This restaurant is at the corner of 124 and Springdale, in a shopping mall that has a really big Kroger. You’ll see the Kroger long before you see the Johnny’s, while heading south down 124 in the direction of Lithonia. The mall itself is ‘V’ shaped, with a point, and the Johnny’s is located right at the point. The store itself is modest, with about 8 booths along the far side, 2 booths on the near side, and 6 tables scattered in the middle.  There are bar chairs alongside a gaming machine, a Johnny’s clock on the wall, and 3 televisions scattered through the store. Wall decor is largely beer advertisements and neon.  This Johnny’s tends to have one cook and one active waitstaff.

The taste of Johnny’s Pizza is worth some trouble. At one job location, Johnny’s was our favorite eatery. 5 or 6 of us would pile in a car and head to the restaurant. Since no one had money at lunch, it was a lot of pizza slices, meat ball subs, the occasional pepperoni calzone. One of their large slices and a soft drink is often more than enough to keep going for another 4 hours.

Slices at Johnny’s start at $1.85, and go up by the ingredients added. Johnny’s has 19 specialty pies, from a simple pesto pie to their Johnny’s Deluxe. Medium pizzas start at about $10.95 and large pizzas start at $12.95. Their oven baked subs run about $5 to $6 and the parmigiana subs are close to $6. They have lunch specials Monday through Thursday and they will deliver, for a $10.00 minimum.

Service is pretty good, considering. Because staff is limited, you won’t be waited on hand and foot every minute of your stay. But in my experience this is a very honest little restaurant and they’ll give you the best they can. The last time I went, a discussion of “Twilight” broke out among customers and staff. There is very little pretense here.

Verdict: Recommended. Crisp tasty pizzas, good sandwiches, and calzones.

Johnny’s New York Style Pizza and Subs
3035 Centerville Hwy
Snellville, GA 30078
(770) 978-8180

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Mellow Mushroom is something of an Atlanta area institution. Working with a late 60’s psychedelic theme, this series of franchise restaurants has been putting out good pizzas, good hoagies, good calzones for decades. In a region not known for good crusts, Mellow Mushroom pizzas have good crusts.  Prices tend to be reasonable as well. Slices start at $2.10. Small pizzas start at $7.25 and large at $12.25. The large easily feeds everyone in my family of 3, with leftovers.

The Snellville Mellow Mushroom is located on highway 78, north of the Regal Cinema mall, north of Dickey’s BBQ. It’s found in a building of its own on the right hand side while traveling towards Athens from Snellville.  There is seating both inside and on a patio outside. There are both booths and tables inside.

In my hands and over my length of commute, this is a pizza that travels pretty well. It maintains crispness despite being boxed. Personal favorites among their named pizzas are the House Special, the Gourmet White, and the Mighty Meaty. Among their hoagies over the years, I’ve had pretty good luck with the steak and cheese hoagie. My wife is fond of the small greek salad. And their menu is online.

Service isn’t bad here, especially given how hectic the place gets at times. If I have any complaint about this restaurant, sometimes it is too popular for its own good and gets a little noisy. I will have to say the last 2-3 times I’ve been here, it has been pretty quiet.

Verdict: Recommended. Crisp crust pizzas with good ingredients that travel well make this place a keeper.

Mellow Mushroom
2000 Main Street East
Snellville, GA 30078
(770) 736-9396

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Il Forno is on the corner of Five Forks and Oak Road, just a block from the Five Forks – Ronald Reagan intersection. It used to be part of a chain, but was bought out by local ownership. I had eaten there a lot when it was part of the chain, but almost never since. When it was a chain, it delivered a surprisingly good pizza pie for a Southern corner shop. And I had been growing increasingly curious if the new ownership had found out how to consistently make a good crust.

The inside of the restaurant is attractive. The countertop is a steel surface and the chairs and tables are nice. There aren’t very many of them. I counted 7 tables inside. They do have outside seating, however, and when the weather is mild they can handle more people. The waitress and the cooks (visible as you sit) were all wearing I Love New York shirts and/or hats. A black T shirt was the uniform of choice.

I looked for something with pepperoni and some Italian sausage, and the only thing on the menu that fit was the Cardiology special. I ordered a 12″ pie and a beer. The on-tap beer selection is quite good if you’re into the heavier ales: Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada,  Pilsner Urquell, Brooklyn Ale, etc. The pie took a little time, and I was on my second beer when it arrived.

It’s a thin crust pizza, and given the lightness of the crust, it had a respectable set of toppings on it. I could see that the crust was browned on the edges, but the take home lesson would be in the center of the pie. I’ve spent a couple years in the Northeast, and the one thing you can count on in a Pennsylvania or New York pie is a crispy crust. And in a joint claiming a New York heritage, don’t even bother if the crust isn’t good.

I pulled out a slice, took a bite. It was crisp from tip to tail. In all honesty I was a bit relieved. You always hope a place this nice looking will put up food to match its looks and it did. Now I will warn people that the thin crust doesn’t stay crispy terribly long. In my estimation this is a pie to be eaten on the premises, and not taken home. Before I was finished the toppings were steaming the crust in the middle and the interior inch or two had lost its crispiness. Of course, there was just one of me and a 12″ pie to navigate. Served to 2 or 3 people, this pie would be just fine.

I didn’t order salads or calzones as I was there, but I saw them made and pass by. The calzones are simply enormous. The salads looked good, but they also looked a lot like they were assembled from precut pizza toppings.

The base (sauce and cheese) 12″ pizza runs about $11.00. The 16″ runs about $12.50. Toppings run from a dollar each to $3.00 for chicken. Named pizzas range from $13-$17 in the 12″ size and $14-$20 in the 16″ size. Pasta dishes run from $8.00 to $14.00, but most under $11.00. Calzones and Strombolis range from $6-$9.

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