PAPAPAVLOS BISTRO & BAR
Chicken & Pesto Pizza
By Nora Heston Tarte
As children, Americans are groomed to love pizza. From the kid’s menu at your parent’s favorite family restaurant to childhood birthday parties, pizza is a staple of the American diet.
Ordering pizza is no longer a question of cheese or pepperoni. There are now countless combinations that can be made freestyle from a list of available toppings, as well as a long list of signature pies with divine descriptions crafted to pull you in. Whether you hunger after a traditional taste—like Hawaiian—or something with a little more flavor and imagination, there is no shortage of spots to satisfy your craving in San Joaquin County.
Go gourmet at an upscale eatery, or take it old school at a classic pizza joint. With plenty of options and offerings, there’s no excuse not to give in to your pizza temptation.[columns] [column size=”2/3″]
Towne House Restaurant
Tucked away in Lodi’s Wine & Roses, the lounge at Towne House restaurant boasts an eclectic menu for you to enjoy while listening to live music and sipping on specialty cocktails and fine wines. Piled high with quality, farm-fresh ingredients, the Smoked Salmon Pizza at Towne House speaks to the overall caliber of the restaurant. The seafood dish is a far cry from your typical pepperoni, made with locally sourced ingredients like chives, lemon zest, capers and shaved red onions—not to mention delectable crème fraiche.
The salmon pie is only available on the lounge menu, but a fig pizza appetizer—made with prosciutto, goat cheese and caramelized onions—graces both the lunch and dinner menu; and is a good second bet.
At the helm of Towne House, and the man responsible for these innovative dishes, is Chef John Hitchcock, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. He also opened Rosewood Bar & Grill in 2003, the company’s sister restaurant.
Don’t forget to ask about the history of the storied Towne House when you visit, a place that was once known for hosting garden parties and family gatherings with a warm, welcoming atmosphere the venue still strives for today.
Tap House Pizza
A far cry from your chain pizza restaurant, this pizza pub prioritizes creativity and innovation. In addition to classic favorites—Hawaiian and combination—there is no shortage of unique flavor pairings at Tap House in Lodi.
Perhaps their most popular craft pizza item is the 14” Baked Potato Pizza. Fresh broccoli, bacon crumbles, green onions and baked potato slices melt together with cheddar cheese over creamy garlic sauce and a drizzle of house-made ranch dressing. If that description doesn’t pull you in, try the Bacon Apple Slices creation—mozzarella cheese, apple slices topped with bacon crumbles and creamy garlic sauce.
The pizza pioneers don’t stop there. Any one of their craft pizzas has a diverse blend of flavors and aromas, from a cheeseburger invention to a pizza reminiscent of turkey potpie. The colorful pizzas are picture-perfect served in the restaurant, or at home.
Twelve rotating craft beers act as the perfect appetizer for your craft pizza, in addition to one of their other out-of-the-box culinary precursors.
Papapavlos Bistro & Bar
Papapavlos is anything but a casual pizza joint. The continental restaurant with a Mediterranean flair serves a packed menu for lunch and dinner, and while pizza may not be their main dish, it is a dish they do well.
Keeping with the Mediterranean theme, the Gyro Pizza is a must-try. Traditionally, a gyro is a Greek sandwich assembled with rotisserie meat, tomato, onion and tzatziki sauce, (occasionally cheese or hummus is used in place of meat). At Papavalos, the pizza version features tomato sauce, mozzarella, red onions and tomatoes.
Another favorite is the Chicken and Pesto Pizza—grilled chicken breast on mozzarella, pesto, sun dried tomatoes, red bell peppers, red onions, garlic and crumbled feta cheese. Aegean Pizza and Mediterranean Pizza are also available.
The open concept, exposed kitchen gives you an exciting glimpse into the restaurant’s food preparation to watch meals be prepared, while socializing over a cocktail at the full service bar.
The establishment’s four banquet rooms are the perfect location to host a pizza party, as well. The rooms provide a private dining experience for 10-100 people.
Pietro’s Trattoria takes pizza back to its Italian roots. The kitchen has its own garden where they pick fresh ingredients for all of their dishes, truly embracing the farm to fork method. In fact, before you step foot in the restaurant you’ll catch a glimpse of the ingredients you are about to consume: tomatoes growing on iron trellises, blooming basil plants and a spattering of other Italian staples—eggplant, peppers and herbs.
Staying true to their cultural influence, pizza is a staple on Pietro’s menu. From a Margherita Pizza—tomato sauce, olive oil, mozzarella and fresh basil—to a Calabria Pizza—spicy meatballs, marinara sauce, provolone cheese and red pepper flakes—there’s something for everyone on the list. However, the restaurant’s standouts include a couple of green pizzas that get ample support from the outdoor garden. The Roman Special Pizza is a colorful blend of fresh arugula and San Daniele prosciutto melted together with mozzarella cheese and finished with olive oil. The Piemonte Pizza features brussel sprouts, bel paese cheese, caramelized onions and pancetta topped with pesto.
The eye-catching presentation—each oblong pizza is served on a wooden tray—and oversized toppings scream gourmet.
Rosewood Bar & Grill
Rosewood’s farm-to-table process takes advantage of the region’s wealth of fresh fruit and vegetables, serving up local cuisine in a casual, yet refined, setting. Their dedication to using fresh ingredients means their menu rotates seasonally, and their pizza offerings change daily.
In order to maximize the best ingredients, the menu offers a Rosewood Pizza, an item that is dependent upon the food in season and in stock as well as the chef’s creative whim. In the past, this traditional 10” pizza round has come in not-so-traditional flavors such as Philly cheese steak, complete with prime rib slices, and baked potato. For summer, Rosewood used their ripe heirloom tomatoes to bring Magherita pizza to the table.
Always dependable, however, is Rosewood’s Sicilian pizza. The sausage, pepperoni and Portobello mushroom creation is finished with red sauce and mozzarella cheese. Whether it’s pizza du jour or a menu staple, the pizza dough is house made, hand kneaded and cooked in a fire-burning oven at 600 degrees to achieve pizza perfection.
Eggs on a pizza? It may seem a bit odd, but hey—people put them on their burgers, don’t they? At Garlic Brothers, pizza chefs create bizarre, mouthwatering combinations. From the Eggxtreme pizza—stacked with sausage, bell peppers, tomatoes, pesto sauce, seasoned arugula and, of course, eggs served on a thick crust to other uncanny inventions: Chop Stick—topped with prawns, pot stickers, green onions, garlic, cream cheese and a sweet chili sauce drizzle—which offers an Asian flare to this Italian staple; BBQ Chicken—a thin crusted pie with chicken, gorgonzola cheese, smoked mushrooms and red onions; and Pleasure Point—made with artichoke hearts, black olives, sun dried tomatoes, pesto and feta cheese on a thin crust.
If you’re looking for something slightly more conventional, that’s here, too. From The Chubby—pepperoni on thick crust—to the New Yorker—thick crust with salami, sausage, pepperoni, bell peppers, black olives, red onion and smoked mushrooms—there are six stone oven pizzas in all, plus an assortment of scrumptious appetizers, soups and salads to round out your meal.
Smack Pie Pizza
When nothing on the menu satisfies your craving, turn to Smack Pie Pizza where patrons have the opportunity to create a completely individualized pizza. This niche pizza spot in Lodi allows you to “smack” their personal pie with different ingredients, making a meal that is completely your own.
Dante’s Pizza & Cafe
Whether you’re looking to dine-in, carry out or sit back and relax while the delivery team does the work, Dante’s Pizza in Stockton caters to your needs. Rotating specials give ample discounts on the pizzeria’s menu of pies named for California locales like The Old Carmel and Big Sur.
David’s New York Style Pizza
Located in Lincoln Center, it’s convenient to stop in to David’s for lunch or dinner while you’re out and about in Stockton. In addition to hand-tossed New York-style pizzas boasting the freshest ingredients, David’s menu includes a selection of other grub: appetizers, salads, soups and sandwiches.
Eric’s New York Style Pizza
Formally known as Rick’s New York Style Pizza, the same owners have been dishing up hand-tossed pies in Stockton since 1980. In addition to 11 specialty pizzas, patrons are invited to create their own from a list of toppings. You can grab it to go and enjoy your meal at home, or stop in for a home-like experience where someone else will handle the cleanup.
Joe’s Pomodoro Pizza Café
This Stockton establishment carries a line of traditional pizzas, but the menu ups the ante with new favorites. From Taco Pizza—complete with beef and taco seasoning, shredded lettuce, fresh tomatoes and sour cream—to Pomodoro’s Hot & Spicy—featuring Louisiana-style hot sausage, red onions, jalapeños and tomatoes—there’s a little bit of everything on this one-of-a-kind menu.
Michael’s New York Style Pizza
This crave-worthy Stockton pizza isn’t quite New York-style. Despite being hand-tossed, the crust is thick, not thin. However, that is part of the appeal according to Michael’s staff! At Michael’s you can create your own pizza or choose from classic offerings—like Hawaiian Delight—to unique options—Pear Gorgonzola Cheese, anyone?
Start off your meal at Rick’s Pizza in Lodi with an appetizer of mac ‘n’ cheese bites or battered green beans before delving into your favorite pie. The classic menu offers freestyle ordering as well as a selection of specialty pizzas featuring classic flavors like the veggie or Hawaiian combo.
A Slice of History
Historians are at battle over the exact origination of pizza, however, the most commonly accepted belief is that Italians invented the culinary favorite. Similar dishes date back to ancient times, but the pizza that we all know and love today—topped with tomatoes, cheese and other ingredients—is a product of Naples. In fact, Naples is home to the world’s first pizza shop—dubbed Port ‘Alba—which opened in 1830 and still serves pizza today.
As a Matter of Pie…
Pizza is so revered that Americans have dedicated an entire month to its celebration; October is National Pizza Month.
According to poll data, the average American will consume a minimum of 6,000 slices of pizza in their lifetime.
Domino’s Pizza reports that Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day of the year for pizza deliveries.
In 2014, Pali Grewal was crowned the fastest pizza maker in the world after making three large pizzas in a mere 32.28 seconds.
It’s no contest; pepperoni crushes the competition when it comes to favorite pizza topping. Mushrooms, onions and sausage rank high, too.