The glowing embers in a rustic brick hearth reach temperature heights of 700 degrees Fahrenheit as they bake pizzas. Once they’ve been adequately roasted, pizzas emerge from brick ovens bubbling and topped with now crisp leaves of basil, soft tomato slices, arugula, and tender chicken. Chefs prepare 15 specialty varietals of pizza using traditional maple- and oak-fired methods that date back to the time when the Ancient Romans invented fire and imparts a toasty crispness to each disc. Pasta noodles mingle with creamy pesto sauce or skirt steak, while slices of foccocia bread ensnare morsels of roasted eggplant, meatballs, or lightly breaded chicken.
Diners can customize pies with à la carte ingredients such as sausage, fresh pineapple, and arugula or opt for the prearranged flavors, which include a ricotta-bedecked bianca pizza and an entree-combining chicken-parmigiana pizza. Four fountain drinks keep bellies happily hydrated, although a diplomatic BYOB policy allows guests to supplement dinners with fermented beverages. Diners can nosh in an all-season garden room, where a vaulted-glass ceiling maintains a pleasant climate through summer, winter, and impending ice ages.
Vibrant murals of an Italian countryside span the walls of Palermo Pizzeria & Restaurant, setting the scene for a dining experience inspired by the region. Lobster tails, grilled steaks, and piles of spaghetti populate plates atop linen tablecloths in the dining room, alongside crispy pizza crusts weighed down by plum tomatoes, Spanish olives, and blue cheese. A wood-hewn bar ensures wine glasses and mugs stay full throughout meals and its attached TV keeps patrons entertained.
Nick’s has burgers. Nick’s has pizzas. Nick’s has omelets, nachos, matzo-ball soup, reubens, ravioli, and barbecue-charcoal beef ribs. Nick’s has, in total, 28 pages of menu stocked with the world’s cuisine. And while Nick’s can surely sate any appetite other than Slash’s appetite for destruction, what it excels at is burgers and pizzas. Some 60 burger varieties—such as the classic Big Nick—sprawl on kaiser-roll buns, whereas some 20 types of pizza slices—such as the decadent mac ‘n’ cheese—join individual and large pies.
Inside Nick’s original location on Broadway, cozy booths, tables, countertops, and walls plastered with celebrity headshots have accrued half a century of charm, keeping true to the aesthetic of the restaurant’s first years. In 2012, Nick’s received a City Council citation to honor its 50-year anniversary, serving as a landmark in owner “Big Nick” Imirziades’s culinary odyssey, which began during his childhood in Athens. There, his mother laid the foundations for his kitchen principles by using high-quality oil in her cooking and making sure every other ingredient followed suit. Today, Nick’s stays true to his early lessons, keeping his ingredients fresh and his meals plentiful.
The dough wizards at Papa John's 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.
Crusts puff into crisp golden circlets around Famous Amadeus' New York–style pizzas, unrolling tendrils of steam around calzones, strombolis, and time-tested Italian dishes. Pastas leap fresh from the colander or disappear into multilayered lasagna and ricotta-stuffed shells after testifying against forks. Marinara-cloaked entrees drive up demand for napkins within the eatery or join delivery drivers on jaunts to diners around the city.
The rounds experts at Bagels & Co. slake breakfast and lunchtime cravings with freshly baked bialys, bagels, and kosher-certified items, including pizza slices and a rotating menu of chef specialties. Guests can slather 13 bagel flavors with traditional or gourmet spreads, such as walnut and raisin cream cheese or flavored tofu. Bagels & Co.'s credibility lies in its impressive spread of quality ingredients—boasting deli-style cheese slices and fresh cuts of salmon—and correct usage of the ampersand.
The pie artists at Freddy & Pepper’s Pizza Pub slather crusts with tomato sauce and gooey mozzarella cheese before piling on meaty and soy-based toppings to create more than two-dozen specialty pizzas. Leaning towers of goat cheese, calamari, and meatballs balance on slices as taste buds battle like Roman gladiators for prime positions on the palate. Soy cheese and whole-wheat crusts pair with soy sausage and pepperoni toppings for a vegetarian-friendly feast, and eggplants nuzzle deep into the saucy groundwork of traditional pastas. Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula finally kicks down Spain’s door to unleash a smattering of empanadas stuffed with ground meat, seafood, and feta cheese.