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.
Family-owned Le Star Pizzaria dishes up a menu of regular and thin-crust pizzas alongside traditional pastas and sub sandwiches. Ten specialty pies harbor distinctive combinations of more than a dozen savory toppings and seasonings, and housemade cakes and pies subdue stark, raving sweet teeth in fruit-based straightjackets. The pizza parlor hosts a weekday happy hour and provides discounts for active military and police personnel.
While the heart of Johnny Carino's menu is rooted in genuine Italian traditions, forward-thinking creativity has birthed what they like to call their signature dishes. Led by executive chef Chris Peitersen, the seasoned kitchen staff blends fresh ingredients along with extra time to create high-quality, spiced Italian preparations. Diners will find entrees such as 16-layer lasagna with made-from-scratch sauce, and pizzas made with home-baked crust. Other signature choices include the spicy shrimp and chicken, baked stuffed mushrooms topped with house lemon basil cream sauce, and tiramisu made from the ground up. Entrees can be paired any selection from Carino's extensive wine list and drink menu.
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.
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.