The “giant slices” at Pizzaiolo's Pizza & Pasta are not named lightly—they’re so big, they require two plates to hoist their cheesy mass. This emphasis on quantity extends to the eatery’s New York-style pies, which range from 16 to 30 inches in size. Sprinkled with toppings such as chicken and jalapenos, the pizzas are tailored to each order, satisfying the needs of vegetarians, carnivores, and elusive omnivores alike. Calzones, meatball subs, and daily pasta specials round out Pizzaiolo’s smorgasbord of Italian staples.
At Napoli’s Pizza & Fresh Pasta, dough maestros fashion pizza crusts from imported caputo flour, slather them with fresh basil and mozzarella, and toss them into wood-fired brick ovens to cultivate a bubbly golden sheen. Chefs ladle homemade basciamella meat sauces across fresh linguine and lure steak knives away from defenseless spoons with eight succulent veal dishes.
Drawing on his former role as chef and owner of Italian Villa, owner Salvatore Cucci leads La Gondola's kitchen as cooks prepare house-made sausage, steaming plates of pasta, and fresh seafood. Traces of basil and roasted bell peppers fill the air as chefs sauté shrimp in a lemon, white-wine, and garlic sauce, then add it to plates of unadorned linguine as artfully as an painter glues warm shrimp to a freshly painted landscape. In the dining area, servers deliver filet mignon and prepare caesar salads tableside as patrons sip glasses of wine from an extensive list of chiantis, cabernets, and pinot grigios hailing from Italy, California, and Australia.
To reach their table at Spaghetti Warehouse, guests commonly have to step through two doors: the front door of the restaurant and the door of the antique trolley parked inside. Since its inception in 1972, the Italian eatery has merged the functions of kitchen and museum. Artifacts such as grandfather clocks, factory flywheels, and circus billboards surround diners as they delve into signature plates of 15-Layer Lasagna or hand-rolled meatballs. Apart from the items they've amassed, each of the buildings also has a particular history, from the one-time ice-manufacturing plant in Columbus to Memphis's Civil War munitions depot. Given their storied pasts, it's no surprise that several of these venues house their own ghosts—at Houston's warehouse, for example, elevator lights have been known to flicker, objects are mysteriously found in new locations, and a lady in a white gown is said to roam the restaurant.
Yet the main attraction of the place is the delicious food. Like any great Italian meal, made-from-scratch dishes are created from family recipes passed down for generations via email. Guests devour the perfectly al dente pasta, crispy calamari, bottomless soups, and 12-layer chocolate cakes while dining with family and friends. It’s that feeling of togetherness that people love about Spaghetti Warehouse, a feeling that is only enhanced when the drinks start flowing and the air is punctuated by the sounds of laughter as kids play retro games, such as The Claw prize-grabbing machine.