In the mines of northeastern Pennsylvania, workers heave loads of clean-burning anthracite coal and ship them to businesses such as Coal Fire, where chefs scoop the same coal into their 900-degree ovens to bake pizzas and wings. Before baking the pies, the chefs hand-toss the aged dough, then cover it with their signature sauce and thick, house-made mozzarella cheese, as well as toppings such as sun-dried tomatoes and pepperoni procured from local merchants. Outside the kitchen, hardwood floors run past the warm, exposed brick of the ovens while servers slide across the polished floorboards, delivering platters of steaming pizzas and frosty drinks from the full bar.
Eddie and Enrico, proprietors of Ciao Pizzeria, invite customers to sink their teeth into their Italian-inspired food. New york–style pizzas can be ordered by the slice and topped with standard pepperoni and mushrooms. Pies also feature unique toppings such as taco seasoning and salsa, or buffalo chicken and blue cheese. Customers can sate themselves with hot and cold subs, as well as housemade Italian entrees such as fettuccine alfredo and eggplant parmesan.
Yesterday’s dough doesn’t make the cut at Villa Roma Pizza. As they have since 1965, the staff at this eatery make dough for their pizzas and rolls fresh daily. They complement these Italian staples with a lengthy menu of favorites, such as lasagna, stromboli, meatball subs, and veal parmesan.
Carley's Ristorante and Piano Bar quells burning appetites for elegant flavors and family-style eating with an expansive dinner menu of shareables. Anchor incisors into The Meatball, a 12-ounce specialty studded with provolone cheese and three saucy dipping pools ($9.50), or prepare taste buds for scrumptious entrees with a variety of leafy delights, including the tuscan tossed salad with candied walnuts, goat cheese, and dried figs ($8.50+). Grain-grinding molars can chomp on mascarpone lasagna bolognese, built like an earthquake-ready skyscraper with secure layers of mozzarella, ricotta, and provolone cheeses ($13.50+). While soothing tongues with hugs of sophisticated flavors, enjoy live piano performances, including new-artist spotlights, open-mic nights, and group sing-along sessions of classic Beethoven sonatas.
Featuring classic Italian recipes prepared by experienced chef Michael Giraldi, Juliana's Italian Restaurant boasts an ever-changing menu with creative Tuscan influences. Pastas such as lobster ravioli, squid ink pasta stuffed with lobster and ricotta smothered in a slightly creamed tomato sauce ($17.50), or penne al vodka, penne pasta comingled with pancetta and a vodka cream sauce ($14), serve as elegant twirling grounds for forks and mermaid hair combs. Knives can slice into entrée items including the veal saltimboca, sautéed veal dressed with mozzarella, fresh sage, and prosciutto in a white-wine sauce ($21), 8 oz filet mignon ($23.50), or crab cakes, two jumbo lumps of crustacean goodness lightly breaded and pan fried ($20.50). Reversitarians can continue eating against the grain by ending meals with scrumptious appetizers such as fried calamari served with marinara and banana peppers ($7) and mussels sautéed in olive oil, garlic, spices and slathered in red or white sauce ($7).
Inside the ovens at Crazy Tomato, pizza crusts bubble up around an adventurous selection of toppings, including chopped steak, fries, roast beef, and feta cheese. Cheese-stuffed stromboli issue jets of steam across the pies and toasting sandwiches, which cooks scoop up to pack with dine-in, takeout, and delivery orders. Against the applause-like sound of crackling oil, fryers spill forth 1-pound servings of fries made exclusively from freshly cut potatoes shaped like Renaissance-era kings.
The friendly crew at The Wild Tomato Pizzeria slings flavorful pizzas, sandwiches, and salads made with natural ingredients, including vegetables grown in-house and whole-wheat dough. Cheesy disks come in specialty neopolitan and Chicago deep-dish form, from the Roma, with provolone, romano, and oregano ($8–$13.50), to the fungal disco favorite, Mushroom-O-Rama ($10–$16.50). Discover wonders of the oven in the fryer-free kitchen with crispy baked chicken wings ($8 for 12) or provolone- and marinara-topped baked meatballs ($5), before sampling sandwiches such as the vegetable, mozzarella, homemade pesto, and carnivore-pranking Veggie Weggie (half, $5.50; whole, $7.50). Wheat-allergy allies reside in the marinated chicken over gluten-free penne ($10), and the gluten-free crusted Spicy Amber pizza, covered in italian sausage and—like the Mona Lisa—painted with spicy red-pepper oil ($13).