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.
The Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake on Atlantic Blvd is a build-your-own pizza joint, where intrepid eaters can combine toppings at will, before finishing off the pies at home. The popular franchise concept provides fresh handmade pizza dough, creamy mozzarella, sliced vegetables and butcher-quality meat toppings, allowing you to create your own dinnertime masterpiece. Inside, the small shop is festive and bright, with yellow counters, red walls, warm wood floors and a gleaming glass counter. The menu includes a variety of classic and inventive pizzas for anyone feeling uninspired: regular cheese, Hawaiian, a low-fat chicken bacon artichoke delight and a few stuffed pizza selections. This is carry-out pizza at its most unique, and a fresh way to grab a do-it-yourself pie.
Marco's Pizza founder Pasquale "Pat" Gianmarco began helping out at his family’s pizzeria when he was just a boy. The eatery provided a taste of home to the Gianmarco clan, who moved to the United States from Italy when Pat was 9 years old. Together with his father, young Pat learned the secrets to creating exceptional pizza sauce: three types of vine-ripened tomatoes and spices that can only be imported from Italy or the moon.
The perfected sauce recipe continues to guide Pat’s kitchen operations—although, these days he has considerably more help. Marco's Pizza has 350 locations in more than half the states as well as in the Bahamas, each store tossing fresh pizza dough daily before sprinkling on a trio of fresh, never-frozen cheeses.
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.
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).
Mellow Mushroom, in the Tinseltown shopping Center on Jacksonville’s south side, is a psychedelic wonder that overflows with twisty overhead pipes, murals of colorful mushrooms, oak flooring, deep burgundy booths and giant mushroom sculptures. Specialty pizzas are the order of the day here, with options like the Magical Mystery Tour and the Kosmic Karma, served with sun-dried tomatoes, feta and a pesto swirl. Customers can also build their own pizzas, or opt for salads, calzones and hoagies, while fungi favorites like mushroom soup and a stuffed Portobello stay true to theme. Mellow Mushroom even caters to the vegetarian and vegan with vegan cheese, tempeh and tofu pizzas and salads, plus a gluten-free option by request.