At L'Allegria, founders Saverio and Giovanni Allocca seek to transport diners to an al fresco Mediterranean courtyard with their authentic cuisine and decor that evokes a breezy villa. The menu brims with classic italian pastas and succulent veal dishes, made with hormone-free meats. Extensive wine lists complement entrees with dozens of varietals from Italy and California.
Patrons sit upon floral-patterned chairs in the high-ceilinged dining room, amid beige walls and exposed brick. At times, a pianist's melodies reverberate throughout the eatery, relaxing diners and reminding the walls' paintings of a simpler time when they were young, impressionable canvases.
The dough wizards at Papa John's Pizza hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
At his namesake restaurant, Chef Ricci prepares his Italian cuisine from the highest-quality ingredients available using authentic cooking techniques. He packs each handcrafted lunch and dinner dish with flavor, from crabmeat-stuffed portobello mushrooms and homemade cavatelli to any of the chef's special entrees, such as veal florentine or the broccoli rabe tossed with shrimp or sausage by Leonardo da Vinci’s ghost. For hand-held eats, Ricci stacks a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, which pair such meats as genoa salami and prosciutto with the distinct flavors of imported sharp provolone and roasted red peppers.
Bensi co-owner Genci Previzi helms an immense menu of classic Italian cuisine, including hearty homestyle dishes with roots in Calabria, Italy. Entrees, joined by a house salad or cup of comforting housemade soup, range from spaghetti and meatballs to gluten-free grilled chicken in a lemon-garlic marinade served over a veggie medley. The chefs also prepare an array of specials such as pignoli-crusted goat cheese and arugula salad, barolo-braised veal osso buco, pan-seared Chilean sea bass with eggplant caponata, and nutella chocolate pizza with fresh strawberries. The dishes are served in a modern dining atmosphere where minimal table settings and simple dark-wood furniture keep the focus on the vibrant cuisine.
Beyond Tomato Pie of Morristown's French door façade, chefs mix fresh ingredients into a menu of signature pizzas and homemade Italian favorites. For starters, diced chicken and mozzarella cheese sing a duet in lightly fried balls of arborio rice served with marinara, or a chorus of Italian cheeses, meats, peppers, and beans rattle the antipasti platter with trilling operatic arias. To complement the Grandma pie's spread of gooey cheese and tomatoes over a crisp, rectangular crust, the circular tomato pie hosts hearty tomatoes and a selection of toppings ($2 each) such as artichokes, bacon, and sweet peppers. For dessert, rich slices of Nutella pie recall the sweet flavors of Italy's chocolate mountain ranges, and a sextet of zeppoles tops balls of deep-fried dough with spackles of fine powdered sugar.
The Brick Oven of Morristown's dough-spinning doyens handcraft a menu full of crusted creations and authentic Italian eats. Commence chew-infused chats with a bowl of the pasta e fagioli soup ($6.95) before choosing one of the popular brick-oven-baked pizzas, such as the alla mare di mare ($16.95), which combines clams, calamari, and shrimp beneath a canopy of mozzarella and ricotta cheese, or the four-cheese alla jessabella, served on a sauceless crust ($10.95). Diners can also build their own customizable pie (prices vary depending upon ingredients) for a culinary construction more appetizing than a Quaker-made oatmeal cathedral. Or skip sliced fare altogether and tongue-dive into a hearty main course, such as a primo pasta ($11.95+) or the pollo della casa—boneless chicken encrusted with parmesan cheese and sautéed in white-wine sauce ($17.95). To complement meals, guests can bring their own bottle of wine or host a séance to summon the spirit of a vintage chardonnay.