In 1909, Frank Pepe immigrated to the United States from his native town of Maiori, Italy. He was poor, illiterate, and just 16 years old—but he had a strong work ethic. After a stint in a New Haven factory and service as an Italian solider in World War I, he settled down for good in New Haven with his wife, Filomena, and started a bakery delivery service. But because he couldn’t read, he had trouble deciphering the orders. So he started having his customers come to him, and in 1925, he and Filomena added a simple item to the menu: Neapolitan-style pizzas.
To this day, the staff still heats up coal-fired ovens to bake the original tomato pies that Frank and Filomena first made famous. They can also add toppings such as bacon, Italian-imported anchovies, and house-roasted red peppers to their pizzas, or create specialty pies such as their signature white clam with olive oil, fresh garlic, and oregano. Diners can pair their pies with Pepe’s salad, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette, or have the server tap draft brews such as Sam Adams Boston Lager and Peroni. They’ve served Foxon Park soda since 1925, so diners can request bottles of cream soda or diet white-birch beer made from only the sveltest birch trees.
The menu at Frankie & Fanucci's Wood Oven Pizzeria is dominated by the offerings from the authentic 800-degree wood-burning oven, which chars the tasty toppings melting against thin crust dough and crispy panini rolls. The simple margherita pizza consists of fresh mozzarella from Brooklyn, imported italian plum tomatoes, and fresh basil (16", $16.95). Personal pizzas measuring 10 inches entice eaters with a smaller-sized saucer, a whole-wheat crust option, and more table room to build napkin skyscrapers reinforced with forks ($9.95-$12.95). The wood oven also blisters hot-pressed chicken provolone panini and its mix of provolone cheese, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and sweet roasted-garlic dressing ($8.95). Opposing cool textures of the pear and gorgonzola salad allot a small forest of mixed greens topped with roasted walnuts and pear dressing to prepizza palettes ($8.50). Pasta, available at the Mamaroneck location, teams with the scratch-made Grandma's Sunday Sauce to create flavor-saturated entrees such as cheese ravioli ($13.95). The Hartsdale Village location, mentioned in a New York Times article, imparts passionate discussions of sweets through the nutella pizzetta, where the delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread smoothes over pizza crust before being struck with a vanilla ice-cream meteor ($7.50).
From within the coal-fired oven at Dino's Cucina, a menu of gooey pizzas, seafood dishes, and Italian favorites emerges to sate sauce-seeking appetites. Diners select from Dino’s three specialty pies or perform pizza alchemy, combining such high-quality ingredients as italian sausage, kalamata olives, and prosciutto to create a custom dish or edible portrait of William Henry Harrison. House specialties tackle hunger pangs with an assortment of chicken, seafood, and eggplant entrees, and wrangle noodle noshers with traditional and whole-wheat pastas. Between bites, patrons sip beverages from Dino’s full bar, check scores on flat-screen TVs, and tune out from workday hassles—such as deadlines and overly affectionate office supplies—with live entertainment every weekend.
The secret that has brought the Centrella family its restaurant success is an easy one to remember: keep things simple. In 1958, Vincenzo and Barbara Centrella left Naples for New York and opened Presto's as a way to introduce their community to the fresh, simple, stripped-down cooking style of their Italian ancestors. Today, the couple's son John and his childhood friends carry out the family mission and welcome patrons to Presto's with a menu heavily populated by the eatery's two namesakes—including a baked-ziti pizza, which marries the two dishes in a state-sanctioned ceremony involving a flaky pie, saucy penne, and two kinds of cheese.
Since 1977, Park Pizza's kitchen staff has been crafting traditional and gourmet pizzas, which headline a menu of casual Italian cuisine. They arrange toppings on gourmet pizzas in clever combinations, such as the mélange of ziti, ricotta, and mozzarella on the baked-ziti pizza, or the salad pizza with lettuce, carrots, and olives. The Uncle Chuck hero sandwich features barbecue sauce, grilled chicken, mozzarella, french fries, lettuce, and tomatoes—which only leaves out one major food group: chocolate. These pizzas and sandwiches as well as pasta dishes and Italian entrees incorporate all-natural and preservative-free Grande cheese.