The Massa family can trace its roots back to two New York pizza legends?both of whom are named Patsy. One, Patsy Grimaldi, founded the famous Grimaldi's in Brooklyn. The other, Patsy Lancieri, was responsible for Patsy's of East Harlem. Given these connections, it's no surprise that the Massas have a knack for the pizza business. They've been serving their signature pies since 1933, and today, they bake each of them inside a coal-fueled oven at temperatures upwards of 900 degrees.
Atop regular, whole-wheat, or gluten-free dough, chefs add toppings such as meatballs and arugula. They also assemble a handful of specialty pizzas, crowned with everything from caramelized onions to whole chopped clams. Items like eggplant parmesan and pepperoni chips round out the menu, complemented by wine, beer, and after-dinner cappuccinos.
The chefs at Zaro's Café import the Mediterranean flavors of Greece and Italy onto plates brimming with Old World flavor. After perusing the extensive menu, dish archaeologists can excavate the Greek moussaka's layers of eggplant, potato, and ground beef doused in a béchamel sauce ($15.50), or an assortment of pastas that includes penne salmon, tossed with asparagus drenched in a roasted-pepper pink sauce ($15.95). Five models of tzatziki-topped gyros putt-putt toward mouths, from traditional to a hot, whole-wheat vegetarian gyro, stuffed with grilled asparagus, zucchini, white onion, and lettuce ($9.25). Neapolitan and square Sicilian pizza pies are available whole or by the slice, and calzones, rolls, and stromboli transport dough-wrapped flavor to mouths directly from the Boot. Or stamp culinary passports with Italian entrees, with classic options including veal marsala—veal medallions as tender as constructive criticism—sautéed with marsala wine and fresh mushrooms ($18.95).
Some of New York's most familiar faces have been spotted enjoying Umberto's award-winning pizza. Rudy Giuliani. Eli Manning. Victor Cruz. The Statue of Liberty whenever a lightning storm reanimates her. There are more complex entrees as well?including seafood marinara with clams, scungilli, mussels, lobster, and calamari?but the crown jewel of the menu remains the specialty pizzas strewn with authentically Italian toppings such as meatballs and broccoli rabe.
Waves of heat radiate from an open oven door as a chef pulls out a Sicilian pizza baked to a golden finish, then slides in a fresh crust topped with eggplant, roasted peppers, and house-made mozzarella cheese. Other chefs prep for the dinner rush, cutting up homemade rigatoni noodles to later douse with a tomato or beef bolognese cream sauce. Classic Italian dishes can be prepared family style, in which heaps of pasta are divided among siblings according to their age or skill at dogsled racing. Emilio’s catering service also brings platters of pasta, salad, and sandwiches to parties of all sizes.
Calda Pizzeria & Restaurant’s extensive menu of pizzas, piles of pasta, and burgers parades past gleaming tables flaunting time-tested Italian flavors. Diners can share 18-inch chicken-club pizzas ($21.95) decorated with produce, bacon, and ranch dressing, or guard their own personal-size eggplant-and-ricotta pies ($9.95) from herbivorous velociraptors. The Pizzeria burger ($9.95) merges the best of both worlds by draping a half-pound slab of Angus beef in homemade tomato sauce and a mantle of melted mozzarella. Linguine fruti di mare ($17.95) lets a school of mussels, calamari, and shrimp play Marco Polo in a pool of marinara sauce, and california penne with sun-dried tomatoes, grilled chicken, and broccoli spears ($12.95) lobs crisp fistfuls of veggies like a farmer on a Carnival float. The Levittown eatery features soft lighting and a row of burnt-sienna stools, and windows at the Hicksville establishment admit cascades of natural light.
Bella's Pizzeria's chefs take their time to make every dish special, from the utterly familiar pepperoni pizza slice to the unusually tasty veal francese. Their pizza dough is made from scratch daily, and the chefs top each disk with homemade sauce and fresh toppings. The chefs imbue pasta dishes with secret spice combinations, and they bake up a few special treats, like buttery garlic knots to warm up the appetite, or nutella-filled calzones.