Inside Original Napoli Italian Restaurant by Papa Zack's bustling kitchen, a team of talented chefs craft house-made pasta before dousing noodles in meat, marinara, alfredo, and clam sauces. This kitchen architects the eatery's "what," but the staff's "how" involves constant, family-friendly friendliness. The culinary experts give chicken the royal treatment, dressing it up in a variety of dishes, including marsala, piccata, parmigiana, and rollatini. Sandwiches and pizza in two crusts round out the Italian-centric menu. The catering leg of the business feeds multicourse meals for at least 10 people or 5 people saving half their meal for their fallout shelter.
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.
With parents hailing from Sicily and Naples, Anthony Russo enjoyed an Italian upbringing. By age 12, he spent much of his time in the kitchen, learning to prepare Old World recipes with his family and family friends. And from the flurry of Italian phrases and conversation, one quote of his father's stuck with him most: "If you can't make it fresh, don't serve it!"
Several decades later, Anthony has hand-tossed his own Italian restaurant franchise and, true to his father's words, employs fresh ingredients in the same family recipes that were passed down to him. Amid exposed brick and walls the warm hue of marinara, skilled chefs craft New York–style brick-oven pizzas with toppings such as spinach, sundried tomatoes, and capers. Servers stand ready to answer questions about the restaurant’s wine lists, letting guests know which wines pair best with the Pizzotto sandwich or whether pinot noir can really turn dogs invisible.
The Russo family moved from Italy to New York in 1964, and from New York to Texas in 1978, carrying with them time-honored culinary techniques imported straight from the old country. Anthony Russo has worked side by side with family members and Italian chefs since the age of 12, learning to prepares salads, pastas, and pizzas from only the freshest of ingredients. Anthony's love for his family's cooking grew into a lucrative business, with Russo's Coal Fired Italian Kitchen restaurants and Russo's New York Pizzerias popping up all over the American South.
Like a cookie decorated with Lady Liberty's Social Security Number, Russo's pizza is an edible souvenir of the Big Apple, introducing palates to the thin, crispy brick-oven pies that helped make New York cuisine world famous. In between bites of basil-, anchovy-, and meatball-crowned pizzas, diners feast on baked ziti, lobster ravioli, and tortellini carbonara, as well as oven-cooked flatbread sandwiches and toasted calzones.
The tempting and decidedly not-fast-food aromas of sizzling gaucho-style meats, mozzarella, and Brazilian catupiry cheese emanate from Friend’s Pizzeria’s brick oven. The pizzeria’s chefs deftly combine Italian and Brazilian influences with a menu of more than 20 gourmet pizzas. In addition to traditional pies, Friend’s whips up its specialty fusion pizzas, which blend Latin American flavors such as shrimp, green olives, or tangy and soft catupiry cheese. Towering Brazilian Monster burgers challenge diners and tightly fastened bow ties to accommodate their hefty portions of sirloin steak, potato skins, and eggs. After placing orders at a walk-up counter, diners nosh in a dining room festooned with Brazilian- and Italian-flag prints, line drawings of city scenes, and patriotic green and yellow walls.
Gatti's Pizza paints its signature crust of twice-risen dough with sauce made from a 40-year-old recipe passed down by the founder, Colonel Eure, who started the pie hub's first location in 1969. Real cheeses combine into a unique, smoky blend, forming a flavorful foundation dotted with toppings such as spicy italian sausage, pineapple, pepperoni, and shredded napkins. The menu trots out 10 specialty pies—including the bacon double cheeseburger, the Gatti's Deluxe, and the Superoni, which offers extra helpings of smoked provolone and pepperoni—as well as desserts in the form of cinnamon sticks and dutch apple treat pizzas.