Since opening its doors in 2002, the family-owned, Neapolitan La Piazzetta has slaked cravings for traditional, northern and southern Italian cuisine with artfully plated appetizers, entrees, and pastries. Applying skills acquired while working at New York’s Rainbow Room, Executive Chef Francesco Cuozzo combines fresh ingredients to craft house-made potato gnocchi and veal sautéed with shiitake mushrooms. To pair with savory items, co-owner Mario Fortunato extends the success of his Fortunato Brothers Café & Pasticceria, alongside son Carlo, by introducing fine dining palates to specialty sweets such as cannoli Siciliano. All delectable courses transpire inside the charming, low-lit dining room.
Italian and French culinary influences dance a savory pas de deux atop red-checkered tablecloths in Nice Pizza’s warmly lit space. Chefs adorn specialty pizzas with embellishments such as caramelized onions, prosciutto, and eggplant before waiters ferry dough disks to tables or zip them to diners’ doors on the back of a motorized scooter. Casual French dishes such as salade niçoise and croque-monsieur leave hungry patrons as sated as a mime who’s just eaten a dozen invisible croissants.
Chef and Brooklyn native Scott Natale learned to cook alongside his father and grandmother, eventually honing his craft by taking a 15-year culinary sojourn throughout Europe and the Caribbean and working at such New York establishments as China Grill and Chadwick's. The menu of contemporary and rustic Italian fare invites diners to begin their meal with such starters as semolina-crusted calamari or a verdant salad of mixed greens, which arrives laden with roasted beets, walnuts, goat cheese, and citrus vinaigrette. Chef Natale loads the oxtail lasagna's house-made pasta with savory strata of braised oxtail, ricotta, and béchamel sauce, and the pizza rustica can brim with such ingredients as figs, goat cheese, and thin slices of prosciutto. Helping to end meals less abruptly than a fire drill, wedges of moist date cake smear taste buds with saccharine toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Specialty pies fill the menu at Rocco's Pizzeria & Restaurant, and homemade crusts weigh heavy with dozens of savory toppings. Popular pies include a fresh mozzarella and tomatoes disk perched atop 18 inches of signature marinara sauce, as well as a vodka sauce pie slathered in marinara's zesty proxy. Between nibbles of buffalo chicken or taco pies, 2-liter soda bottles provide effervescing refreshment and a medium with which to demonstrate how tornadoes work.