When I was young and going out to Mario’s or Pasquale’s, in Royal Oak, Mich., after a high school football game, pizza was simple and singular — a chewy, yeasty crust liberally smeared with acidic tomato sauce and topped with pepperoni and cheese. Oh, that cheese! Garden-variety mozzarella in strings that extended from as high up as your arm could hold the piece of pizza down to your mouth, and sometimes below.
Today, pizza is everywhere and everything. Some fans stay close to the tried and true; others are more adventurous, exploring the likes of the Ritz-Carlton’s cremini mushroom white pizza. But even the most devoted bec fin brings a pizza home once in a while. Here are some folks’ choices across demography and geography.
This is easy. Ciáo is definitely our No. 1 pizza place. Lenny likes the pizza he grew up on in New Jersey. So he needs sausage or pepperoni. I basically like what we call designer pizza ... lots of goat cheese, mozzarella, spinach, and no tomato sauce. Ciáo will give us a half and half pizza if he leaves off the sauce. Then he gets a side order of sauce and fixes his pizza slices like he wants them. We are both happy and full!
— Susan Landau, Longboat Key
Café Epicure — I like to sit at the bar, closer to the oven when it’s chilly outside. I just ask Pepe for a pizza with no cheese and whatever vegetables he wants to throw on there. I haven’t been disappointed.
— Colleen Yuskaitis, Sarasota
With 17- and 18-year-old girls running through the house, we have had quite a few cardboard boxes delivered on Friday and Saturday nights. Kayla insists on Domino’s. I like it when we get Papa John’s. While most normal people would go to the Ritz for fine dining, Sharon Black and I would sneak off for a little girl time and meet at the Cá D’Zan Lounge. Their “white” pizza is fabulous! They call it cremini mushroom white pizza with truffles, ricotta and spinach.
— Mollie Nelson, Sarasota
(Editor’s note: Yes, you can carry-out pizza from the Ritz-Carlton bar.)
OK, the best pizza is from Rico’s, and the reason is the crust — they make it there, slinging it around in the air — the whole bit. It is fabulous. My favorite toppings are anchovies and pepperoni, with lots of cheese.
— Butch Amerson, Sarasota
My favorite pizza is at Valentino Pizzeria Trattoria on Clark Road. They have a quaint eat-in restaurant, but I usually call for delivery. My favorite is the bruschetta pizza that has fresh tomato, basil, arugula and fresh mozzarella on a warm, brick-oven crust (the toppings are cold). They serve pizza by the slice and whole.
— Coral Pleas, Lakewood Ranch
We do order pizza — from Pizza Hut and others, including Little Caesar.
— Bruce and India Lesser, Laurel Oak
Mine is Michael Angelo on State Road 70 and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.
As close to New York pizza as you can get ...
— Iris Starr, Lakewood Ranch
Cá D’Zan Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota — 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, 309-2000
Ciáo Italia Casual Italian — 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, 383-0010
Café Epicure — 1298 N Palm Ave # A, Sarasota, 366-5648
Michael Angelo Pizza and Italian — 11517 Palmbrush Trail, Bradenton, 739-5656
Rico’s Pizza — multiple locations in Sarasota, 366-8988
Valentino Pizzeria Trattoria — 4045 Clark Road, 921-9600