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.
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.
Tommaso's Italian Grill warms bellies with a menu of American favorites and pizzas concocted from house-made dough and freshly made sauces. The chefs hand-toss dough ($7+ for cheese and one topping) and artfully decorate disks with jalapeño, hamburger, and spinach ($1.25+/topping) before hanging them on the back diners' chairs. Between bites of hot wings ($5.99 for seven), guests can solicit investment advice from a collection of sage bobbleheads on a windowsill or catch reflections of a double meat burger ($6.99) on the surface of a hanging disco ball. Augment a selection of pastas ($7.99+) with homemade sauces—such as simple garlic and olive oil or a protein-rich meat sauce—and top dishes off with a pair of meatballs ($2) or a sextet of shrimp ($4).
The menu at Fred's Italian Corner unfolds to reveal a wide range of savory selections for lunch and dinner. Start the evening with antipasti such as battered and fried calamari ($9.49) and hearty Italian sausages swimming in grilled bell peppers and onions ($7.99). Wash down round one with a classic cup of minestrone soup ($3.99), and you'll be asking for "amore," which is Italian slang for napkins. Dinner entrees include classic lasagna layered with ricotta and baked to golden goodness ($10.99) and generously compiled seafood risotto ($24.99).
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.
Soft Italian music permeates Pepino’s dark crimson walls and cloth-clad tables, tickling diners' ears as they share conversation over cheesy baked-pasta dishes and tender morsels of veal or sautéed chicken. Head chef Pepe personally prepares each of these dishes to order, drawing from his 20 years of experience working at Italian restaurants and studying the facial features of Roberto Benigni. Pepe forges an edible union between Northern and Southern Italian traditions, pleasing hungry patrons with neapolitan shrimp dishes and baked lasagnas alongside creamy risottos and rich spaghetti Bolognese.