In 1974, Hank Aaron tied the home-run record and the first pocket calculators leapt in popularity. It was also the year that Fred and Carol Zinda of rural Wisconsin decided they’d sell their belongings, move to Florida, and start an Italian restaurant. Now, celebrating their 39th year of business, ovens at the couple’s two locations open to reveal baked pastas and hand-tossed pies with regular or pan crusts that ripple in the waves of heat. Joto's Pizza––named for Jodi and Tori, the couple’s daughters––has remained a family affair. While licking fingers clean, patrons question a worker about the restaurant's catering services and the possibility of disguising pizzas as pie charts for tax purposes.
The brick walls of Jane Aberro's pizzeria are covered with autographed photos of celebrities such as Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson, each scrawled with lines of encouragement for the restaurant Aberro opened in her hometown of St. Petersburg. After working in show business in Los Angeles, Aberro decided to return home and open a pizzeria with partners, eventually taking the helm herself.
Inside, the manager gathers orders from customers, joking with a light Texas drawl while carefully monitoring the pizza, sandwiches, and soups. Behind the counter, cooks knead dough made from scratch, pour on house-made sauces, chopped herbs, and custom toppings, then fire pies in the oven until the crusts become golden and crisp. Aberro believes that what sets her pizza apart is the quality of her hand-selected ingredients, especially when it comes to her favorite component, cheese. She said the calzones are one of her favorite dishes because of the amount of cheese in each bite, noting, "even if you are used to eating cheese out of a can, you can taste the difference that the fresh cheese makes."
Aberro's attention to detail led to her personally designing the store's logo, hanging up the eatery's photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge, and following up with her customers. Open until 3 a.m., the pizzeria transforms from a cozy lunch spot into a well-oiled machine, rapidly producing slices for the late-night customers who line up around the block after leaving a nearby concert venue.
Tour de Pizza reimagines a traditionally hearty comfort food as a part of a healthy diet, with chefs creating mouthwateringly fresh pies from wholesome veggies, olive oil, and roma tomatoes. The restaurant takes its name from owner Matt McClellan's 2008 bike journey from St. Petersburg to New York, which saw him stopping at pizzerias on the way to prove that pizza can be part of a health-conscious lifestyle and not just the food of choice for couch potatoes or rebellious cartoon teenagers. Diners can sink their teeth into pizza that McClellan ate on his diet such as the traditional margherita pizzas topped with slices of roma tomato and slivers of fresh basil, or sample a Pearsciutto pie crowned with pears, prosciutto, and gorgonzola cheese.
In addition to supping on the handmade breakfast and dinner pies that constitute McClellan's 30-day pizza diet, guests can munch on stuffed strombolis and meatball subs, or jump-start their appetites with savory garlic knots and cheese bread.
Voted Best Central Avenue Dining in 2009 by Tampa Bay Magazine, JoJo's in Cittá Restaurant dishes up a palate-pleasing menu of piping-hot pizzas and savory pastas. Launch your edible expedition with a glass of Coppola shiraz, with hints of plum and raspberry ($6.50); and a plate of shrimp scampi Milaro, cooked with white wine, fresh garlic, and olive oil, crowned with bread crumbs, and baked to a golden brown ($7.95). Molar-pleasing entrees include the St. Pete Beach pizza ($11.95)—blanketed in pesto sauce and topped with pillows of chicken, roasted peppers, and artichokes—and the penne alla vodka ($13.95), where inebriated pasta challenges ham to a garlic-fueled game of Trivial Pursuit in a creamy tomato sauce. Munch indoors or nibble a cannoli ($4.95) al fresco in the Italian eatery's outdoor dining area.
Papa John's has carefully crafted a menu of specialty pizzas to satisfy any taste or mouth shape. Order a Hawaiian BBQ Chicken, or go all-out and get The Works, a top-heavy combination of pepperoni, ham, spicy Italian sausage, fresh-sliced onions, green peppers, gourmet baby portabella mushrooms, and ripe black olives. Satisfy herbivores and herbivoyeurs with a Tuscan Six-Cheese or Garden Fresh pie. The full list of specialty pizzas includes several more; take the hassle out of haggling over individual ingredients and boldly cast your straight-ticket ballot for the pizza party that your conscious dictates.
Gigi's Italian Restaurant is a family-owned eatery that has been injecting diners with the recommended dose of pizza, pasta, and parmigiana since 1967. Initiate meal time with appetizers such as the calamari, lightly fried to crispy resistance ($8), or Gigi's bruschetta, a toasty platform topped with fresh tomatoes, zesty snips of red onion, and dewed by balsamic vinegar and olive oil ($7). The specialty brick oven pizzas tempt taste seekers with the minimalist pizza margherita ($14.17 for a medum) and Gigi's special, an ensemble of pepperoni, mushrooms, onion, sausage, and green pepper peacefully playing culinary bocce ball within the boundaries of a thin-crusted circumference ($21.94 for a medium). Gigi's dinner menu represents the full gamut of authentic Italian favorites, including creamy pasta carbonara ($12), chicken piccata sautéed in a lemony garlic sauce ($15), and eggplant a la parmigiana, where slices of thick, breaded and fried eggplant are crowned with Gigi's sauce and accompanied by a hearty portion of pasta ($14). Pair plates with beer and wine, or a libation from the full liquor bar at the South Pasadena and St. Petersburg locations.