kosmic Karma with feta cheese, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and a swirl of pesto. Mellow Mushroom's menu also includes hoagies with all-natural meats, as well as salads, "munchies," and beer, which can be sipped a la carte or as part of the restaurant's beer club.
Sturdy, huge, and basking in the warmth of candles suspended overhead, the community table inside Mia Cucina's Powell outpost is an apt metaphor for the community that frequents the restaurant. At both locations, a sense of hospitality vies with the aromas of house sauces to charm those who walk through the doors. Children—who dine gratis on Mondays and Wednesdays—peruse a specialized menu with mazes and games, absorbing trivia about Italy's climate, its inventions, and the volcanoes that spew marinara sauce. Adults scan their own menu, which embraces Italian staples along with more updated plates, from chicken parmesan to pesto-rubbed mahi-mahi fillets.
When they aren't browsing the cuisine, their eyes might linger on the shelves of the floating bar, where wine bottles and glasses levitate over the counter instead of bogarting the chairs. The surrounding wall mimics gray stonework, adding a rustic cellar ambiance to the setting, though the white cloths draped over each table bespeak modern sophistication. The murmur of conversations between families, friends, and couples pervades the genial space, where Mia Cucina insists "everyone's Italian."
Dough flips through the air, releasing a cumulonimbus of flour as it lands softly in the hands of chef David Zadnik, who crafts the crucial ingredient each day with help from local ingredients and family recipes. The heritage of the eatery doesn?t just shine through in culinary formulas; the walls at both locations shimmer with old family photos from David's basement and glossy sports memorabilia. Strains of Frank Sinatra spread out smoothly behind conversations in dining rooms dappled with warm wood accents, occasionally spilling out to an outdoor patio or across the Westerville location's outdoor bocce-ball court. Guests sit down for pastas, sandwiches, and suds from Great Lakes Brewery and Peroni, often unaware that these tables held a victory dinner for pugilist Buster Douglas when he returned from defeating Mike Tyson in Japan, but before he picked up his victory dry cleaning.