Patsy Grimaldi wasn’t like other boys his age. While his friends busied themselves playing baseball and balancing checkbooks, Patsy studied pizza-making under the tutelage of his uncle Patsy Lancieri. By the time Grimaldi was old enough to open a pizzeria of his own, he had perfected a recipe for fragrant tomato sauce and mastered the art of baking ultra-crispy crusts. As word of his pizza-making talents spread across New York, Patsy’s pizzeria attracted long lines and a variety of celebrity devotees including Bill Cosby, Bob Costas, and Frank Sinatra. Allegedly, Sinatra was so impressed by Patsy’s brick-oven pies that he regularly called in orders from his place in Vegas.
Today, Grimaldi’s Pizzerias have sprouted up across the country and earned accolades from Time magazine and Lonely Planet. Chefs continue to shower thin crusts in Pasty’s secret sauce along with handmade mozzarella and fresh toppings. They bake the pizzas in coal-fired brick ovens, faithfully following the tradition started by uncle Lancieri more than 80 years ago. Diners enjoy pies and brews in casual dining rooms where red-checkered tablecloths cover tables and NYC-inspired artwork decorates walls.
On the façade of Buongusto PieSanos hangs a neon-sculpted slice of pizza, its tip sagging under the weight of cheese, toppings, and the softness of hand-tossed dough. It's a fair of depiction of one of the restaurant's signature offerings—hearty Italian-style pies topped with ingredients including eggplant, baked ziti, or chicken parmigiana. Classic pastas and sandwiches join their circular brethren, and gluten-free and whole-wheat pasta options are available for diners with gluten sensitivity or investments tied up in wheat futures.
An uber-extensive menu of Italy’s favorite dishes are recreated day after day inside Papa Louie’s Pizzeria. Piles of penne and spaghetti pair with fresh italian bread ready to be dunked into a medley of sauces for their own Rorschach test. Chicken, eggplant, and veal change costumes with a marsala, parmigiana, and francaise dressing. The staff bakes 15 specialty pizzas that come in circles or squares, just like the schoolwork given to kindergartners and the most advanced babies. Heros sandwiches are chockfull of baked eggplant, buffalo chicken, and Nani’s famous meatballs. The catering leg of Papa Louie’s Pizzeria feeds partygoers at myriad celebrations: graduations, birthdays, and surprise spring-cleaning parties.
The sauce-slingers at Joanne’s Gourmet Pizza craft a menu of doughed delights and appetizing entrees made with fresh, homegrown ingredients. Start with an appetizer of sautéed mushrooms ($6.95) before hanging a fang on one of the many gourmet pies, such as the margarita pizza ($8 for a 9”), the lasagna pizza ($8 for a 9”), or the bacon cheeseburger pizza ($9 for a 9”). The baked clam pie quells seafood cravings ($10 for a 9"), and the pineapple-and-ham speckled Hawaiian pizza ($9 for a 9”) treats tongues to a taste of Island fare without having to lick a VHS copy of Cast Away. Alternatives to crusted concoctions include pasta noodles, which can flaunt a number of sauces ranging from garlic and oil ($7.95) to bolognese ($10.95) and a selection of hearty entrees that include chicken marsala ($13.95) and meatball parmigiana ($15.95). Or exercise mastication muscles gnawing on a savory sandwich, such as the chicken bruschetta hero ($7.95) or sharpen incisors on a Greek salad (8.95).
Big John's Pizza, a casual eatery located on Jamaica Avenue, serves up a menu of Italian, Greek, and American classics. Specialty pizzas, chopped philly cheesesteaks, and gyros on pita bread are just a few options. Diners can devour savory courses or Breyers ice cream while seated at red booths, or they can opt for delivery.