You know you're on to something when your community votes to put you at the top. In Mineola Patch's 2012 Reader's Choice contest, fans selected Carlino's Restaurant as the best place to get Italian food in the area. As if that wasn't enough of an honor, the restaurant also won for Best Pizza. Hailing from a small town outside of Naples, Italy, the owner transported his native country's hospitality and love of food to New York City. Diners are treated like family as they indulge in authentic southern-Italian meals such as the spaghetti puttanesca with sautéed plum tomatoes, gaeta olives, garlic, anchovies, and capers, or the Sicilian Special pizza with sausage, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and pepperoni.
Patsy Grimaldi wasn’t like other boys his age. While his friends busied themselves playing baseball and balancing checkbooks, Patsy studied pizza-making under the tutelage of his uncle Patsy Lancieri. By the time Grimaldi was old enough to open a pizzeria of his own, he had perfected a recipe for fragrant tomato sauce and mastered the art of baking ultra-crispy crusts. As word of his pizza-making talents spread across New York, Patsy’s pizzeria attracted long lines and a variety of celebrity devotees including Bill Cosby, Bob Costas, and Frank Sinatra. Allegedly, Sinatra was so impressed by Patsy’s brick-oven pies that he regularly called in orders from his place in Vegas.
Today, Grimaldi’s Pizzerias have sprouted up across the country and earned accolades from Time magazine and Lonely Planet. Chefs continue to shower thin crusts in Pasty’s secret sauce along with handmade mozzarella and fresh toppings. They bake the pizzas in coal-fired brick ovens, faithfully following the tradition started by uncle Lancieri more than 80 years ago. Diners enjoy pies and brews in casual dining rooms where red-checkered tablecloths cover tables and NYC-inspired artwork decorates walls.
Italian and American classics top the dark wood tables at DiMaria's Brick Oven Pizza and Kitchen, where red booths enthrone diners chowing down between sprawling windows. Diners may avail themselves of plentiful free parking, or decide to dine at a table as they share appetizers such as the buffalo calamari, crispy, marine morsels served with blue cheese. A trio of eggplant rollatini stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella ushers in the veal madeira decked in mozzarella and asparagus simmered in mushroom sauce. Capers and peppers splay across a plate of wine-drenched pork pizzaiola, and garlic-speckled spinach accompanies the chicken oreganata baked in seasoned breadcrumbs so it stays both tender and texturally accessible to chopsticks.
A pizza isn't just a pizza at Umberto's Pizzeria & Restaurant—it's a symbol of decades of perseverance. Founder Umberto Corteo was raised working on his family's farm outside of Naples, and even when he and his siblings left to start a new life in Brooklyn, he never lost that deeply engrained work ethic. Umberto spent years working in kitchens, saving his money in the hopes of starting his own business. And in 1965, he did just that, opening up the doors and ovens at the original Umberto's Pizzeria & Restaurant in New Hyde Park. Together with his brother Carlo, Umberto established the pizzeria first as a local landmark, and eventually as a multi-location empire.
Today, the neighborhood institution continues to serve up Old World classics in a welcoming setting. Pizzas take the starring role on the menu, in Sicilian-style, Neapolitan-style, and deep-dish iterations. Quality ingredients form the foundation for each brick-oven baked pie, with an emphasis placed on freshness—the chefs make their own mozzarella in-house, and use a time machine to snatch the juiciest tomatoes ever grown. Panini sandwiches, pasta dishes, and chicken and veal entrees round out the selection of hearty home cooking. It's that no-frills approach to comforting cuisine that has won the restaurant legions of fans—in addition to indulging the appetites of athletes from the Giants, Jets, and Islanders, the pizzeria was also featured on an episode of the Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
For more than seven decades, the chefs at Maria's Restaurant have sated Sheepshead Bay residents with traditional Italian dishes and casual ambiance. Their antipastos creations, both hot and cold, pave the way for pasta of many shapes and periodic weights––from penne alla vodka to tortellini carbonara––as well as authentic preparations of seafood, chicken, and veal. Broiled steaks and chops sizzle on the grill, and conversations simmer in the warm, soft light of the dining room.
No food is more comforting than the stuff that Grandma makes. Perhaps that's why Nonna's Pizzeria & Trattoria is named for the Italian word for grandmother. Piles of rigatoni, linguine, and spaghetti get coated with a luscious blanket of sauce, while the signature pasta alla nonnas is a tasty tangle of cavatelli, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, and pancetta. From the oven emerge operatic solos as well as pizzas topped with fresh meats and veggies, then finished with olive oil and fresh basil. Hearty Italian entrees made with seafood, chicken, and chops, meanwhile, promise to satisfy without sticking to the ribs.