In the mines of northeastern Pennsylvania, workers heave loads of clean-burning anthracite coal and ship them to businesses such as Coal Fire, where chefs scoop the same coal into their 900-degree ovens to bake pizzas and wings. Before baking the pies, the chefs hand-toss the aged dough, then cover it with one of three original sauces and thick, house-made mozzarella cheese, as well as only the freshest produce and toppings such as sun-dried tomatoes and pepperoni. Outside the kitchen, servers slide across the polished floorboards, delivering platters of steaming pizzas and frosty drinks from the full bar.
Each pie that emerges from Planet Pizza and Subs’ sweltering ovens begins as a pile of flour. Adding little more than pizza magic, in-house chefs pound this mound into fresh dough, and pies begin to take shape as the chefs stretch them into original, thin, or deep-dish crusts. A layer of scratch-made sauce and grated cheese anoints each new creation and cushions any combination of 26 toppings, which can also be packed into calzones for secure domestic shipment into hungry bellies. Many of Planet's other eats are also made by hand, including pastas, chicken soups, and cheesecakes.
Voted one of the top-10 best pizza places in DC in radio station WTOP's online poll, The Dons' Wood-Fired Pizza hand-tosses each pie before slathering it with fresh ingredients and baking it to a melted, golden brown. Divvy up slices of the The Dons' Original Offer pizza to practice geometry homework while sating appetites with tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmigiano, romano, and fresh basil ($9.99/medium, $14.99/family size). Or try the Lucky Luciano, which features roasted rosemary chicken, portabella mushrooms, and roasted red peppers tossed on a doughy masterpiece, topped with a bevy of cheese in the shape of the notorious mobster's tommy gun ($12.99/medium, $18.99/family size).
Lucia’s Italian Ristorante is a team effort by the Impellizzeri family, which is headed up by native Sicilian Tino. At the feet of his Italian mother and a father who was a chef by trade, Tino mastered his family's recipes, which he now showcases on Lucia's menu. Tantalizing selections include housemade pizza, pasta, and from-scratch sauces. Many of the restaurant's pasta dishes and gourmet pizzas, including the chicken ranch, can be made in the kitchen without the use of gluten or blaring disco music. Chefs enable authentic noshing at home by freezing dinner entrees, pizzas, and sauces for customers to enjoy around their family dinner tables or crypts.
Geppetto Restaurant opened in 1977, quickly perfuming its surroundings with the rich scents of housemade Italian food. Hints of roasting garlic, simmering tomatoes, and bubbling cheese still hang in the air, conjuring images of the cooks hard at work in the kitchen, spreading spicy sauce across inch-thick sicilian pizzas and laying steamed Prince Edward mussels on plates of housemade spaghetti. Overall, the menu takes a slightly Californian approach to Italian cuisine, as evidenced by its sautéed chicken and artichokes entree as well as its rich ricotta pies that are dusted with toasted almonds. Another nod to the West Coast is the eatery’s extensive wine list, which tallies more than 150 different bottles, 70 percent of which hail from the Golden State’s 24-karat gold soil.
Since the first iteration of Jerry's Subs & Pizza opened in 1954, the staff has overstuffed its submarine sandwiches to ensure customers leave sated. In their specialty sandwiches, traditional or honey-wheat rolls are lined with crispy chicken tenders or crabmeat babycakes, and cheesesteaks get a flavor boost from ingredients such as spicy buffalo sauce, crisp, fried jalapeños, and bacon. Diners can also break bread with a New York–style pizza topped with crabmeat, grilled chicken, or jalapeños. Inside, the restaurant's interior sports stainless steel and neon lights, bringing the classic eatery into the 21st century without strapping it to a DeLorean.