Though Brucci's Pizza owner Bruce Jackson was born in Syracuse, New York, his grandparents hail from Italy, and he grew up feasting on Italian recipes that had been passed down through generations. At his restaurant, the chefs follow the same timeworn recipes as his grandparents when dishing up Italian favorites with a New York–style flair. They whip up lasagna layered with meatballs and italian sausage, grill paninis, and hand-toss housemade dough for pizzas, strombolis, and calzones. Their specialty pies include the Brooklyn—topped with diced tomatoes and fresh basil—and the Syracuse Stuffer—laden with sausage, beef, pepperoni, and ham, as well as green peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
But Brucci's Pizza is more than just an eatery—it's also a gathering place. In addition to weekly specials, the three locations host regular events. The Ponte Vedra and Fruit Cove locations host a Monday kids' night, and the West Beaches location facilitates live music twice a week, played by bands that are not made up of animatronic rodents. The chefs also issue a standing challenge: if any guest can devour a double-thick, 16-inch Fuhgeddaboudit pizza—smothered in seven toppings and gobs of extra cheese—within an hour, it's on the house.
Mellow Mushroom, in the Tinseltown shopping Center on Jacksonville’s south side, is a psychedelic wonder that overflows with twisty overhead pipes, murals of colorful mushrooms, oak flooring, deep burgundy booths and giant mushroom sculptures. Specialty pizzas are the order of the day here, with options like the Magical Mystery Tour and the Kosmic Karma, served with sun-dried tomatoes, feta and a pesto swirl. Customers can also build their own pizzas, or opt for salads, calzones and hoagies, while fungi favorites like mushroom soup and a stuffed Portobello stay true to theme. Mellow Mushroom even caters to the vegetarian and vegan with vegan cheese, tempeh and tofu pizzas and salads, plus a gluten-free option by request.
When diners at Vinny's Italian Restaurant and NY Pizzeria bite into a slice of hot, cheesy pizza, they can rest assured that they are noshing on the genuine article. That's because the pies here are crafted by former Big Apple residents who know how to calibrate the crust, sauce, and toppings just so. And for those who prefer to sample the entrees of the old country, there are plenty of pasta, veal, and seafood dishes on the menu as well. Deli subs come cold or hot, and 12-inch stromboli get baked over the Statue of Liberty's torch.
A trio of Brooklyn-born brothers oversees Renna's pizza production, preserving its New York–style authenticity with a menu bursting at the seams with thin-crust pies among other Italian eats. Unlike toddler politicians campaigning against toy redistribution, families show their appreciate for sharing by divvying up Renna's deluxe specialty pizza topped with pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, and veggies ($12.95+). Diners can grab a quick slice of pizza ($2.75+) or settle in for a dinner entree of homemade baked lasagna with sautéed ground beef, special spices, and a delectable blend of cheeses ($10.25). The sizzling eggplant parmigiana sandwich comes baked and topped with melted mozzarella ($6.25), prompting bites cheesier than unemployed Neil Diamond impersonators. As former Navy and Marines service members, Renna's owners offer 10% discounts for active and retired members of the U.S. military.
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).