Flickering neon signs draw the eyes of passerby to Matese Pizzeria Ristorante, which sums up its menu in three simple words: pizza, pasta, heroes. The neighborhood joint has prepared their specialty pies and pasta since 1978, pairing pizzeria classics with Italian veal and seafood entrees. In their casual dining room, towering refrigerators of soft drinks and racks of chips stand next to wooden tabletops. Delivery staff rush steaming packages all over town, responding to phoned-in requests, online orders, and meatball-shaped smoke signals.
Italian and American classics top the dark wood tables at DiMaria's Brick Oven Pizza and Kitchen, where red booths enthrone diners chowing down between sprawling windows. Diners may avail themselves of plentiful free parking, or decide to dine at a table as they share appetizers such as the buffalo calamari, crispy, marine morsels served with blue cheese. A trio of eggplant rollatini stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella ushers in the veal madeira decked in mozzarella and asparagus simmered in mushroom sauce. Capers and peppers splay across a plate of wine-drenched pork pizzaiola, and garlic-speckled spinach accompanies the chicken oreganata baked in seasoned breadcrumbs so it stays both tender and texturally accessible to chopsticks.
A pizza isn't just a pizza at Umberto's Pizzeria & Restaurant—it's a symbol of decades of perseverance. Founder Umberto Corteo was raised working on his family's farm outside of Naples, and even when he and his siblings left to start a new life in Brooklyn, he never lost that deeply engrained work ethic. Umberto spent years working in kitchens, saving his money in the hopes of starting his own business. And in 1965, he did just that, opening up the doors and ovens at the original Umberto's Pizzeria & Restaurant in New Hyde Park. Together with his brother Carlo, Umberto established the pizzeria first as a local landmark, and eventually as a multi-location empire.
Today, the neighborhood institution continues to serve up Old World classics in a welcoming setting. Pizzas take the starring role on the menu, in Sicilian-style, Neapolitan-style, and deep-dish iterations. Quality ingredients form the foundation for each brick-oven baked pie, with an emphasis placed on freshness—the chefs make their own mozzarella in-house, and use a time machine to snatch the juiciest tomatoes ever grown. Panini sandwiches, pasta dishes, and chicken and veal entrees round out the selection of hearty home cooking. It's that no-frills approach to comforting cuisine that has won the restaurant legions of fans—in addition to indulging the appetites of athletes from the Giants, Jets, and Islanders, the pizzeria was also featured on an episode of the Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate.