Lonzalos Pizzeria & Ristorante borrowed the name of the one-time foreman of the Starkey Ranch, Lonzalo “Lonnie” Cannon, whose work ethic and Italian origins inspired the eatery’s culture. The man himself still resides in north Florida at the ripe old age of 95, not too far away to visit owner Scott Cochrane’s homage to his life.
The pizzeria serves regular, deep-dish, and stuffed pies, but also delves extensively into traditional Italian cookery, combining choice pieces of meat and seafood with rich sauces and pasta. The rich scent of cheese and wine wafts through the dining room, though visitors can opt instead to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and potential UFO sightings of alfresco dining on the outdoor patio. The indoor space transforms into a late-night comedy venue on the second Saturday of each month at 10 p.m., hosting a rotating cast of funny-bone ticklers.
At the age of 13, Rosario Fierro created his first pasta dish. The Napoli-born chef continued studying Italian culinary traditions as he grew up, eventually taking over the kitchen at Villa Verde Café. He pairs baby clams with freshly cut fettuccine noodles, covers sliced eggplant with his own marinara sauce, and works chicken, artichoke, and cheese inside homemade spinach ravioli. Chef Rosario also gladly takes off-menu requests from patrons, as long as his kitchen has the necessary ingredients and the request has been authorized by a notary public. Out in the dining room, flames flicker in the brick fireplace, and paintings of the countryside hang above tables.
Westshore Pizza’s cooks evoke the flavors of a Philadelphian eatery by using sauce made from California tomatoes, house-made dough, and hand-grated Wisconsin mozzarella as they bake New York–style pizza. In addition to adding such savory toppings as bacon, broccoli, and jalapeños, the staff also stuffs philly cheesesteaks with melted cheese and sautéed vegetables. Dedicated to fresh, quality ingredients, cooks also grill half-pound patties of Angus beef for their hamburgers and bake their own italian bread from a recipe found etched into the side of the Liberty Bell.
Unlike applying for a job, auditioning for a play, or winning over in-laws, becoming a member of the Lobosco clan is as easy as eating pie. Pizza pie, that is. "One bite and you'll be family!" is the restaurant's fun-loving motto, one that the kitchen crew reinforces by crafting homestyle pasta dinners, hot hero sandwiches on fresh-baked bread, and classic Italian entrees such as eggplant parmigiana. Pizzas are stretched thin in the New York fashion, then topped with ingredients ranging from classic sausage, pepperoni, and olives to less common shrimp, crab, and white sauce.
Voted Best Specialty Pizza in Dunedin in a House of Beers citywide contest in 2010, Bayshore Pizza’s success comes courtesy of co-owner Erik Johanson’s passion for quality ingredients. That and his mom’s secret sauce recipe, of course. Making good on a lifelong dream to run his own restaurant, Johanson oversees the family-owned-and-operated pizzeria, where chefs hand-toss fresh, daily prepared dough before transforming it into thin-crust and pan pizzas, folding it into ricotta-stuffed calzones, and rolling into hearty strombolis. Pizzas are available whole, or by the slice, where toppings range from the classic––pepperoni, sausage, green pepper––to the creative––clams, garlic, parmesan, and bacon––and a choice of five sauces waits to grace Bayshore’s chicken wings, which also won top prize in 2011, but never brag about it.
At Pronto Pizza, chefs whip up Chicago-style, New York-style, and thin Italian-style crusts on their signature pies. Customized pizzas can be enhanced by more than 15 toppings, from pepperoni and sausage to eggplant and banana peppers. Pizzas range from the Hawaiian pizza, with ham, pineapple, and mozzarella, to “Carlos Pie,” with grilled chicken and pesto. The menu is also rife with classic Italian dishes, such as veal piccata, chicken Palermo, and shrimp fra diavolo, paired several wines and beers.