Beyond Tomato Pie of Morristown's French door façade, chefs mix fresh ingredients into a menu of signature pizzas and homemade Italian favorites. For starters, diced chicken and mozzarella cheese sing a duet in lightly fried balls of arborio rice served with marinara, or a chorus of Italian cheeses, meats, peppers, and beans rattle the antipasti platter with trilling operatic arias. To complement the Grandma pie's spread of gooey cheese and tomatoes over a crisp, rectangular crust, the circular tomato pie hosts hearty tomatoes and a selection of toppings ($2 each) such as artichokes, bacon, and sweet peppers. For dessert, rich slices of Nutella pie recall the sweet flavors of Italy's chocolate mountain ranges, and a sextet of zeppoles tops balls of deep-fried dough with spackles of fine powdered sugar.
The Brick Oven of Morristown's dough-spinning doyens handcraft a menu full of crusted creations and authentic Italian eats. Commence chew-infused chats with a bowl of the pasta e fagioli soup ($6.95) before choosing one of the popular brick-oven-baked pizzas, such as the alla mare di mare ($16.95), which combines clams, calamari, and shrimp beneath a canopy of mozzarella and ricotta cheese, or the four-cheese alla jessabella, served on a sauceless crust ($10.95). Diners can also build their own customizable pie (prices vary depending upon ingredients) for a culinary construction more appetizing than a Quaker-made oatmeal cathedral. Or skip sliced fare altogether and tongue-dive into a hearty main course, such as a primo pasta ($11.95+) or the pollo della casa—boneless chicken encrusted with parmesan cheese and sautéed in white-wine sauce ($17.95). To complement meals, guests can bring their own bottle of wine or host a séance to summon the spirit of a vintage chardonnay.
Every week, the chefs at Primavera Pizza Bistro offer a different specialty pizza, tossing pies with imaginative combinations of gourmet toppings and flavorful sauces. But their day-to-day selection of pies is equally as inspired—a colorful array of crispy-crust creations such as the Spinach Supreme, the chicken-parmesan pizza, and the Mediterranean Classic, speckled with artichoke hearts and salami. Beyond pizzas, the skilled chefs whip up a variety of authentic Italian dishes, including creamy alfredo bowtie pasta, crunchy homemade meatball subs, and zesty lemon-pepper salmon.
From the outside, Il Giardino Restaurant, Bar & Grill resembles an elegant house more than it does an Italian restaurant. A chandelier glows through arched picture windows, and Doric columns frame a stone porch. It’s an ideal space for a restaurant that stemmed from the owners’ passion for hosting family dinners around the kitchen table. To fuel those dinners, chefs prepare traditional Italian cuisine: they simmer four varieties of risotto, and toss pastas with simple sauces. They prepare veal scallopini five different ways, from a simple lemon-and-caper sauce to prosciutto and melted fontina demi-glace. The eatery has served these meals since 1986, and it underwent a renovation in 2003, so the decor is almost as fresh as the food.
Servers are happy to recommend selections from the ample wine list. Oenophiles can also inquire about off-list bottles that are hard to find or have been hunted to near-extinction for yacht christenings.
The dough wizards at Papa John's Pizza hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.