Around Jacksonville, Moon River Pizza has developed quite a pie following. Handmade red sauce pizzas arrive with clever names like the T-Rex (a classic meat lover’s pie) or the Maui “WOW”EE, a Hawaiian option. All, of course, come with Moon River’s crispy, browned crusts. Made-to-order calzones are large enough to share, and their pesto bread sticks also make for group snacking. Several classic salads, including gorgonzola and Greek, keep the menu feeling simple and classic. The bustling, well-lit pizzeria is a people-watching pleasure, and abounds with couples and boisterous families. Moon River Pizza is a relaxed throwback harkening to older bare-bones New York City pizzerias, and gets quite crowded during peak times. For drinkers, there’s also an ample draft beer selection and thoughtful wine list.
Carmine’s Pie House in the Riverside section of Jacksonville is an Italian eatery with a host of calzones, Stromboli’s, salads, pizzas and other assorted Italian dishes. An extensive menu of quirkily named pies includes Da Bomb, offered as crispy diced chicken and onions with crumbled blue cheese, mozzarella and hot sauce, or the Bad Ass BLT, which lands applewood smoked bacon, mozzarella and ranch dressing atop a pizza. There’s also the traditional lasagna, baked ziti and lobster ravioli to choose from, while snatching a seat at one of Carmine’s oversized oak booths. Funky wall décor, colorful art and metal hanging lanterns round out the eclectic and jazzy feel, making the space feel like a relaxed trattoria, rather than an upscale Italian experience.
Primi Piatti sits in the center of the Riverside district, an Italian trattoria that prides itself on the essence of Italian cuisine. The vintage ambience comes complete with butterscotch and seafoam green-colored walls, ornate gold mirrors, chandeliers and white tablecloths, giving patrons a sense of Italy right in the center of Jacksonville. The fare is equally Italian, with plates of linguine al putanesca found on the menu alongside veal Marsala, chicken caccitore and spinach ravioli. There’s a host of antipasto and al a carte items on hand, plus an extensive wine list. The small trattoria is upscale and refined, reminding most diners of an elegant spot somewhere deep in the heart of Rome. Whether you stop in for lunch or dinner, the menu selection is extensive and gelato is a must have.
The Brick Restaurant in Avondale is a delightful one-stop brunch, lunch or dinner bonanza. No matter where you sit or what time of day – outside on the patio, at the bar, or in the ample dining room – the atmosphere is fun and playful, though the focus is squarely on the food. Dedicated weekend brunchers flock for aptly-titled dishes like the Caprese Benedict , while huevos rancheros and a spicy habanero bloody Mary kick up the heat a notch. The seared ahi tuna salad, the seafood tower salad and the Hawaiian sirloin are dinner favorites, though approachable sandwiches mean it’s possible to find something for all to enjoy. And with an open, airy feel, The Brick’s large booths and dark wood floors make for an inviting meal, any time of day.
Gibbs NY Style Subs feeds hungry humans sub sandwiches created using fresh bread and Boar's Head meats and cheeses. Browse the menu for breaded works of edible art, such as the italian meatball sub ($5.59 for 8", $7.39 for 12"), which bathes meatballs in marinara sauce and melted cheese; the philly cheesesteak (5.99 for 8", $7.79 for 12"), an infantry of thin pieces of rib-eye steak flanked by sautéed onions; and the homespun egg-salad sub ($5.79 for 8", $7.59 for 12"). Supplement a sandwich with a quarter pound of potato salad ($0.79), forgo a sandwich with a garden salad topped with egg salad ($6.99), or poke at a sandwich with a pickle spear ($0.29).
Big Pete’s Pizzeria is a brick behemoth in the heart of downtown Jacksonville, offering up New York-style pies in a homey pizza parlor reminiscent of a classic Brooklyn joint. The red walls, vinyl floors and a TV give the pizzeria a decidedly casual vibe. The large ordering counter houses self-serve soft drinks and teas, while simple black chairs and tables fill the space. The menu is a mix of traditional pizzas and specialty pies like the Taco Pizza, Eggplant Parmesan Pizza and Buffalo Chicken Pizza. Diners can also nosh on a host of subs and sandwiches, from pan-fried meatballs to Italian sausage. Pasta dishes, wraps and wings round out Big Pete’s Pizzeria’s selection, where the service is quick and friendly.