Though Brucci's Pizza owner Bruce Jackson was born in Syracuse, New York, his grandparents hail from Italy, and he grew up feasting on Italian recipes that had been passed down through generations. At his restaurant, the chefs follow the same timeworn recipes as his grandparents when dishing up Italian favorites with a New York–style flair. They whip up lasagna layered with meatballs and italian sausage, grill paninis, and hand-toss housemade dough for pizzas, strombolis, and calzones. Their specialty pies include the Brooklyn—topped with diced tomatoes and fresh basil—and the Syracuse Stuffer—laden with sausage, beef, pepperoni, and ham, as well as green peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
But Brucci's Pizza is more than just an eatery—it's also a gathering place. In addition to weekly specials, the three locations host regular events. The Ponte Vedra and Fruit Cove locations host a Monday kids' night, and the West Beaches location facilitates live music twice a week, played by bands that are not made up of animatronic rodents. The chefs also issue a standing challenge: if any guest can devour a double-thick, 16-inch Fuhgeddaboudit pizza—smothered in seven toppings and gobs of extra cheese—within an hour, it's on the house.
The Fruit Cove Road pizzeria serves up a fresh, scratch-made menu of pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and more for lunch, dinner, and late-night dining. Kick off a meeting of local weavers by passing around a basket of cheese fries ($4.69) sprinkled with bacon (+$1) for a decadent meal-starting treat, or share an antipasto salad ($8.99) with a pro-pasto pal. The hand-tossed, New York–style pizza, fired in St. Johns' brick oven, promises to please the pizza-anemic and is available by the slice, starting at $2 for sensible noshing, or by the pie, starting at $8.29 for a plentiful portion. Choose to customize your supper by selecting from more than 20 toppings, or opt instead for a specialty pie, such as the meat lovers ($13.99+), loaded with smoked bacon, meatballs, ham, pepperoni, sausage, and cheese. Sandwiches at the eatery are served on scratch-baked bread, and the plentiful selection of entree pastas can satisfy the herbivore in your jury with the brick-oven baked ziti ($10.99) or tempt the bird-beaked with chicken Benevento ($15.99), a tender cutlet nestled between a bed of ziti and a blanket of mushroom Rosie Alfredo sauce.
Though not traditionally considered a first-date food, a romantic pit-barbecue lunch or dinner functions as a relationship barometer, marking a milestone in your relationship's level of security and sauce. Take your saucy sweetie to Dave's Brick Pit BBQ for the restaurant's titular barbecue, made authentically in a brick pit over hickory and oak wood. Try a pulled-pork sandwich with house-made slaw, or a traditional cheeseburger with sweet-potato fries. Once the sun is hanging low and all the day's duels are done, start dinner off with appetizers such as fried pickles, fried corn nuggets, or fried mushrooms. Dinners come on plate-shaped pedestals, served with two sides and two pieces of garlic bread for sopping up loose sauce. Endulge in a tumbling-off-the-bone baby-back-rib dinner or brick-pit pork. Balance the scales with a tossed salad, then give up the battle altogether and indulge in a gooey dessert. A variety of libations are also available to cleanse barbecue-saturated palates; draft beer comes by the pitcher, or get fancy with a margarita or Jim Beam and coke.