Zuccarelli's chefs have been serving fine Italian dishes for nearly three decades, but their recipes date back much further. Every day, they re-create carefully crafted homemade pasta, buttery sauces, and savory meats that have been shared at Italian tables for centuries. The cooks expertly render innovative interpretations of these time-honored dishes, tending to pans of simmering veal, chicken, and seafood, and tossing pizza crusts with gourmet toppings and cheese.
In the dining room, diners linger over last sips of wine and final bites of homemade tiramisu. A Romanesque column towers over the room, beaming down on rows of cushy booths and walls lined with artwork. On Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings, a guitarist serenades guests with authentic Italian music and 1980s video-game themes upon request.
For owners Joe Arato and Joe Gonnelly, Rosedale Brick Oven Pizzeria is a physical piece of nostalgia. The restaurant's name references the neighborhood in Queens where the two became childhood friends, bonding over a mutual passion for eating and evaluating Italian food. Having finally opened their own venue, they've inundated the setting with vintage charm. Exposed brick and wood surround the authentic wood-fired oven, accented by monitors that silently broadcast black-and-white movie classics, and the music of Frank Sinatra and Frankie Valli drifts throughout the dining room.
As they immerse themselves in the warmth of the rustic interior, diners peruse a menu built from imported ingredients. San marzano tomatoes flavor some of the 11 specialty pizzas crafted from housemade dough, including the margherita, which Kelly Merritt of the Daily News calls "impossibly fresh." The same review also praises the pasta-ordering system, which has patrons choose their favorite sauces and pasta types, a departure from the traditional method of blindfolding them as they pick noodles from a steaming colander. Diners might elect to mix the house-specialty alla vodka sauce with ridged rigatoni, a combination that Merritt deems "chief among the best."
Andrew Garavuso occasionally leaves his post as chef at Sicilian Oven to display his culinary abilities. In one appearance on NBC 6's morning show, he passed out samples of his eatery’s wood-fired pizzas and cooked mussels in white wine sauce. Back on the home turf of his kitchen, chef Garavuso stands over steaming pots of house-made sauces and cuts from-scratch pasta dough into strips of linguine or sheets to write lasagna recipes on. Around him, wood-fired pizzas emerge from ovens, steam pouring from fresh-made dough in golden circles or the square shape that is traditional for Sicilian pies. Tomatoes imported from Italy support toppings, such as olives, fresh basil, steak, sopressata, and gorgonzola.
The chefs at Argenti Pizza adorn their deep-dish pizzas—dubbed Argenti-style pies—with such creative ingredients as blue cheese, eggplant, pimientos, and chicken alfredo. The family-friendly eatery also piles plates high with spaghetti, ravioli, or chicken parmesan, their savory aromas mingling with karaoke tunes on Friday and Monday nights. At the other end of the pie spectrum, thinner New York–style crusts bake to a golden brown before being eaten or subbed in during frisbee golf.
Sicilian?born chef Agostino Vedda has been cooking for more than 40 years, and it shows at Sophia's Pizzeria & Restaurant. The restaurant, which he runs with his wife Vilma, is known for its housemade sauces that flavor pastas and chicken, veal, and seafood entrees. Sophia's also serves up more casual Italian cuisine such as calzones, sub sandwiches, and the only the food that astronauts are allowed to bring into space: pizza.