Owner Jeff Cohen can still be found manning The Pizza Loft’s line more than 30 years after its inception, dishing up a menu of made-to-order Italian cuisine in an ultramodern kitchen wholly devoid of deep fryers and microwaves. Crafted by hand and topped with a robust homemade tomato sauce, the Loft’s piping panoply of pizzas is doughy shores bedecked with 100% real dairy mozzarella, fresh veggies, and hearty servings of sliced meatballs, ham, and sausage ($10.95+). Diners can scale the lasagna’s precarious layers, fixing pickaxes into its meat-packed peaks while scooping up the aromatic avalanche of a rich mushroom sauce ($11.95+). Plates of eggplant parmigiana, like Italy's organically grown supermodels, tastefully swathe themselves in stylish shrouds of spaghetti noodles ($13.95), and penne pasta dishes come sautéed-to-order in fragrant lochs of garlic butter or alfredo sauce ($9.95+).
Hungry Howie’s grew into a nation-spanning franchise from a humble start in Taylor, Michigan in 1973, when founder Jim Hearn converted a hamburger stand into a pizzeria. With the help of business partner Steve Jackson––who started as a delivery man at the original location––the two men franchised a decade later and began expanding their delicious operation, resulting in nearly 600 locations spread across 24 states in the 3rd dimension alone. Almost 40 years after its start, Hungry Howie’s continues to earn the most attention for its specialty flavored crust pizzas––which infuse dough with a choice of eight seasonings such as ranch or garlic herb––as well as zesty pizza accompaniments such as oven-baked meatball and chicken parm subs.
Chef Aldo Marcon grew up in Saronno, Italy, where he developed a passion for food in his grandmother's kitchen. He went on to attend culinary school in Milan, and after that, he worked at the well-known Cafe Fiorello in Manhattan. He eventually moved to New Orleans, where he cooked alongside such famed chefs as Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali.
In 2008, chef Marcon moved once again, this time to Miami to work in some of the area's renowned Italian joints, including Quattro, and see if sharks like carpaccio as much as people. Now he is running his own eatery?Cinque Terre Restaurant.
Here, he delights diners with both Italian and Mediterranean favorites, including dishes such as Mediterranean mussels, served in a white wine garlic sauce with a touch of fresh tomato, and mele and gorgonzola, a salad of baby spinach, sweet gorgonzola cheese, sliced green apples, and lemon-olive oil dressing. For main fare, diners can choose from the likes of Mahi-mahi with shrimp, summer vegetables, roasted potatoes, and a lemon-caper sauce, or a succulent skirt steak served with roasted baby potatoes, summer vegetables, and cabernet sauvignon sauce.
Although best known for its hand-tossed pizzas made from dough baked fresh daily, Esposito's Pizza complements its marinara-doused mandalas with a delectable array of Italianate appetizers and entrees. The Four Seasons pizza (14", $17.49) arranges a baroque quartet of artichoke, mushrooms, ham, and onion atop a stage of cheese, and the meat-combo pizza (14", $17.49) packs in enough animal flesh to legally be considered livestock. Otherwise, put an artist's signature on your own pizza ($8+) by pairing pepperoni, spinach, and mushrooms with more adventurous flavors such as pineapple, jalapeños, and moon rock. Esposito's accommodates boot-shaped appetites as well as circular ones with the Taste of Italy's tour of chicken-cutlet parmigiana, meatballs, and baked ziti ($15.95).
Ever since 1981, owners Joe and Helen Mineo have been serving generous portions of wings and seafood, integrating New York–style pizza seamlessly into their menu years after. Mineo’s tempts taste buds with dishes that range from lightly battered wings and spaghetti with chili to fried scallops and catfish sandwiches. It also dazzles palates with a raw bar, which features clams and oysters that appear raw, steamed, Rockefeller, or casino. No matter what they order, diners marvel at Mineo’s atmosphere of warmth and familiarity, fostered by the three generations of employees on staff and their leader, Debbie Carvalho, who’s been managing the restaurant since the day it opened.
Though born in Sicily, Gianpiero Cangelosi moved throughout Europe, developing his skills as a restaurateur. In 1987, he finally landed by parachute in Pembroke Pines and opened Capriccio's Ristorante with the help of his wife Karen. Their traditional take on Italian cuisine quickly earned them a loyal legion of followers, and eventually the demand was too great to fit into one dinning room. They expanded their space with a second dining room and a lounge where a 6’5” chandelier shimmers above an octagonal granite bar. But as much as its surroundings have changed, the quality and authenticity of the food—which has earned the eatery multiple OpenTable Diner’s Choice awards—has not. The restaurant’s waiters ferry dishes of salmon and pine nuts, rack of lamb, and Black Angus filet mignon to tables of quietly salivating guests. Bites of braised veal shank or calamari pair with a dizzying array of wines from Italy, California, and Chile.
The restaurant’s decor reflects the origins of its cuisine–white Corinthian pillars flank sunny yellow walls marked by brick accents, arches, and ornately framed paintings. Diners lounge in wrought iron chairs as they listen to the standup routines of local violinists and pianists.