Beneath proudly fluttering Italian and American flags, handcrafted New York–style pizzas and time-tested Italian dishes emerge from Johnny's New York Pizza's kitchen. From an outdoor patio, crispy thin crusts launch steam from homemade dough and fistfuls of toppings including mushrooms, genoa salami, and eggplant. Pasta strands teem with mussels, calamari marinara, or grilled chicken, and cold and hot hero sandwiches conceal veal cutlet and cheese-steak fixings. Checkered tables beg for customers to linger with marinara-festooned meals, and readymade pizza slices allow patrons to hastily pick up a meal or something to wave at passing ships to prove they have pizza.
Hungry Howie’s grew into a nation-spanning franchise from a humble start in Taylor, Michigan in 1973, when founder Jim Hearn converted a hamburger stand into a pizzeria. With the help of business partner Steve Jackson––who started as a delivery man at the original location––the two men franchised a decade later and began expanding their delicious operation, eventually expanding to nearly 600 locations spread across 24 states in the 3rd dimension alone. Winner of Pizza Today magazine’s Chain of the Year award in 2004, Hungry Howie’s continues to earn the most attention for its specialty flavored crust pizzas––which infuse dough with a choice of eight seasonings such as ranch or garlic herb––as well as zesty pizza accompaniments such as oven-baked meatball and chicken parm subs.
Flavors of Italy and Peru form a mouthwatering marriage within Nonna’s kitchen where chefs conjure platefuls of both countries’ signature dishes. They entangle homemade pastas with meatballs and sausage, slather marinara over tender slices of veal or eggplant, and sear up thick pork chops and sirloin steaks. On the Peruvian half of menu, the spotlight shines on seafood-bejeweled stir-fries, citrusy ceviches, and hearty chicken and pepper stew. The restaurant also caters to on-the-go diners and proud computer owners with online ordering for pickup and delivery.
At Primavera, executive chef Giacomo celebrates the cuisine of his native Italy with a menu of mouthwateringly authentic northern-Italian treats. Like a cuckoo clock that runs on ethanol, the appetizing bill of fare combines contemporary influences with Old-World traditions, dishing out house-made pasta and tender veal cutlets served alongside fresh catches of the day and wholesome risottos. Tender veal chops and colorful salads arrive tableside amid the relaxing ambiance of the rustic, cream-colored walls, or guests can mingle over glasses of flavorful wine at the full-service bar. In addition to gracing tables with delicious spreads, Primavera's helpful chefs impart their culinary techniques with occasional cooking classes—two-hour demostrations that prep students to prepare light meals, glean understanding of wine pairings, and add realism to imaginary garden parties.
Since 1979, the chefs at Bona Italian Restaurant have been baking pans of lasagna, tossing caesar salads, and piling sub sandwiches with Boar's Head deli meats. They craft Italian comfort food, topping linguine with mussels and clams and crowning pizzas with inventive blends of ingredients such as eggplant, bacon, and gorgonzola cheese. Beyond the plates of veal saltimbocca—cooked with white wine, prosciutto, and mozzarella—in the main dining area, a carefully selected vino menu can be found in the newly added wine bar. In addition to sips of grape-based libations, it offers high-top wooden tables and a flat-screen TV perfect for rolling-pin practice.
Sette Bello Ristorante's chef and owner, Franco Filippone, moved with his family from Palermo, Sicily, when his father decided to open a restaurant in upstate New York. There, Franco learned the ins and outs of the industry before eventually setting out to work in upscale restaurant kitchens throughout Fort Lauderdale. Now, at Sette Bello, he's put his eye for detail and impeccable culinary skills to use—and the results have paid off. The spot has been awarded the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences' Five-Star Diamond Award and two awards of excellence from Wine Spectator magazine. Franco has also been named the official celebrity chef for the inaugural The Moody Blues Cruise, and is featured in 2012 America's Top Restaurant Recipes.
Inside the dining room, elegant cream columns uphold arched walls, and caramel-tinted lighting bathes the white-draped tables in a warm glow. The tables are topped with prawns wrapped in pancetta, pan-fried veal chop Milanese, and jumbo shrimp scampi. Bustling between tables, the wait staff tends to diners' needs, whether they'd like their glasses refilled or their beards fluffed. The New Times even dedicated an entire article to the "truly great service" at Sette Bello, writing that, "The servers here are craftsmen in the same way that the restaurant's owner, Franco Filippone, is a chef."
Sample a wide variety of tasty menu items at Humpys, where New York-style pizza reigns supreme. Munch on a gooey concoction of dough and toppings with a medium margherita ($13.50) or Hawaiian ($13.50) pizza. Hungry mouths may enjoy catching a frisbee of pizza flatbread, which is offered in varieties such as barbecue chicken ($8) and mushroom with caramelized onions ($8). All of Humpys's dough is made fresh daily with a crust crafted from traditional Italian and honey-wheat ingredients, hand-tossed and fire-baked for an extra singe of authenticity. Sandwiches are also available in varieties such as the meatball hero ($7.95), and squealing sweet teeth can be sated by biting into the moist expanse of a fresh-baked jumbo carrot-cake cupcake ($3).