301 E. Battlefield Rd., Springfield, 417-886-9600, gogrotto.com
California–style pizzas at The Grotto are all made on fresh dough and feature hand-cut mozzarella, provolone, sea salt, cracked pepper and herbs. The sauce here is a spicier, fuller herb sauce that’s made with crushed red pepper and plenty of fresh garlic. “There’s some actual heat as far as spice goes, but we’ve toned it down a bit,” says owner Mark Coleman. In addition to red sauce, The Grotto makes all the sauces for its specialty pies, including a Thai peanut sauce for the Thai Chicken, the peach habanero sauce for the Carnitas Habanero and the Jamaican jerk sauce for the Calypso. “We offer all of those specialties in the summer months,” Coleman says. A favorite specialty on the menu all of the time is the Haight Ashbury.
Try This Pie: The Haight Ashbury- The Grotto loads this pie with freshly made pesto, Roma tomatoes, portobellos, button mushrooms, caramelized onions, fresh garlic, fresh basil, bacon and Asiago cheese.
250 E. Highway 60, Republic, 417-732-5311; 420 S. Highway 60, Suite 1, Marionville, 417-463-2700; 105 S. Water St., Nixa, 417-725-3000; roccospizzaandsubs.com
“I think I know about every New York or New Jersey guy in this area,” says John Palazzolo, who owns the Rocco’s franchise and the Nixa restaurant. That’s because East Coast natives flock to Rocco’s to feed their cravings for authentic New York–style pizza, which Rocco’s creates daily from recipes Palazzolo’s dad used to serve at restaurants in New Jersey and North Carolina. Palazzolo makes the dough and sauce each day for all of the Rocco’s locations, ensuring a consistent taste. This dough and sauce are later turned into a delicious pie, baked and sliced into giant triangles that are perfect for folding as you devour them. If you have a hankering for another East Coast favorite, try the spot’s Philly cheesesteaks.
Try This Pie: The meat-lover’s with pepperoni, bacon, freshly sliced ham and freshly sliced sausage.
104 West St., Stockton, 417-276-2221
Dough at Bongo’s Bistro is made differently than your traditional pizza dough: It has Italian seasonings blended inside. The pizza is available in thin crust, traditional or deep dish, and it’s always topped with the restaurant’s thicker-than-average sauce and tasty buffalo mozzarella. Signature pies at Bongo’s include the chicken Alfredo with homemade Alfredo sauce (chicken Alfredo is among the Italian eatery’s most popular dishes) and the Philly cheesesteak that’s made with steak, onions, green peppers and Swiss and mozzarella cheeses.
Try This Pie: Owner Aubrey Foster’s favorite is The Judge pizza, which is topped with pepperoni, spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic and banana peppers. “I like it on a thin crust,” Foster says.
Bud & Walt’s Pizza & Pasta House
701 N. McCroskey Ste. 1, Nixa, 417-724-0070, budandwalts.com
Bud & Walt’s has been serving up Chicago-style pies since it opened in 2007, but it’s most likely not the Chicago–style you expect. “Most people think of Chicago-style as deep dish, which it is, but before the deep dish there was a thin crust, especially in East Chicago,” says managing partner Leon Fisher. And this is what Bud & Walt’s specializes in. “It’s very different than St. Louis–style pizza, but it is square cut,” Fisher says. At Bud & Walt’s, homemade dough is topped with a lot of sauce that’s a little bit sweeter than most, and toppings go from edge to edge. Both the sausage and ground beef are made in-house and cooked on top of the pizza. The restaurant also has wheat crust and gluten-free crust, and half of all profits goes to mission work. Good pie and a good deed? We like it.
Try This Pie: The Chi-town Bacon Cheeseburger with homemade sauce, freshly ground beef, onions, bacon and mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.
Hook & Ladder Pizza Company
26 Downing St., Hollister, 417-336-4665, hookandladderpizza.com
A year and a half ago, Heather Herd decided to add a restaurant to Hollister’s dining scene, so she opened Hook & Ladder Pizza Company with her husband, Dave (a firefighter). Themed to promote the local fire department, Hook & Ladder serves up some seriously delicious pizza with freshly made dough and sauce, hand-cut veggies and other top-notch toppings. If red sauce isn’t your cup of tea, you can order pies with Alfredo. There’s even an Alfredo specialty pizza with chicken, onions, mushrooms and a special cheese blend.
Try This Pie: If you like spice, try out the 3 Alarm pizza with the restaurant’s super-spicy 3 Alarm hot sauce, chicken, onions and jalepeños.
Dough stretches far beyond the pizza pan. Local pizzerias serve up other tasty dough-centric goodies, too. Here are just a few.
$7 per order at Rocco’s Palace Pizza
The same size as a pizza, orders of these cheesesticks are made with dough that’s covered with Italian seasoning, garlic salt, pomace oil and a couple of cheese blends (including mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella and provolone). They’re served with marinara or ranch dressing for dipping.
$7.95 at D’Arpino’s Italian Café
Simplicity is delicious at D’Arpino’s. To create this mouthwatering bread, pepperoni and mozzarella are simply rolled up inside the fresh dough, then baked and served with marinara.
Starting at 99 cents at Jax and Gabe’s Pizzeria
To create these little masterpieces, fresh pieces of hand-tossed dough are brushed with garlic butter and a special blend of Italian seasonings. And if you’re a dipper, be glad—they’re served with marinara sauce.
$2.50 for six at The Big Slice
Perfect for enjoying after a slice of spicy pie, these treats are made with bits of homemade dough that have been tossed in butter and cinnamon sugar. Bonus: They’re served with homemade icing.
Free with pasta and entrees or 25 cents for individual loaves at Bongo’s Bistro
In addition to being rolled into a pizza, dough at Bongo’s is formed into mini loaves of bread, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with mozzarella, baked and served with Italian seasonings and more oil. Yummo!
$2.49–6.99 at Bud & Walt’s Pizza & Pasta House
These made-from-scratch pockets feature fresh dough that’s stuffed full of mozzarella and pepperoni, brushed with garlic butter and oregano, baked and served with a side of marinara.
$6.95–9.95 at Mama’s Style Kitchen
Basically a folded pizza, this yummy creation features freshly made dough that’s filled with cheese, sauce and a load of mouthwatering toppings.
Starting at $8.50 at Mr. Bigg’s
Made with hand-tossed dough, calzones here are filled with mozzarella cheese and toppings and served with a side of meat sauce. Can't choose between pie or a calzone? Try one of each!
Forget boring pepperoni—local pizza joints are serving up pies with some one-of-a-kind toppings you have to try.
More Must-Try Toppings:
Shrimp at Mr. Bigg’s
Thinly sliced Italian beef at Mr. Gilberti’s
Venison at Rocco’s Pizza Palace
Greek sausage at Arris’ Pizza
Jerk sausage at The Big Slice
Broccoli at Jax and Gabe’s Pizzeria
Avocado at Cravin’ Pizza
Date Lady Sauce at Pizza Nights at Millsap Farms