Jazzeria owner Matt Criscuolo Jr. has been hanging out at pizzerias since he was 6 years old. After emigrating from Italy, his father opened a pizzeria where the entire family worked, giving little Matt an up-close look at the business of turning his mom?s recipes into feasts fit for the old country. Inspired both by his family?s livelihood and his passion for jazz, Criscuolo began his own pizzeria, where he now puts his more than 30 years of pizza-slinging experience to work each day.
Inspired both by family recipes and lessons he learns on his yearly trips to Amalfi, Italy, Jazzeria?s dishes derive their flavors from authentic Italian ingredients. Hand-tossed pizza dough transforms into pies including pesto pizza or the pescatore pizza topped with a trio of baby clams, roasted garlic, and bacon. Diners can enjoy dishes named after jazz greats?such as Lady Day?s Bolognese pasta?or grab a calzone to stuff in their pockets for later. In addition to housing tasty bites of the Mediterranean, Jazzeria locations live up to their name with live jazz performances three times a week.
Head chef Paul Desiano remembers Sundays spent in his grandmother's kitchen as a child, helping her to prepare pasta dinners by picking vegetables from the garden and rolling meatballs by hand. Although he went on to study at The Art Institute of New York City and work in New York restaurants, he never forgot the childhood dinners that first kindled his passion for cooking. Now joined in the kitchen by his wife, Ai, Paul oversees Cello's menu, which adds modern, international influences to classic Italian dishes.
Paul and his chefs utilize freshly rolled pastas, savory meatballs, and prosciutto to evoke the flavors of seasonal Italian cuisine, but they also incorporate chorizo, torched red-snapper sashimi, and other ingredients that stray from Mediterranean traditions. In addition to its house-made limoncello, the restaurant also features crisp white wines and robust reds from vineyards on both sides of the equator and at every layer of the Earth's crust. Though the list includes wines from around the world, it emphasizes Italian varietals in particular.
The sauce-slingers at Papa John’s build their pies with fresh-dough crusts that are composed of high-protein flour and filtered water, hand tossed, and baked to a golden brown. Vine-ripened tomato sauce and specialty 100% mozzarella melts over extra large pizzas ($12) to which guests add toppings that range from locally sourced green peppers and onions to bacon and spicy italian sausage ($1 each). Patrons gape upward as a hawaiian-barbecue-chicken flying saucer hovers above the restaurant, beaming up all bacon, onions, grilled chicken, and pineapple within a five-mile radius ($16 for a large). Meanwhile, parmesan and garlic cling to breadsticks ($5.49), and honey-chipotle sauce lathers wings ($6.99/10-piece order). Icing drizzles the Cinnapie dessert ($4.99), whose twining of apple and cinnamon is sweeter than a kitten in sugar-coated footy pajamas.
Founded back in 1977 by the progenitor of Atari and Pong, Chuck E. Cheese’s continues to entertain families with prize arcades, rides, and animatronic musical performances while lining bellies with signature pizza pies. Large pizzas crafted with 100% real cheese and signature sauce shell out 12 slices topped in a choice of meat such as pepperoni or sausage or classic veggies such as green pepper or mushrooms. While chomping on a triangle, guests glue their eyes to the stage for an animatronic variety show featuring Chuck himself as well as vocalist Helen Henny and the string-slapping strums of hound dog Jasper T. Jowls. Refueled kiddies jog into the arcade for ticket-spurting video games and simulator rides as tinier tots climb through Skytubes in the Toddler Zone. After a day of gaming, guests redeem their mounds of tickets at the prize counter for plush animals and retired game tokens featuring our nation's favorite former cartoon presidents.
Tambascio’s culinary artisans craft a hearty Italian menu using fresh seafood, hand-cut steaks, and an inventive approach to Old World cuisine. Visitors can prime palates with traditional starters such as fried calamari ($14.99 for a large) or sample Portuguese-style clams steamed in beer and served with caramelized shallots and chorizo ($11.99). Entrees encompass fruits of the sea freshly plucked from underwater orchards, including pan-seared Atlantic salmon that sports herb crusting and rests atop roasted fennel risotto ($18.95). Turf-derived offerings, meanwhile, include the 16-ounce tuscan T-bone topped with rosemary butter and accompanied by roasted garlic mashed potatoes ($24.95). The mediterranean pizza ($10.95–$17.95) arrives bearing fresh basil, eggplant, kalamata olives, and feta cheese; roasted-tomato-and-goat-cheese ravioli bathes in a lifeguard-supervised pool of savory roasted pepper pink sauce ($16.99).
The Rocco boys' love for pizza started in the Bronx, where they worked at their father’s pizzerias from a young age. Now, brothers Joe, Mike, and Frank are continuing their family's tradition at 10 locations of their own invention—all flaunting the Planet Pizza name tag.
A man can't build such a pizza universe without some serious pies. But inspiration isn't a problem for the Planet Pizza culinary team, who've molded more than 30 toppings into about 25 specialty circles, all available on gluten-free and whole-wheat crusts. In addition to specialty pizzas, the cooks concoct other menu choices such the compo salad with baby field greens, grape tomatoes, candied walnuts, gorgonzola, and dried cranberries or the buffalo chicken wrap loaded with strips of crispy chicken, lettuce, tomato, spicy wing sauce, and chunky blue cheese dressing are more convincing than Pluto as a mature planet.