Owners Bruno and Jimmy fill Mamma Lucia’s kitchen with housemade Italian family recipes. At each of the eight locations, chefs mix and match myriad pastas and sauces such as penne in pink sauce or chicken pesto ravioli in a creamy pesto sauce. Chicken and veal can be dipped in egg and sautéed in a lemon-and-wine sauce or prepared in any of 15 other ways. In the dining room, servers happily deliver New York–style pizzas to tables or to passing taxicabs full of lost Brooklyn residents.
White linen tablecloths dot the cozy dining room at Enza’s Italian Restaurant in Jacksonville’s Southside neighborhood, while the noisier bar section behind the wall features booths, a large black glossy table and ample bar seating. The gleaming Italian tile, deep burgundy wall treatments and granite bar make this Italian joint a place that feels like coming home to The Beautiful Country. Open since 2004, the menu sports a host of classics like chicken parmesan and veal picatta while offering a pleasing hybrid of inventive dishes like seafood lasagna and fried ravioli. A host of appetizers, salads and desserts are standard fare, the ample entrées arrive on gleaming white platters and a warmed bread basket magically keeps reappearing tableside. Don’t leave without trying the tiramisu.
pizzas, soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as made-to-order burgers and original appetizers, like the hummus or spinach artichoke dip, served with toasted pita chips. Loaded cheese fries are, of course, a must-try, and truly showcase the fun, relaxed atmosphere found inside. The large grill sports a diner feel, and houses plentiful booths, warm hanging lantern lights and an overall homey family vibe. Large animals hanging in bold colors pop against the soft taupe walls, while flatscreen TVs flicker with sports or the latest news. A cubby of arcade games makes Red Elephant Pizza and Grill a true family neighborhood eatery that’s easy to return to again and again.
Orhan Celeno doesn’t need fancy HD televisions or designer décor to run a successful pizzeria. His talents rest upon the thin, crispy crusts of New York–style pizzas, which he tosses by hand at Vino’s Pizza Grill House. Homemade marinara simmers in his kitchen’s pots before dressing pizza dough and Italian pasta dishes such as manicotti and baked ziti. Add-ons such as pepperoni, pineapple, or fresh tomatoes customize pies, and the kitchen also crafts old-world desserts, filling cannoli shells with sweetened cheese and smothering zeppolis with chocolate and powdered sugar.
The Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake on Atlantic Blvd is a build-your-own pizza joint, where intrepid eaters can combine toppings at will, before finishing off the pies at home. The popular franchise concept provides fresh handmade pizza dough, creamy mozzarella, sliced vegetables and butcher-quality meat toppings, allowing you to create your own dinnertime masterpiece. Inside, the small shop is festive and bright, with yellow counters, red walls, warm wood floors and a gleaming glass counter. The menu includes a variety of classic and inventive pizzas for anyone feeling uninspired: regular cheese, Hawaiian, a low-fat chicken bacon artichoke delight and a few stuffed pizza selections. This is carry-out pizza at its most unique, and a fresh way to grab a do-it-yourself pie.
Carmine’s Pie House in the Riverside section of Jacksonville is an Italian eatery with a host of calzones, Stromboli’s, salads, pizzas and other assorted Italian dishes. An extensive menu of quirkily named pies includes Da Bomb, offered as crispy diced chicken and onions with crumbled blue cheese, mozzarella and hot sauce, or the Bad Ass BLT, which lands applewood smoked bacon, mozzarella and ranch dressing atop a pizza. There’s also the traditional lasagna, baked ziti and lobster ravioli to choose from, while snatching a seat at one of Carmine’s oversized oak booths. Funky wall décor, colorful art and metal hanging lanterns round out the eclectic and jazzy feel, making the space feel like a relaxed trattoria, rather than an upscale Italian experience.