Tommaso's Italian Grill warms bellies with a menu of American favorites and pizzas concocted from house-made dough and freshly made sauces. The chefs hand-toss dough ($7+ for cheese and one topping) and artfully decorate disks with jalapeño, hamburger, and spinach ($1.25+/topping) before hanging them on the back diners' chairs. Between bites of hot wings ($5.99 for seven), guests can solicit investment advice from a collection of sage bobbleheads on a windowsill or catch reflections of a double meat burger ($6.99) on the surface of a hanging disco ball. Augment a selection of pastas ($7.99+) with homemade sauces—such as simple garlic and olive oil or a protein-rich meat sauce—and top dishes off with a pair of meatballs ($2) or a sextet of shrimp ($4).
With parents hailing from Sicily and Naples, Anthony Russo enjoyed an Italian upbringing. By age 12, he spent much of his time in the kitchen, learning to prepare Old World recipes with his family and family friends. And from the flurry of Italian phrases and conversation, one quote of his father's stuck with him most: "If you can't make it fresh, don't serve it!"
Several decades later, Anthony has hand-tossed his own Italian restaurant franchise and, true to his father's words, employs fresh ingredients in the same family recipes that were passed down to him. Amid exposed brick and walls the warm hue of marinara, skilled chefs craft New York–style brick-oven pizzas with toppings such as spinach, sundried tomatoes, and capers. Servers stand ready to answer questions about the restaurant’s wine lists, letting guests know which wines pair best with the Pizzotto sandwich or whether pinot noir can really turn dogs invisible.
DoubleDave's Pizzaworks crafts a crusty assortment of hearty, hand-tossed pizzas, Peproni rolls, stromboli, and more. Choose a pie from DoubleDave's selection of specialty pizzas ($19.99 for an 18", $15.99 for a 15", and $12.99 for a 12”) such as the buffalo-chicken pizza, which outfits its surface area in mozzarella, chicken strips, wing sauce, and ranch dressing. The duplicitous Dave's Fave offers carnivore-coaxing meatball and sausage or veggie-baiting tomato, garlic, and spinach on an olive oil, garlic, and oregano base. Do-it-yourselfers design their own pies ($10.99 for a 15", plus $1.59 per topping) with a customized blueprint of size, toppings, and type of crust. DoubleDave's chefs offer repose from a barrage of traditional pies with Peproni rolls ($7.99 for six), featuring pepperoni and cheese stuffed into claustrophobic, doughy confines. Or escape the boot-shaped grip of the Mediterranean with a philly cheesesteak stromboli ($10.99 for large, $5.99 for small).
Owner Peter Giovanniello crafts his secret sauce with tomatoes culled from the same grower used by his Naples-born father, who perfected the recipe more than forty years ago. A variety of New York–style pies populate the menu, including the all-meat pizza ($12 for a medium), which serves as an arena upon which pepperoni, sausage, ham, beef, and bacon battle for flavor supremacy. Fix a modest hankering by selecting pizza by the slice ($1.85 for cheese, $2.08 for pepperoni) or a small 9-inch cheese pizza ($5; $0.50 for extra toppings), which can also double as an edible frisbee. For eats of the non-pie variety, customers can plunge their fangs into the restaurant's selection of calzones ($5+), strombolis ($5+), and wings ($6–$7).
Inside Original Napoli Italian Restaurant by Papa Zack's bustling kitchen, a team of talented chefs craft house-made pasta before dousing noodles in meat, marinara, alfredo, and clam sauces. This kitchen architects the eatery's "what," but the staff's "how" involves constant, family-friendly friendliness. The culinary experts give chicken the royal treatment, dressing it up in a variety of dishes, including marsala, piccata, parmigiana, and rollatini. Sandwiches and pizza in two crusts round out the Italian-centric menu. The catering leg of the business feeds multicourse meals for at least 10 people or 5 people saving half their meal for their fallout shelter.
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.
At the heart of every dish on Candelari's menu—including its signature thin- ($17–$22), thick- ($18–$23), and deep-dish-style ($19–$24) pizzas—are the famous Italian-sausage recipes of Alberto Candelari, all of which are made with choice meat, natural spices, and hints of liqueur. The T-Rex's spread of pepperoni, ground sirloin, useless forearms, Canadian bacon, and Candelari’s andouille and original Italian sausages lets you sample all of the finest meat-fruits of Candelari Sausage Company founders Greg Wheeler and “King of Sausages” Michael May (Alberto’s grandson). Build up to its bounty beforehand with a plate of sausage misto ($7), which features grilled Italian, turkey-jalapeño, and chicken-apple sausages piled atop provolone polenta. Diners that look suspiciously like flocks of seagulls inside a trench coat can find out what a grilled salmon ($14) tastes like when complemented by gulf shrimp, lemon-caper butter sauce, and veggies. Otherwise, avoid all the menu botheration and opt for the daily lunch buffet ($9–$9.50), which includes unlimited pizza, pasta, salad, and a drink.