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.
Papa John's has been popping out perfectly personalized pies 'round the clock for the past 25 years, fleshing out its lineup of specialty pizzas with a munificent menu featuring an array of classic and specialty pizzas. Traditionalists of Italian fare can indulge in the Spicy Italian with pepperoni, sausage, and invisible meat. More progressive pie enthusiasts may select the Hawaiian BBQ Chicken ($15.99), or go all-out and get The Works, a top-heavy combination of pepperoni, ham, spicy Italian sausage, fresh-sliced onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and ripe black olives ($15.99). Like a bangin’ club or especially bangin’ fireplace store, Papa John's stays open late, making it an opportune eatery for impromptu pajama jams and uncontrollable sleep-feasting.
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.