Marco's Pizza founder Pasquale "Pat" Gianmarco began helping out at his family’s pizzeria when he was just a boy. The eatery provided a taste of home to the Gianmarco clan, who moved to the United States from Italy when Pat was 9 years old. Together with his father, young Pat learned the secrets to creating exceptional pizza sauce: three different types of vine-ripened tomatoes and spices that can only be imported from Italy or the moon.
The perfected sauce recipe continues to guide Pat’s kitchen operations, although these days he has considerably more help. His company has franchise locations in more than half the states as well as in the Bahamas, each store tossing fresh pizza dough daily before sprinkling on a trio of fresh, never-frozen cheeses.
A downtown mainstay for more than a quarter century, Ciao Italian Restaurant quells cravings with Prime Omaha beef and house-made sugar-free marinara rife with garlic, basil, and olive oil. Chef Tony, the eatery's epicurean mastermind, pours more than three decades of culinary experience into the preparation of Maryland-style crab cakes and fettuccine alfredo seasoned with pepper and ground nutmeg. Servers ferry glasses of pomegranate margaritas to tables dressed in gray linens and patrons sink forks into creamy cannolis imported from New York City's Little Italy. The venue's cozy dining area seats businessmen for quick lunches, couples for candlelit dinners, and canine actors for Lady and the Tramp scene studies.
Papa John's has been popping out perfectly personalized pies 'round the clock for the past 25 years, fleshing out its lineup of specialty pizzas with a munificent menu of wings, breadsticks, and desserts to satisfy any taste or mouth shape. Movie-preview lovers can apply the same principles to a meal with an appetizer such as 12-inch cheese sticks ($7) or a massive 50-piece order of buffalo wings ($32). Begin the first act with a large Hawaiian BBQ Chicken ($16), or go all-out and get an extra-large The Works, a top-heavy combination of pepperoni, ham, spicy italian sausage, fresh-sliced onions, green peppers, gourmet baby portobello mushrooms, and ripe black olives ($18). Like a bangin’ club or especially bangin’ fireplace store, Papa John's stays open late, making it an opportune eatery for impromptu pajama jams and uncontrollable sleep-feasting.
Playtime Pizza entertains kids and adults with 70,000 square feet of long division–free fun. More than 140 games populate the facility’s two-story arcade, which encourages players to achieve new high scores on Dance Dance Revolution and on six miniature bowling lanes. Black lights cast a celestial spell across the mini golf course, where putters sink holes-in-one under the gaze of pirates and sea creatures, and on the bumper-car track, drivers spend time bouncing through the sea of cars. Smiles disappear only when mouths get sidetracked by pizza, one of the many finger-friendly food items that line the center’s expansive buffet spread.
The NYPD menu, packed with appetizers, pizzas, calzones, pasta, heroes, and even dessert, revs you up to run down hunger in any number of flavorful vehicles. Dive into cheese with mozzarella sticks ($6.49), then float to the surface of a specialty mealwheel such as the Manhattan meat lovers' (10-inch, 14-inch, or 18-inch pie with pepperoni, meatballs, and bacon, $7.99, $14.99, $17.99). Or choose from more than 20 types of toppings such as fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes to craft the Staten Island stuffed pizza, any two toppings and mozzarella crammed between two layers of pizza dough (18-inch only, $25.99). For a circle-free entree, grab a convict cheese calzone (mozzarella and ricotta, $7.99) or an eggplant parmigiana hero ($6.99) before finishing your sentence with a slice of authentically creamy NY cheesecake ($3.99).
From the tomato-red columns running along the wall to the fresh green basil that garnishes dishes on its tables, the dining room at Palio’s Pizza Cafe bursts with color. Roma tomatoes, red peppers, and spicy, house-made red sauce paint thin, crisp pizza crusts. Farm-fresh salads host a kaleidoscope of colorful toppings, such as the Nutty Hawaiian's cashews, pineapples, and cranberries. By the entrance, the mural of a flamenco dancer brandishes a wine bottle like those used by waiters to pour out reds and whites. Above her head, the word Palio's unfurls like an artist's signature on canvas, lending a name to the colorful culinary scene.
Palio's chefs aim to make their dishes as healthful as they are vibrant. They craft crusts with whole-wheat or gluten-free dough upon request, and blend only fresh ingredients and locally sourced magic beans into their house-made pasta sauce.