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.
Bella Luna sits only a short pizza toss from the blue waters of Corpus Christi Bay. Owner Salvatore Colicci––who hails from the Bronx––bakes 22-inch New York-style pies, and he even personally rehabbed the eatery with tomato-red walls and arched porticos. The culinary advice of Sasha Grime has helped craft the traditional Italian menu, which employs delicate wine sauces for chicken and veal and outfits pastas in hearty bolognese. Bella Luna's housemade Italian desserts are also available for takeout or for delivery to those within a 5-mile radius, the same radius of the world’s 53rd largest pizza ever made.
Over classic red-and-white checkered tablecloths, diners dig into thin and crispy New York?style pies, devouring slices decorated with meatballs, olives, and pepperoni. The massive menu is also home to a variety of Italian-influenced dishes, from classic chicken parmigiana to spinach-, feta-, and mozzarella-lined calzones, which turn crispy and golden-brown in the oven.
The chefs at Maggies Pizza & Deli, do Italian double time by making Italy’s favorite dishes as well as naming their sandwiches after famous mob movies including Casino, Goodfellas, and Godfather. The chefs also make their own sauces that cling to pizza crusts, tortellini, and garlic cheese bread.
While the heart of Johnny Carino's menu is rooted in genuine Italian traditions, forward-thinking creativity has birthed what they like to call their signature dishes. Led by executive chef Chris Peitersen, the seasoned kitchen staff blends fresh ingredients along with extra time to create high-quality, spiced Italian preparations. Diners will find entrees such as 16-layer lasagna with made-from-scratch sauce, and pizzas made with home-baked crust. Other signature choices include the spicy shrimp and chicken, baked stuffed mushrooms topped with house lemon basil cream sauce, and tiramisu made from the ground up. Entrees can be paired any selection from Carino's extensive wine list and drink menu.
Anthony Russo, a first-generation Italian, spent years in the kitchens of his parents and other Italian chefs learning authentic Italian recipes for sauces and pastas. He eventually drew on his experience kneading New York?style pizza to open his own chain of coal-fired pizza franchises. Exposed bricks surround the burning embers at the core of the oven, which bakes thin-crust specialty pizzas, such as escargot with pesto, alongside heart-healthy pies with fresh spinach and artichokes. After sliding out golden-crusted pizzas and singed fairy-tale witches, chefs fill ovens with calzones and flatbreads. A full wine list supplies bold cabernets and crisp pinot grigios.