When Giuseppe and Rita Brusco sailed from Calabria to Ellis Island in 1954, they toted their trove of family recipes along with them. Today, owner Frank Brusco upholds this culinary legacy at Brusco's Italian Restaurant & Pizza. Homestyle sauces are central to their menu: chefs simmer vine-ripened tomatoes with fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, white wine, and butter before ladling the thick, preservative-free marinara atop pastas and Sicilian-style pizzas.
In addition to the authentic cuisine, Brusco's pays homage to its founders’ Italian roots with a trattoria-style dining room. Antique copperware festoons the brick walls, and murals of the Italian countryside treat guests to idyllic representations of rolling foothills populated by free-roaming meatballs.
The sauce painters at this easy-breezy beachside eatery fortify bellies with hearty appetizers and triangular morsels of pizza all through lunch and dinner hours. Diners can nosh on a dough disc featuring the bare essentials—tomato tears and cheese—or enhance their pie with selections from more than 20 toppings (an additional $1.75 each, not included with this Groupon). Customers weary from trying to secretly sew slices back together with needle and tongue can take a quick breather and elegantly lift their pinkies while sipping a well cocktail or glass of house wine. Alternatively, throats may acquire hydration from a bottle of domestic or imported beer or a gulp of the nearby ocean. Groups looking to orally mangle more than a large pizza can also enjoy an order of chicken wings, which arrive at tables accompanied by bleu cheese. If you’re seated inside, affix your eyes to one of Stingers Pizza's 25 TVs, which allow diners to easily catch sporting events and drop the ball during argumentative conversations about paying attention.
Sette Bello Ristorante's chef and owner, Franco Filippone, moved with his family from Palermo, Sicily, when his father decided to open a restaurant in upstate New York. There, Franco learned the ins and outs of the industry before eventually setting out to work in upscale restaurant kitchens throughout Fort Lauderdale. Now, at Sette Bello, he's put his eye for detail and impeccable culinary skills to use—and the results have paid off. The spot has been awarded the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences' Five-Star Diamond Award and two awards of excellence from Wine Spectator magazine. Franco has also been named the official celebrity chef for the inaugural The Moody Blues Cruise, and is featured in 2012 America's Top Restaurant Recipes.
Inside the dining room, elegant cream columns uphold arched walls, and caramel-tinted lighting bathes the white-draped tables in a warm glow. The tables are topped with prawns wrapped in pancetta, pan-fried veal chop Milanese, and jumbo shrimp scampi. Bustling between tables, the wait staff tends to diners' needs, whether they'd like their glasses refilled or their beards fluffed. The New Times even dedicated an entire article to the "truly great service" at Sette Bello, writing that, "The servers here are craftsmen in the same way that the restaurant's owner, Franco Filippone, is a chef."
Flavors of Italy and Peru form a mouthwatering marriage within Nonna’s kitchen where chefs conjure platefuls of both countries’ signature dishes. They entangle homemade pastas with meatballs and sausage, slather marinara over tender slices of veal or eggplant, and sear up thick pork chops and sirloin steaks. On the Peruvian half of menu, the spotlight shines on seafood-bejeweled stir-fries, citrusy ceviches, and hearty chicken and pepper stew. The restaurant also caters to on-the-go diners and proud computer owners with online ordering for pickup and delivery.
A trio of cheerful New Yorkers oversees the pasta purveying at Cucina Orecchio, where Chef Cristian Marquez stuffs a robust menu with classic Italian cuisine until it bursts at the seams. A palate-whetting troupe of appetizers touts New York–style baked clams, which arrive donning a tangy mix of seasonings and zesty Knicks jerseys ($9). Pasta entrees—which are served with a cup of soup or a house salad—range from the smooth and creamy penne alla vodka ($13) to the thick and meaty rigatoni bolognese ($14). Seafarers cast their anchors alongside the seafood fra diavolo with linguini ($16), and meat-seekers occupy their mandibles with daily specials such as the veal marsala ($15). Wash down a plate of authentic Italian eats with splashes of wine by the bottle or glass.
The chefs at Ciao Pasta enlist farmers'-market ingredients, high-quality meats and seafood, and hand-crafted pasta sauces to create a menu of American and Italian favorites. Like a matronly kindergarten teacher, golden-fried-mozzarella morsels with marinara dipping sauce and loaded nachos piled high with spicy beef or chicken, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese, and jalapeños, facilitate friendly sharing. Grilled shrimp, creamy house-made alfredo sauce, and fresh basil beckon to forks from atop a throne of bowtie, penne, wheat penne, or linguini pasta, and roast sirloin with grilled onion and mushrooms comforts bellies better than the promise of a new belt. Sips from the full bar’s lineup of bottled beers and drafts—such as Yuengling Lager ($4.70)—complement fare, and wine and specialty cocktails—such as frozen piña coladas and margaritas ($7)—cosset tongues in a frosty finish.
More than 1,200 miles separate Corelli's Pizza and Pasta from New York City, though you wouldn't know from inside. Chefs Joe and David toss together generously sized New York–style pizzas; their medium pie measures 14 inches across and their extra-large pie measures one standard bigfoot foot: 18 inches. To help branch out from the standard pizza shop offerings, the kitchen staff also prepares pasta, sub sandwiches, and calzones and organizes a wine-tasting club.