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.
Tortellini. Strawberries. Chicken marsala. You'd normally find these foods on porcelain dishware, not on top of pizzas. At Pizza Oven Mamma Mia, however, they're essential toppings to some of the eatery's most popular pies. In fact, at their glassed-in display counter, you might even see these unorthodox toppings all mingling on the same tray?a slice of penne-vodka pizza next to a slice with broccoli and onions. The rest of the menu is a bit more traditional (eggplant panini at lunch, veal parmigiana at dinner), but you can always end your meal with another of Mamma Mia's unique slices: Nutella dessert pizza with those aforementioned strawberries. Other favorites include Sicilian rice balls, fresh meatballs, breaded chicken cutlets, fresh-made sauce, stuffed peppers, stuffed eggplant, ravioli and Italian sausage, and more.
Pizzeta Enoteca dishes up Italian fare, but nothing about this eatery is stuffily traditional. Instead, the staff strives to create a fresh, hip atmosphere, one that appeals to New Jersey’s young families. The menu makes the concept clearer with its headlining pizzetas and their unique toppings. The small-serving, thin-crust pies come crowned with everything from buffalo chicken to four-cheese blends to garden vegetables, mozzarella, and garlic to mimic the flavors of caprese salad. Although Millburn-Short Hills Patch says that “pizza is the way to go at Pizzeta,” the menu boasts a slew of tasty antipasti, paninis, and pastas. It also has dessert covered. Ricotta-filled cannoli and espresso-soaked tiramisu end meals more sweetly than a hug from a waiter who happens to be a kitten.
Serving up Italian/American food favorites?including spaghetti and meatballs, steaks, burgers, to seafood pasta?has been Pete's Tavern's calling since 1966. One of the eatery's more popular items, however, are an Italian twist on sliders. Created in the kitchen by owner Todd Simonds after a busy night, the mini burgers combine the first three things that the hungry Simonds could find: a meatball, a mozzarella-topped garlic knot, and marinara sauce. If meatballs aren't your thing, that's OK?you can swap them for sausages, eggplant, breaded chicken, or pepperoni.
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.