Mike Rocco’s love for pizza started in the Bronx, where he worked at his father’s pizzerias from a young age. Now, with the help of his brothers, Joe and Frank, he continues his family's tradition at 10 locations of his own invention—all flaunting the Planet Pizza name tag.
A man can't build such a pizza universe without some serious pies. But inspiration isn't a problem for Mike and his chefs, who've molded more than 30 toppings into about 25 specialty circles, all available on gluten-free and whole-wheat crusts. In addition to specialty pizzas, the cooks concoct other Italian-American fare such as shrimp parmigiana and mini pizza rolls that are more convincing than Pluto as a mature planet.
Owner Randy Price curates a creative menu of New Haven–style "apizza" in more than 30 styles. His team crafts fresh dough daily using unbleached flour, creates sauce from handpicked italian and chilean tomatoes, and sprinkles pies with cheese from home-schooled cows. The famous Challenger—a 22-inch pizza stuffed with a mélange of vegetables and meats that weigh in at nearly 10 pounds—presents the hungriest visitors with a challenge to conquer the hot wheel in an hour or less, a feat that has earned a place on the Travel Channel's Man Vs. Food roster of surmounted food battles.
Since opening in 1931, Bacco's Restaurant has become a local destination for pizza and Italian cuisine. The menu offers diners a variety of pizzas, char-grilled steaks, and specialties, such as veal saltimbocca rolled with prosciutto. Nearly everything is made in house, from warm loaves of bread to the sumptuous sauces that dress signature pasta dishes. The restaurant's comfortable interior was recently remodeled, and now features a roomy bar where servers pour cold drinks.
Led by their mom, Cassandra, brothers Mergim, Burim, Durim, and Agim turned a cache of generations-old family recipes into 4 Brothers Pizza & Mediterranean Restaurant. With these unique culinary formulas, the tight-knit clan infuses classic Mediterranean and Peloponnesian flavors into their sprawling lineup of Italian and Greek dishes, which includes flaky spanakopita, linguine with clam sauce, and creamy penne with chicken and broccoli. Each of the brothers also boasts a favorite pizza that bears their name, agreeing that whoever’s pie is the most popular gets to claim the remote control forever times infinity.
In the kitchen of Nuzzo's Apizza, third-generation pizza maker Barry Nuzzo and his team of cooks prepare thin-crust New Haven-style pizzas and Sicilian-style pies layered with ricotta cheese. Patrons can choose from toppings such as bacon, clams, or red peppers roasted on-site, or opt for a specialty pie: the Eggplant Rollatine, for example, which combines eggplant, marinara, ham, ricotta, and Parmesan. The cooks also make gluten-free pizzas, pasta dishes, and submarine sandwiches.