When childhood pals Michael Caringella and Armand Christopher bought Elmwood Park's Victory Tap in 1956, one of their first orders of business was determining the name of their new establishment. Michael won the deciding coin toss, but to dodge any complaints that might arise, slyly chose to dub their eatery Armand’s Victory Tap, after his coin-toss-losing partner. With Armand’s original artwork gracing the walls and Michael’s thin-crust pizza flying from the oven, the restaurant received positive reviews; and although Armand sold his portion to Mike in the 1960s, the eatery—since renamed Armand's Pizzeria—still thrives today.
City-dwellers and suburbanites alike can taste a slice of the original thin-crust pie at any of Armand's 10 locations. Though menus differ slightly at each eatery, all contain thin- or pan-crust pizzas crowned with an array of fresh toppings, ranging from ham, bacon, and pineapple to feta and kalamata olives to italian beef and spicy giardiniera. Beyond pizza, the chefs pull mozzarella mostaccioli from the oven, glaze baby back ribs with tangy barbecue sauce, and assemble hearty sandwiches from italian beef and italian sausage, the same materials that used to line the deli counter at the Roman coliseum.
The Lollino family has a long tradition of talented Italian coffee roasters and chefs, fortified by a passion that spans generations. It inspired them to open Massa Italian Cafe & Gelateria using the cooking methods and recipes that had been passed on in their family for years. Spanning the culinary history of Italy, the menu boasts grilled paninis, hearty pasta dishes, and 11" thin crust pizzas with a wide variety of toppings. The centerpiece of the eatery's menu is its espresso bar, with steaming cups of pure espresso or blends such as the caramelccino, cookies-n-cream, and a cup of coffee with a shot of espresso inside. Every morning, the staff makes more than 30 flavors of Gelato onsite, from vanilla and pistachio to spumoni and melon sorbet, and they've spent hours mixing and matching flavors to make specialty treats such as the domenica - two scoops of gelato topped with whipped cream, nuts, and an Italian wafer cookie.
Plenty has changed at Jim & Pete's since the family-owned eatery’s opening in 1941, but one thing has remained constant: the recipes. Along with a few updates and one robot line cook, chefs still depend on those time-tested formulas to craft an array of signature chicken dishes, risotto specials, and fish entrees. The restaurant also offers 20 types of pasta and 13 special sauces, including besciamella and string bean. Those combinations can be customized, as can unions between five kinds of pizza crust and 20 toppings such as sausage, anchovies, and red peppers.
Imported and domestic bottles of sparkling, white, or red wine complement meals, which unfold in a brick-walled dining room decorated with wine racks. In addition to dine-in feasts, Jim & Pete's cuisine is available for carry-out, catering, and banquets.
An elegant, warmly lit dining destination, La Bella brings old-world Italian flavors into tender meats, seafood, grains, and waft-worthy liquids. The dinner menu starts with starters such as classic bruschetta ($5.95) and adventurous grilled octopus ($11.95), then sets the moon on fire with main plates including New Zealand green-lip mussels laid on a bed of linguine with red or white sauce ($17.95) and pork chops oreganato, sautéed in a lemony, buttery, oreganoey blend and served with a stoplight's worth of peppers and vesuvio potatoes ($19.95). Pair any plate with a selection off La Bella's extensive wine list ($5.75–$10 per glass, $22–$45 per bottle), and save a few notches in the belt for authentic Italian desserts, including sweet, sweet spumone ($4), tiramisu ($6.95), and lava cake ($6.95), which contains no magma or tiki torches, but is served on a stable tectonic plate.
Though Dino’s is a pizzeria at heart, they also pride themselves in their fresh-cut fries. And just as with the pizzas, customers can deck out the fries with an array of toppings—buffalo sauce and jalapenos ignite the Spice of Life fries, and the Hungry Man fries get bulked up with ground beef, cheese, sour cream, and flannel napkins. They pair nicely with the restaurant’s half-pound Angus burgers, as well as the fresh wings. Of course, much of the menu is devoted to pizza, and diners can build their own or order a specialty pie, such as the gyros with meat, onion, tomato, feta, and gyro sauce.