Cousin Pete had a friendly face and knack for remembering names, while cousin Charles had a sharp eye for details and a head for business. But they both had a taste for good Italian food, so it was only natural they would join forces. That’s how Mangia Pizza Restaurant, with its BYOB approach and a menu of Italian favorites, was born—and with a little help from their years of restaurateur and customer-service experience.
Today, it's not uncommon to see cousin Pete meandering his way around the big booths in the brightly lit space, introducing himself to newcomers, swapping jokes with regulars, and discussing local politics with all the babies. As he bustles about the dining room, his chefs are hard at work in the kitchen tossing crispy Neapolitan and Sicilian-style pies with gourmet ingredients such as buffalo chicken and eggplant rollatini. They also layer crunchy paninis with fresh mozzarella, roasted turkey, and grilled chicken, and fold chicken, veal, and seafood into a time-honored dishes that make Mangia a place for not only attentive service, but for good eats.
Before settling into Coney Island Pizza, the eatery's dough-spinners manned Coney Island Catering, a mobile wood-fired oven that supplied pies for soirees and corporate functions. The team and its tools still hit the road for catering assignments and special events. For the most part, however, the oven remains in house, where it bakes specialty pizzas crowned with roasted clams, pulled pork, and pistachios.
Besides pies, the oven roasts other bistro and pizzeria eats, from organic farm-raised Scottish salmon to hot wings tossed in sriracha lime sauce. Complemented exclusively with wines from the award-winning Ventimiglia Vineyard, feasts can end on sweet notes with housemade desserts, including seasonal cannoli filled with autumnal pumpkin or wintry snowballs.
Circles of fresh mozzarella, whole basil leaves, and fresh slices of tomato rest atop the aptly named fresh mozzarella pie at Frank's Pizza. The aesthetic diverges from Americanized versions of pizza; this pie adheres to the traditional Italian style. But that's not to say Frank's completely shirks American influences. Try the saut?ed sausage, fried calamari, or stuffed pizza for something a bit outside of the traditional, like an Italian ma?tre d' who questions if it is amore.
But if you choose to stick with one of the strikingly authentic Italian eats on Frank's menu, you have many options outside of pizza. Housemade focaccia sandwiches, veggie lasagna, and shrimp scampi present tempting alternatives.
Although the Culinary Institute of America taught Pastabilitys chef and owner Robert Bontatibus how to craft many cuisines, he couldn't help but gravitate to his favorite?Italian. He specializes in those paragons of of Italian-American dining, pizza and pasta. Eight forms of pasta, including gnocchi, tortellini, and linguine, are topped with sauces ranging from a simple blend of garlic and oil to the most savory red clam sauce. For pizza, he draws upon the flavors that are echoed in the Italian entrees elsewhere on the menu. Specialty pies include eggplant parmigiana, shrimp scampi, or baked ziti.
Even though most of the food he makes is Italian, Bontatibus does make room for a few American dishes. He serves up to 12 styles of french fries covered in everything from pizza fixings to buffalo sauce, whereas Italian desserts are supplemented with whoopie pies and fried Oreos, which are better than those from the county fair or that cookie warehouse trying to see the silver lining in its kitchen fire.
Instead of making another pedestrian pie, Pizza 1's chefs put in the effort to hand-stretch crusts, import olive oil, and use Grande cheese, an Italian mozzarella that originates from high-quality dairy farms. This above-the-call effort has made them the most preferred pie in the area—Pizza 1 was selected as 2012’s Best Pizza by readers of the Tri Boro Patch. Their award might also derive from their selection of 36 specialty pies—one for each hour it would take the DMV to make one specialty pie. That selection includes bruschetta, eggplant rollatini, and a Belly Buster with meatballs, sausage, pepperoni, bacon, and veggies. The menu expands far beyond pizza, however, also including hot subs and Angus burgers, as well as gourmet salads and pasta dinners.
Pizza Chefs’ homemade sauce comes from a generations-old family recipe. That doesn’t mean everything else here is traditional, though—in a twist of recipes, you can actually have pasta on top of your pizza, such as in the baked ziti, shrimp alfredo, and macaroni and cheese pizzas. That’s in addition to other uncommon toppings such as fried calamari and shrimp scampi. This creativity with pasta extends to other dishes—for appetizers, there are egg rolls stuffed with mac-n-cheese, too, and you’re free to turn their spaghetti into a Fabio wig.