Some of New York's most familiar faces have been spotted enjoying Umberto's award-winning pizza. Rudy Giuliani. Eli Manning. Victor Cruz. The Statue of Liberty whenever a lightning storm reanimates her. There are more complex entrees as well—including seafood marinara with clams, scungilli, mussels, lobster, and calamari—but the crown jewel of the menu remains the specialty pizzas strewn with authentically Italian toppings such as meatballs and broccoli rabe.
An uber-extensive menu of Italy’s favorite dishes are recreated day after day inside Papa Louie’s Pizzeria. Piles of penne and spaghetti pair with fresh italian bread ready to be dunked into a medley of sauces for their own Rorschach test. Chicken, eggplant, and veal change costumes with a marsala, parmigiana, and francaise dressing. The staff bakes 15 specialty pizzas that come in circles or squares, just like the schoolwork given to kindergartners and the most advanced babies. Heros sandwiches are chockfull of baked eggplant, buffalo chicken, and Nani’s famous meatballs. The catering leg of Papa Louie’s Pizzeria feeds partygoers at myriad celebrations: graduations, birthdays, and surprise spring-cleaning parties.
High ceilings with exposed piping lend a modern vibe to Toro Pazzo and serve as a foil to a menu of time-tested Italian dishes. Executive chef Alan Pucci, a native of Lucca, Italy, draws upon an array of Italian meats such as prosciutto and sopressata as well as olives, grilled artichoke hearts, and fontina, gorgonzola, and pecorino cheeses. In the bustling kitchen, the crew rolls dough into potato gnocchi and fresh rigatoni, which fill pasta dishes and sate diners before trips to the National Dry Macaroni Card Museum. Curlicues of steam unfurl from veal scallopini with fresh sage and prosciutto and pistachio-encrusted salmon in a lemon beurre blanc.
Behind Toro Pazzo's bar, an indoor waterfall trickles as mixologists concoct dessert cocktails such as vodka-infused root-beer floats or birthday-cake martinis with sprinkle-encrusted rims. Brimming with bottles imported from Sardinia and Tuscany, the wine list offers pairing for any dish, and on some evenings live bands fill the eatery with lilting guitar strains.
Despite the promise of pizza implicit in its name, mr.Pies' hidden gem—at least according to customers—actually lies in the menu's appetizer section. Doused in fiery buffalo sauce, served with blue cheese for dipping, and offset by crunchy celery, the buffalo wings draw a comparable amount of eaters as the pizza. Don't fret if you can't choose between the two—you can get buffalo chicken scattered right across your pie. Or skip wings and pizza all together, and dig into a traditional Italian pasta dish instead.
Calda Pizzeria & Restaurant’s extensive menu of pizzas, piles of pasta, and burgers parades past gleaming tables flaunting time-tested Italian flavors. Diners can share 18-inch chicken-club pizzas ($21.95) decorated with produce, bacon, and ranch dressing, or guard their own personal-size eggplant-and-ricotta pies ($9.95) from herbivorous velociraptors. The Pizzeria burger ($9.95) merges the best of both worlds by draping a half-pound slab of Angus beef in homemade tomato sauce and a mantle of melted mozzarella. Linguine fruti di mare ($17.95) lets a school of mussels, calamari, and shrimp play Marco Polo in a pool of marinara sauce, and california penne with sun-dried tomatoes, grilled chicken, and broccoli spears ($12.95) lobs crisp fistfuls of veggies like a farmer on a Carnival float. The Levittown eatery features soft lighting and a row of burnt-sienna stools, and windows at the Hicksville establishment admit cascades of natural light.
For Anthony and Domenico Sacramone, cooking is about passion and tradition. The two brothers opened Sacramone's Restaurant to share the recipes and techniques passed down through the family, from their grandmother's kitchen in Abruzzo, Italy, to their mother's kitchen in the United States. Many of the dishes on their classic Italian menu were once treasured secrets of their mother, Maddalena, and they can now be savored nightly by patrons. Entrees include traditional preparations of veal, chicken, and eggplant, and a coal oven produces blistering pizzas made with housemade mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes from Italy. Diners can also add Mama's famous meatballs and sausages to any dish for an extra-meaty meal.
On the façade of Buongusto PieSanos hangs a neon-sculpted slice of pizza, its tip sagging under the weight of cheese, toppings, and the softness of hand-tossed dough. It's a fair of depiction of one of the restaurant's signature offerings—hearty Italian-style pies topped with ingredients including eggplant, baked ziti, or chicken parmigiana. Classic pastas and sandwiches join their circular brethren, and gluten-free and whole-wheat pasta options are available for diners with gluten sensitivity or investments tied up in wheat futures.