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Restaurant lunch highlights:

Leonardo's Millhopper

Leonardo's Millhopper

I say thin and crispy. You say deep dish, thick crust. I say loaded with toppings, you say cheese. It's pizza one way or the other. I just counted 18 different pizza lunch stops on the Urban GLOB map. That's not including Domino's, Five Star, Papa John's, and other franchise locations.  Leonardo's Pizza in the Milllhopper Shopping Center holds a gold pizza slicer as one of the all time favorite thick, crispy, multi topping pizzas. If you read below you will see by example GLOB Content Editor Lynn Dirk and her family clan still meet at Leo's for pizza many, many years after graduating and leaving Gainesville. The pizza is really good. And that is coming from a lover of paper thin crust. That's not the case here on the corner of NW 43rd St. and NW 16th Blvd. The ingredients are fresh and generously portioned, the sauce very tomato-ey. Oh and the crust. Well, it's unique, a little on the cakey side for the GLOB Master. That said, this is excellent pizza. Lynn and I will order from the Special Daily Slice menu ($3.77) that changes every day. Lynn has ordered the broccoli and sausage for a 100 years I think, but as a wannabe vegetarian, she is transitioning to onions, black olives, and maybe a 3rd veggie now and then. It is delicious every time. I've been stuck on yummy pepperoni. The slices are just the right size at Leo's. I don't have to worry about leaving leftovers or taking to-go boxes with me. Lynn and I have a good plan where I order the Slice Special of a slice, salad bar, soft drink for 8.49. This special is available all day and night. Lynn gets an additional slice and with drinks we are a little over $20 bucks for one of the best pizza lunches in town.

- GLOB Master

LeonardoTOPPERgif

Gville's perfect 'cheese 'n crust superstar' pizza!

By Lynn Dirk, GLOB Staff Writer, Content Editor

leonardossfAs hinted elsewhere in the GLOB (Lynn Dirk Profile), Leonardo's Pizza has a long history in Gainesville – since 1976 . . . almost 35 years!

Despite the intense pizza competition that has developed in Gainesville (some equally good but different varieties), Leonardo's continues to provide pizza that pleases. Interestingly,

although Leonardo's by the Slice and Leonardo's 706 have the same owners, the pizza at By the Slice is identical – or almost so -- to the pizza at Leonardo's Pizza of Millhopper. That's because the Millhopper Leonardo's was started by the person who owns 706 and By the Slice, and the person who bought the Millhopper restaurant (in 1979) kept the décor and pizza just as the original owner did it.So I am talking about the original Chicago style pizza that is served at By the Slice and Millhopper. This is the best broccoli and sausage pizza ever . . . and I've tried it at the other great Gainesville pizzerias but nothing can compare:

LEOSmh3panel- The broccoli: It has to be fresh of course. Other places also offer fresh broccoli as a topping, BUT Leonardo's gets the pieces just the right size: bite size! They stick out from under the cheese and sometimes get browned. That gives it an amazing flavor.

- The sausage: Crumbled into, again, perfect bite size pieces. Italian.

- The cheese: Lots of it and of course that goes wonderful with broccoli. The cheese does NOT slide off the pizza – or at least not the whole blanket of it.

- The sauce: Lots of tomato sauce and pieces of tomato. I never really knew how good it is until I started thinking about the whole group of pizzas in town as the GLOB was being developed. Leonardo's truly has great tomato sauce.

- The crust: Plain old delicious, crusty bread. I always ask that it be well done. I like to do healthy food and I have tried the wheat crust, but it just never seems to be completely done, so I make it a white crust. Recently, they have made it more of a yeast bread. Not as crunchy, but still good.

Put that all together and that is my idea of a perfect pizza. It LEOStiffanyRooftakes awhile to make, usually at least 20 minutes, so be prepared to wait or call ahead. When this same pizza was being served at 706 I would go there with my sister Lori (a former UF Lady Gator 2nd base softball player) and friends, and we would play penny football until our pizza came. Now we play Bananagrams at the Millhopper location.

A special treat at Leonardo's is their garlic rolls: Knots of the crusty pizza bread, white and/or wheat, in a soupy mixture of garlic, olive oil, and . . . well, I hope it is butter, but it might be margarine. I am going to have to check on that. The rolls are not good for you, but they sure do taste good.

Leonardo's Millhopper also has a smallish salad bar. I have never done that because the pizza and rolls are always so filling. But recently I finally gave it a try and it was very good. They have an interesting array of ingredients that reflect their pizza toppings, but also include garbanzo beans. No cukes, but pepperoni makes up for that! Not as healthy but still very good. They have a vinaigrette/Italian option included with the other dressings in the typical buffet container that you ladle out. That was very good dressing.

Service is friendly and generally prompt. They serve half pitchers of beer, which is a nice touch when there's only two or three of you. – of course, you might not want to do that at lunch.

They have interesting art at their booths along the wall. I prefer the Mount St. Helen's booth or the Word Find picture (you actually get a black marker to circle all the words you can find).

Last but not least is their pizza oven. It is amazing to watch. I always spend a little time watching it whenever I go. There's a sliding glass door that slowly closes automatically when the cooks let go of it, and it makes a gentle thud as it closes. Inside are rotating shelves, and the cooks slide in new pizzas, move others up or down to a different shelf – I think that is part of the cooking process, and pull out the ones that are done. Next time you go take a minute to check out the oven: Watch the hypnotic comings, goings, and shufflings of the pizzas and enjoy the wonderful odor, and, on colder days, the warmth that hovers around the oven.

The Pluses and Minuses of Leonardos Millhopper:

The Leonardo's Millhopper + indicators : The pizza

The Leonardo's Millhopper - indicators  : Maybe the rug?? But you know what, this place is NOT noisy!!!! This is one of the few restaurants in town that is actually peaceful. Hey even the negative has a positive at this place!

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Leonardos Millhopper.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

Editor's Note: Lynn Dirk is an administrator in the US Department of Veterans Affairs Brain Rehabilitation Research Center and a devout enthusiast of all food things healthy.
Last modified onWednesday, 17 May 2017 05:02

Additional Info

  • Phone Number: 376-2001
  • Address: 4131 NW 16th Blvd., Gaineville, FL
  • Urban GLOB Location: NW 16th Avenue
  • Latitude: 29.673229
  • Longitude: -82.388198
From:

7 comments

  • Ken
    Ken Tuesday, 16 May 2017 14:05 Comment Link

    I'd agree, this is "different" pizza from the rest of Gainesville. Thick, whole wheat crust and almost a casserole as toppings. Even with a $20+ plus cost a pizza here is a real treat. We've been coming here since the 70's and I do wish they'd clean up a bit. I think it is the same paint, carpet and restrooms since 1979

  • Rob
    Rob Tuesday, 03 September 2013 09:58 Comment Link

    I ordered Leo's Millhopper to go and was very disappointed...lousy pizza and way over priced

  • Georganne
    Georganne Thursday, 28 March 2013 11:03 Comment Link

    My brother grew up here and now lives in Ocala. If he comes up for lunch, we usually meet at the Millhopper Leonardos. Last time we were there we made Greg sing his ad song – “Oh no, it’s not only sauce and dough, it’s Leonardo’s!” We’ve also been waited on by his son, Chris, who is younger than the restaurant. It’s a true Gainesville eatery!

  • Kevin F.
    Kevin F. Tuesday, 11 October 2011 11:55 Comment Link

    Growing up in Chicago I always loved Nancy's, Giordano's, Lou Malnotti's, etc. The deep dish pizza is a fantastic invention. Leonardo's Millhopper comes close with a slightly more muted version of the famous Chicago product. It is my absolutely favorite pizza in Gainesville, no doubt. It is a huge value if you consider cost per pound... A large pizza is a lot of pizza!

  • Brette Liebler
    Brette Liebler Tuesday, 11 October 2011 11:00 Comment Link

    Since Tony and Pat's is no longer with us, this is the BEST place to get pizza. And while the by the slice might start the same, getting it fresh in the deep dish pan at your table is the way to go. I know folks like Satchel's, and I am jealous of his genius bumperstickers, but hands down this is the best pizza this side of Chicago. Their marinara is not crap in a can or over blended sauce- there are still chunks of tomatoes in it- YUM. Simply put, if you haven't been, GO. Yes, it takes a while. Yes, it is pricey if you think about their cost versus yours, but then you must include the important (to me) question when spending money at a restaurant and questioning yourself about the value: Can I do this easily or at all at home? And the answer is NO. They are, to my knowledge, the only place left in town with the rotating stone oven- the racks help maintain the temperatuire and give you that crunchy crust with the soft inside. I still miss Tony and Pat's,but Leo's rocks.

  • Jeff
    Jeff Sunday, 10 October 2010 10:14 Comment Link

    I left Gainesville nearly 15 years ago after graduation and when ever I go back for a game Leonardo's Millhopper is a must. I begin thinking of the pizza at the Georgia line and by the time I arrive I'm craving the pizza. If you haven't tried this pizza then you have not tried the best pan pizza on the planet. It also makes a great lunch the next day should a piece or two survive the night.

  • Pam H.
    Pam H. Friday, 27 August 2010 10:14 Comment Link

    YUMMMMO! They have some darn good pizzas and their garlic rolls are to die for. They're a bit on the expensive side, but the product is worth every penny.

    + = Big Leo pizza
    - = salad bar has few choices

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