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.
Enthralled with the art of pizza-making, a trio of college students opened the first Mellow Mushroom 37 years ago in a former liquor establishment. Popularity bred new locations, doling out stone-baked pizzas sprinkled with unusual ingredients such as broccoli, pineapple, pesto chicken, caramelized onions, provolone cheese, and banana peppers. Chefs express their subconscious hoarding problems by stuffing a host of ingredients inside of calzones and hoagies, whose hearty compositions may be offset by crisp salads. Mellow Mushroom remains open late for night owls and offers catering services to help keep company meetings and divorce parties stress-free.
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.
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 racecar lovers get together to open a pizza place, RPM Pizza is what happens. The eatery keeps it casual—customers order signature stuffed pizzas or wings slathered in sauce at a walk-up counter, and the parking lot's pit crew is clad in flip-flops. To support its "go big or go home" attitude, staff members named pizzas after their favorite sport, with specialty pies including the Checker Flag, sprinkled with pepperoni and sausage, or the Burnout, with jalapeno, honey-habanero chicken, and savory tire marks.
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.