The cook looks at the order. Another classico brick-oven pizza. This one with extra cheese. He instinctually ladles plum-tomato sauce onto the dough and spreads it out evenly. He sprinkles basil and mozzarella—and then another gob of mozzarella—before sliding the whole concoction into the oven’s intense heat.
The team at Carlo’s Pizzeria & Restaurant has been perfecting this method of pizza making since 1966, when pizza making finally became legal. But brick-oven-baked pies populate only one page of the menu. The other two pages catalog a surfeit of hero sandwiches, stromboli, pasta dishes, and meaty Italian entrees such as chicken cacciatore and veal parmigiana.
At Saverio's Stone Fire Bistro, Chef Nicola Bertolotti decks out Northern Italian cuisine and pizzas with ingredients such as filet mignon, prosciutto, goat cheese, and truffles. He and his staff hand stretch rounds of dough atop a marble counter before covering them with sauce and toppings and thrusting them into the depths of a mammoth, tiled hearth oven, where high, even heat bakes them to a delectable crunch. Pizza combinations include options such as a quartet of cheeses—mozzarella, gorgonzola, fontina, and ricotta—or mozzarella, truffle cream, ham, and truffle oil. The oven also produces pastas coated in black-truffle or vodka sauces, arriving alongside paninis and salads that cut all the richness with lemony dressings.
A burbling waterfall covered in plants and pebbles stands sentry in front of Saverio’s fieldstone façade. Inside, slatted wooden furniture, checkerboard linens, big umbrellas, and candles clustered with small wicker baskets evoke a picnic atmosphere even when the waterfall’s iced over. If diners look up, they’ll see something even more surprising: high above their heads stretches a cross section of an Italian alleyway, complete with a trompe l’oeil streetscape mural, flower boxes, roof tiles, and clotheslines strung between two “buildings” like pasta noodles in the mouths of two young Venetians in love.
A new arrival from Torella Di Lombardi, Italy, Ludovico Barbati first began hawking his homemade spumoni and ices from a horse-drawn wagon that he drove up and down the streets of Brooklyn. His deserts were so revered that he decided to set up permanent shop. Tapping laborers he knew from his native land, Ludovico built the first of three buildings that would become Spumoni Gardens, a family venture that eventually saw Ludovico expanding his menu to include thick, Sicilian-style pizzas that made a perfect accompaniment to his famous icy treats. Featured on Man v. Food and highlighted in the Village Voice’s list of the Best Foodie Adventures, Spumoni Gardens’ pizzas have become local lore for their crispy, square-cut crusts. The crusts owe their crispness to an unconventional layering technique: chefs lay down fresh slices of mozzarella before the sauce, creating a creamy, melted barrier that prevents the base from getting soggy. The iconic Brooklyn eatery also dishes out stuffed heroes, hearty pasta platters, and Italian entrees, and can even turn its signature spumoni into a cake to mark special occasions such as birthdays or recurring Thursdays.
La Villa’s First location opened in Howard Beach Queens and is still operated by its founding family, whose Neapolitan-born mother Maurina rises early to prep culinary goodness in its kitchen. The Neapolitan-born mother of the restaurant's current owner is known to make sure her pomodoro sauce has the right amount of olive oil and even hop behind the line to help sauté during the dinner rushes. This love of food runs throughout the Maurina's family, who opened the family's first restaurant back in, 1955 not far from where their Park Slope location currently stands.
The Zagat-rated restaurant has thrived since opening in 1982, enough to expand to three locations. Inside their kitchens, chefs stoke wood-burning ovens to bake more than 16 varieties of pizzas, including Neapolitan- and Sicilian-style pies dressed with whole-milk mozzarella and a specialty San Marzano tomato-and-basil sauce. Each location has a spacious dining room where patrons can split appetizers of housemade meatballs and dig into plates of sautéed Nature veal marsala.
In 2007 the best pizza makers from Italy, France, China, and the United States vied for the coveted title of America's Plate champion. To judge the competition and test for pepperoni-enhancing substances, America's Plate rallied an expert team of culinary artisans, including a chef instructor from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, the former champion from Spain, and Phil & Sons Pizzeria & Restaurant’s own Salvo D’Aguanno. Salvo is no stranger to Italian food; having spent the last 40 years amid the hustle of his father Phil's restaurant, Salvo has honed the art of turning crispy crusts and perfectly portioned toppings into gourmet pies, such as the margherita, the Hawaiian, and the lasagna pie with ground beef and ricotta. Phil and Salvo also do justice to traditional Italian recipes with veal and chicken marsala, sauce-slathered gnocchi, and fresh frutta di mare.
At Goodfella's Brick Oven Pizza, chefs treat pie making like it's an intricate art. They start with hand-tossed semolina dough, slather it with housemade sauce, and toss on heaps of fresh mozzarella before wood firing it in a brick oven. The diverse toppings include lemon garlic chicken, vodka sauce, and sauteed calamari. Since the pizzeria opened a century ago, their style has garnered attention from Fox News, CBS, and Regis Philbin.
The award-winning pizza takes center stage, but the menu also features such traditional Italian entrees as mussels marinara, homemade lasagna, and veal milanese. Lighter options include philly cheesesteak heroes and grilled veggie wraps. Goodfella's has four locations throughout New York and New Jersey, and also offers catering for special events, such as weddings, graduations, or the birth of your pet rock.