Throwing off the chains

OK, with 21 locations and more coming, The Loop Pizza Grill in Maitland (441 S. Orlando Ave.) is undoubtedly part of a chain. But it's a special one.

Born 20 years ago in Jacksonville, where it has consistently won "Best Of" awards for pizza and burgers, The Loop is the brainchild of Mike Schneider and Terry Schneider. The chain has slowly expanded through three states by serving tasty variations on familiar themes, like sausage-and-goat-cheese pizza and blue-cheese burgers. There is also a great veggie melt wrapped in grilled flat bread.

The pizzas come in three sizes and both thin-crust and regular varieties. The steak fries are huge, and here's where to find a mocha shake that will knock your socks off. Plus, The Loop is a wireless Internet portal, so hungry geeks with laptops can now experience virtual Heaven.

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