If you want a taste of history, look no further than Patsy's. Occupying the same spot for nearly 80 years, the shop first earned success with Italian immigrants in the 1930s, who were drawn to the cozy eatery in part for it's authentic cuisine and partly for the homey atmosphere created by owners and newlyweds Pasquale "Patsy" and Carmella Lancieri. As time passed, it became a popular hangout for famous crooners including Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, who may have crossed paths with Yankees regulars Joe Dimaggio and Yogi Berra on any given night. Subsequent decades saw the pizza joint serving as a popular hangout for Francis Ford Coppola, who supposedly drew inspiration for his characters in The Godfather during late-night stops at Patsy's, while politicians such as Rudy Guiliani, Michael Bloomberg, and Spiro Agnew all used the eatery as a popular place to address voters. But while the faces are always changing, one thing at Patsy's has remained the same: the pizza. Baked in a coal-fired oven, the pizzas emerge with a bubbling thin crust that New York Magazine dubs "awe-inspiring". Toppings run the gamut from traditional pepperoni and sausage, to gourmet grilled chicken or prosciutto, while a dessert pizza swaps out sauce and cheese for a sweet-spread of chocolate and hazelnuts. Comfort cuisine is also prevalent on the non-pizza side of the menu, with plates piled high with spaghetti or ziti and topped with homemade meatballs and marinara, or chicken marsala, which arrives with Portobello mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and a wool scarf hand-knit by one of the waiters' grandmothers.
Maurina Branchinelli wakes up early to prep ingredients in La Villa Pizzeria's kitchen. The mother of the restaurant's current owner is known to make sure her pomodoro sauce has the right amount of olive oil and even hop behind the line to help sauté during the dinner rushes. This love of food runs throughout the Branchinelli family, from Maurina's husband, Benito, to her brother, Gino, who opened the family's first restaurant in 1955. The Zagat-rated restaurant has thrived since opening in Queens in 1982, enough to expand to two locations in Brooklyn.
Inside their kitchens, chefs stoke wood-burning ovens to bake more than 19 varieties of pizzas, including Neapolitan- and Sicilian-style pies dressed with whole-milk mozzarella and a specialty San Marzano tomato-and-basil sauce. Each location has a spacious dining room where patrons can split appetizers of homemade meatballs, dig into plates of sautéed Nature veal marsala, and down a rich shot of espresso before a long night of wondering whether they paid the phone bill.
As the sun rises, Chef Pasquale can be found one of two places. Most days, he wakes up early to visit a Bronx marketplace where he personally selects the freshest ingredients for Da Marino's menu. If he isn't there, then he's picking even-fresher produce directly from the vine in his home garden. Chef Pasquale learned the importance of fresh ingredients from his grandmother while he was first learning to cook in Calabria, Italy. From there, he honed his skills in Italy, Germany, France, and Finland before coming to the United States and opening Da Marino. Here, he crafts homemade pastas, such as the stuffed-cheese rigatoni and thin capellini, and prepares Old-World entrees of sea trout sautéed with tarragon and capers in a lemon-butter sauce and new york strip steaks grilled to order.
The chef pays attention to the restaurant's ambiance just as much as he does to the food. Once featured in a scene on Sex and the City, the restaurant is designed to mimic an Italian villa with faux stonework and murals of Tuscan scenery painted by Italian artist Davide Rodoquino. Even the restrooms match the Old-World aesthetic with stone fountains, vases of flowers, and vaulted ceilings painted with blue skies that earned a nomination for 2012's Best Restroom in America from Cintas and the Plumber's Tourism Agency.
More than 20 gourmet pizzas and 70 subs circulate the extensive menu at The Original Buffalo Pizzeria & Sub Shop. Pizza defends its title as most versatile foodstuff with a roster of specialty and customizable pies ($5.95–$35.95), including the Original Buffalo Deluxe pizza ($15.95 for small), which bears a scout sash brimming with edible badges, including pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, olives, and onion. Pie professionals infuse crusts with a host of flavors such as sesame seed, romano, or Cajun and sculpt dough to New York–style, Sicilian, stromboli, or gluten-free perfection. On the sub side of the menu, the roast beef relaxes in a flavor-fomenting sauna for nearly 10 hours to produce the roast-beef classic, a savory sub served on a garlic roll topped with fried mushrooms ($8.25 whole). A flock of regular or boneless wings soar in a sapid list of sauces, such as medium, mild, suicidal, hot barbecue, honey mustard, and italian ($9.25).
Lovin’ Cup’s owners had a dream of creating a place that celebrates life’s pleasures and offers the unique and personal experience each of their customers seeks. And to achieve that dream, it took the combined efforts of all five owners to truly fill Lovin' Cup to the brim, each one specializing in a different area of the culinary arts or entertainment. The crew started with a simple, delicious menu of familiar eats made right, such as Angus beef burgers, gourmet pizzas, and hearty sandwiches. They paired these, with an array of craft beers on tap – plus more than 50 varieties in bottles – and a carefully curated list of international wines.
To entertain the brain's higher functions, they host game nights every Monday, open mic performances every Tuesday, and live music of every genre on Thursdays. Performances rotate between jazz, alt-country, indie, and rock groups as often as they change out their drafts on tap and, presumably, their socks. And finally, the owners paid similarly close attention to the artistic décor of their space, from the polished wood of their wine racks and tables to the mutable collection of art that peppers the walls.
In 1909, Frank Pepe immigrated to the United States from his native town of Maiori, Italy. He was poor, illiterate, and just 16 years old—but he had a strong work ethic. After a stint in a New Haven factory and service as an Italian solider in World War I, he settled down for good in New Haven with his wife, Filomena, and started a bakery delivery service. But because he couldn’t read, he had trouble deciphering the orders. So he started having his customers come to him, and in 1925, he and Filomena added a simple item to the menu: Neapolitan-style pizzas.
To this day, the staff still heats up coal-fired ovens to bake the original tomato pies that Frank and Filomena first made famous. They can also add toppings such as bacon, Italian-imported anchovies, and house-roasted red peppers to their pizzas, or create specialty pies such as their signature white clam with olive oil, fresh garlic, and oregano. Diners can pair their pies with Pepe’s salad, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette, or have the server tap draft brews such as Sam Adams Boston Lager and Peroni. They’ve served Foxon Park soda since 1925, so diners can request bottles of cream soda or diet white-birch beer made from only the sveltest birch trees.