Though Hamid Parivash has progressively moved farther and farther away from his native Italy, he refuses to stray from the country’s iconic culinary traditions. In 1987, he opened his first Italian restaurant in Austria with his mother and father before eventually moving the eatery to Spain for four years. He then ventured out even further, jumping the Atlantic Ocean to found a new Don Camillo in Texas. Even with this westward momentum, the menu remains firmly grounded in Old World flavors—fresh buffalo mozzarella, hand-rolled manicotti, and homemade meat and pesto sauces remain staple ingredients on the menu. Chef Parivash even still relies on an old-fashioned wood-burning oven to roast hearty entrees and bake pizzas laden with everything from grilled chicken and red onions to diced pancetta and garlic.
The restaurant’s open kitchen allows diners full-on glimpses of the cooks as they use this brick-encased oven to bake meals to order. With its neutral-toned walls, chandelier-like lighting fixtures, and assorted pieces of artwork, the dining room embraces a classical, understated aesthetic. Leafy green potted plants sit atop the room’s half walls of exposed brickwork, adding a verdant splash of color and replenishing the restaurant’s oxygen supply on a weekly basis.
The pizza makers at Palio's Cafe crown regular, whole-wheat, and gluten-free crusts with fresh vegetables, preservative-free sauce, and roasted chicken. Chefs take the burden of putting together the best toppings with 17 specialty pizzas that pair gourmet ingredients such as artichoke hearts, roasted chicken, and fresh basil pesto. Ovens create bubbling pies, stuffed calzones, baked ziti, and italian sub sandwiches that servers carry through both chic, cozy locations. Leather-lined booths and flat-screen televisions keep diners comfortable and entertained while they enjoy Palio's BYOB policy and sip wine or Capri Sun pouches brought from home.
Luigi's Pizza Italian Restaurant's three founding brothers came from Italy to forge a menu of homemade pastas, pizzas, and Old World entrees. Noodle-laden classics such as lasagna ($6.95) and fettuccine alfredo ($7.95) mingle with freshly washed bibs and dinner specialties that include chicken marsala over spaghetti ($8.95) or shrimp scampi caught in a net of linguini ($11.95). The simple Neapolitan-style cheese pizza ($8.95 for large) struggles with topping envy as it admires the fully loaded, four-sided deep dish Sicilian Special pizza with its black olives, green peppers, and meaty morsels bursting forth from under a blanket of melted cheese ($16.95).
The chefs at Italia Cafe make everything on the menu from scratch, including family recipes for Neapolitan-style or deep-dish pizza, pasta, and hot subs. A large Neapolitan cheese pizza ($9.95) sates hearty appetites, and the 16"x16" deep-dish Sicilian Special ($17.95) piles a mountain of meats and veggies onto a square pizza peg that fits comfortably into round pie holes. Diners can open pearly mouth gates for a bite of angel hair pomodoro ($7.95) or look down their noses at the chicken Aristocrat, a chicken breast sautéed with eggplant and mozzarella in a white-wine cream sauce and served with a side of spaghetti ($9.95). Hot philly cheese steak ($7.95) or meatball sub ($5.95) sandwiches keep hands warm, and sweet cannoli ($3.95) ends meal sentences with a decadent exclamation point. The cafe's sleek wood and tile floors rest under plush red and black booths, and Italian-inspired artwork inspires patrons to row invisible gondolas.
Unlimited portions of more than 20 toppings grace the pizzas of The Crooked Crust, which diners can order as whole, half, or one-fourth pies. Nine specialty pizzas, such as the pesto-and-artichoke-covered Mean Green or the Hawaiian-themed Lu-Wow!, arrive at tables in Denton or Campus Corner locations after baking in ovens fired with outdated geology textbooks. In addition to accommodating guests in its dining quarters, Crooked Crust delivers for an additional $2 fee.