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.
Stocked with Italian cuisine since 1960, John the Baker's menu harbors multiple generations of original recipes. Atop doughy platforms crafted with no preservatives, pizza toppings clash to compose delectable moshes such as the Florentine ($14.95 for a medium), which fuses spinach with ricotta cheese and fresh tomatoes. Turkey and cranberry wraps ($7.95) envelop offbeat ingredients, and maritime munchies melt like water thanks to the freshly simmered shrimp and light linguini or rice in the shrimp scampi ($16.95). Other refined flavors include classics such as the New York strip steak ($21.95) and the charcoal broiled hamburger ($8.95).
For more than 50 years, Atlantic Pizza’s chefs have painted pastas and pie crusts red with rich marinara and meat sauce. Pizzas can be made atop classic or whole-wheat dough and then further customized with selections from more than 30 toppings. Nineteen specialty pies relieve tough decision making, combining ingredients such as baby clams, garlic, bacon, and peppers (the Clams Casino). The chefs also put special spins on more than 50 sandwiches. They prepare paninis for the grill by layering on grilled chicken, baby spinach, tomato, and feta—a combo that represents the eatery’s Greek ties—and they ready cheeseburgers for encounters with white carpeting by ladling on chili.
The Pasta & Pizza Factory's aged wood paneling, brick archways, and tinted lamps set the scene for a memorable dining experience. At each table, diners can summon servers for more food or keep them at bay to ensure their stomach has ample time to catch its breath. Pasta comes in a variety of shapes and styles, such as linguini with clam sauce (lunch $11.95, dinner $14.95); rigatoni with sausage, peppers, and peas in pink sauce ($9.95, $12.95); and tortilini de la nona, with chicken and artichoke hearts bathing in a cream sauce ($11.95, $14.95). Pizzas are decorated with traditional toppings, such as the meat lover's pizza covered in pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, and chicken (individual $9.95, medium $12.95, large $16.95), as well as unexpected combinations. The Parisian—baby shrimp, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes—and Portuguese pizza—onions, green peppers, ham, eggs (both $9.95, $12.95, $16.95)—take taste buds on a tour of Europe, and the Brooklyn Gourmet pizza—diced tomato, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil ($8.50, $11.50, $14.50)—avoids subjecting taste buds to a battery of inoculations. Diners can also use their Groupon value towards all-you-can-eat pizza and pasta: lunch $30 value, dinner $40 value.
In 2001, the calzones, burgers, gyros, grinders, and cheesy pies that lived in the entrepreneurial dreams of then-college sophomore Mark Kalmanidis escaped and joined forces to create Crossroads Pizza. Inside the eatery, customers can send their tongue shopping for spaghetti and meatballs ($8.50) and their teeth can busily munch fried chicken served with french fries and cole slaw ($10.50). Or, choose to chew into one of the menu's more than 15 specialty pizzas—taste a small white pizza's doughy disc of ricotta, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and oregano ($9), visit a medium Hawaiian's ham-pineapple fusion ($12.99), or let a small vegetarian pizza refill your food pouch with an assortment of delicious nonmeats ($9.99).
Letizia's Pizza collects a multifaceted menu of traditional Italian dishes using family recipes perfected by three generations of pizzaioli polishing. Demanding diners customize their thin-crust pies ($7+) with traditional and unique toppings such as spinach, pepperoni, and clams arranged to resemble Leonardo da Vinci's secret back tattoo ($1.25–$2.75 each). Aloof eaters enjoy pre-topped specialty pies such as the 10-inch Garbage pizza, a savory circle littered with meatballs, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and anchovies ($13), while gobbling gamblers place bets on the 12-inch Casino pizza, clams, garlic, onions, peppers, and bacon blanketed with red or white sauce ($16.50). Pizzas with a gluten-free crust are available by request for diners on a break from grains after catching wheat making out with their cousin (12", $14.75). Patrons in the mood for other Italian classics shift their sights towards Letizia's pasta and sandwich options, which include eggplant parmesan grinders ($7), baked ziti ($9.25), and other comforting fare.