Though Brucci's Pizza owner Bruce Jackson was born in Syracuse, New York, his grandparents hail from Italy, and he grew up feasting on Italian recipes that had been passed down through generations. At his restaurant, the chefs follow the same timeworn recipes as his grandparents when dishing up Italian favorites with a New York–style flair. They whip up lasagna layered with meatballs and italian sausage, grill paninis, and hand-toss housemade dough for pizzas, strombolis, and calzones. Their specialty pies include the Brooklyn—topped with diced tomatoes and fresh basil—and the Syracuse Stuffer—laden with sausage, beef, pepperoni, and ham, as well as green peppers, onions, and mushrooms.
But Brucci's Pizza is more than just an eatery—it's also a gathering place. In addition to weekly specials, the three locations host regular events. The Ponte Vedra and Fruit Cove locations host a Monday kids' night, and the West Beaches location facilitates live music twice a week, played by bands that are not made up of animatronic rodents. The chefs also issue a standing challenge: if any guest can devour a double-thick, 16-inch Fuhgeddaboudit pizza—smothered in seven toppings and gobs of extra cheese—within an hour, it's on the house.
Monkey Jungle Fun Time infuses felicity into amusement seekers and fills empty tummies with bites from an expansive pizza and salad buffet. Within a clean, family-friendly fun factory, an amiable staff provides a lighthearted experience for children of all ages with almost 50 arcade games and mini bowling, great for honing your throw or pretending to be an earth-attacking giant. Workout at the adrenaline- pumping motorized rock climbing wall or gather a group of friends, siblings, or sentient raisons for a sonorous sing-along on the karaoke stage. Junior adventurers can run, jump, and hunt for happiness in the multi-level, soft-play climbing unit, while little ones under four years of age can escape longer limbs in the Pirates Cove, a separate play room. After an afternoon of convivial action, refuel with pizza, salad, and ice cream, or by eating a handful of batteries.
The chefs at Mixx craft an internationally inspired menu of modern classics such as house-made pastas, sushi, and wood-fired pizzas. Start off with the calamari fritti tossed with sundried tomato vinaigrette, basil, and lemon-caper remoulade ($9) before surprising your palate with the stuffed cannelloni fiorentina bursting with ground chicken, veal, besciamella cream, three cheeses, and spring-loaded rubber snakes ($10). House-cured salmon snuggles into a sushi roll with mascarpone cheese and a spicy lemon-caper tartar sauce ($10); the Alexa wood-fired pizza hoists a hefty serving of pesto and goat cheese, bacon, rosemary roasted apples, and caramelized onions ($13).
Though the chefs at Urban Flats spend every day baking gourmet flatbreads in their stone hearth, the task rarely bores them. They keep life interesting by crowning the whole-wheat bases with locally sourced and seasonally rotating ingredients such as curried chicken, breaded eggplant, and diced red peppers. Thankfully, the culinary variation isn’t limited to the flatbreads. Urban Flats also offers a full slate of wines that range from fragrant whites to spicy reds.
When diners at Vinny's Italian Restaurant and NY Pizzeria bite into a slice of hot, cheesy pizza, they can rest assured that they are noshing on the genuine article. That's because the pies here are crafted by former Big Apple residents who know how to calibrate the crust, sauce, and toppings just so. And for those who prefer to sample the entrees of the old country, there are plenty of pasta, veal, and seafood dishes on the menu as well. Deli subs come cold or hot, and 12-inch stromboli get baked over the Statue of Liberty's torch.
The chatter of knives dicing fresh parsley. The baritone murmur of hot oil. Italian fare at Rosina's Pizza comes together in an unexpected symphony that drifts out into the dining room. When pizzas finally reach tables, thick cloaks of toppings flaunt international influences from Greece, Mexico, and the Caribbean, saving diners from the disappointment of asking a paper shredder for their passports back. As glasses laden with beer, wine, and margaritas rise in toasts, the eatery’s caterers rush past with fare destined for parties and meetings.
Orhan Celeno doesn’t need fancy HD televisions or designer décor to run a successful pizzeria. His talents rest upon the thin, crispy crusts of New York–style pizzas, which he tosses by hand at Vino’s Pizza Grill House. Homemade marinara simmers in his kitchen’s pots before dressing pizza dough and Italian pasta dishes such as manicotti and baked ziti. Add-ons such as pepperoni, pineapple, or fresh tomatoes customize pies, and the kitchen also crafts old-world desserts, filling cannoli shells with sweetened cheese and smothering zeppolis with chocolate and powdered sugar.