Framed black-and-white pictures fill the lemon-yellow and terra-cotta-red walls in Fratelli's Restaurant, evoking the casual ambiance of a family dining room beside the Mediterranean. The chefs demonstrate a similar commitment to homestyle comfort by faithfully re-creating familiar Italian-American staples. Ricotta-stuffed shells bake beneath a layer of mozzarella and marinara, and marsala sauce adds an extra dose of flavor to sautéed veal loin, chicken breast, or sliced rib-eye steak. Occasional maritime influences also work their way into the menu, as in the case of the housemade crab cakes and the shrimp or scallops in a spicy red sauce made with magma-marinated peppers.
The aliment artisans at the family-owned New York Pizza Company handcraft a menu of cheesy pies, sandwiches, calzones, and salads for midday and evening escapes to the Big Apple. Dough spinners knead and toss resilient pizza bases, which are then cooked to a customizable level of crispiness in a fiery stone oven; pizza is available with either original hand-tossed or thin crust. Mozzarella, italian herbs, and scratch-made sauce festoon the famous cheese pie ($5.99–$13.99), while italian sausage and pepperoni form a meat mosaic on The Deluxe pie ($7.99–$19.99), aptly enjoyed on-site or glued to a bedroom ceiling in lieu of glow-in-the-dark stars. Fresh calzones ($7.99–$8.99) buttress the bill of fare along with hero sandwiches such as the italian hero ($7.99), which is served hot or cold to assuage crippling fears of room temperature.
When racecar lovers get together to open a pizza place, RPM Pizza is what happens. The eatery keeps it casual—customers order signature stuffed pizzas or wings slathered in sauce at a walk-up counter, and the parking lot's pit crew is clad in flip-flops. To support its "go big or go home" attitude, staff members named pizzas after their favorite sport, with specialty pies including the Checker Flag, sprinkled with pepperoni and sausage, or the Burnout, with jalapeno, honey-habanero chicken, and savory tire marks.
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.
Inside Giuliano's Italian Restaurant, George Gjergj and Leonard Gjergji's family recipes guide them as they stuff shells with ricotta cheese, sauté shrimp in homemade marinara sauce, and drizzle merlot reduction onto char-grilled filet mignon. Specialty pizzas marry ingredients such as grilled chicken and pesto or sliced steak and sautéed onions. A bottomless lunch buffet brims with slices of pizza like the description of a third grader’s dream job, and calzones slice open to reveal ricotta and ham.
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.
Enthralled with the art of pizza-making, a trio of college students opened the first Mellow Mushroom 37 years ago in a former liquor establishment. Popularity bred new locations, doling out stone-baked pizzas sprinkled with unusual ingredients such as broccoli, pineapple, pesto chicken, caramelized onions, provolone cheese, and banana peppers. Chefs express their subconscious hoarding problems by stuffing a host of ingredients inside of calzones and hoagies, whose hearty compositions may be offset by crisp salads. Mellow Mushroom remains open late for night owls and offers catering services to help keep company meetings and divorce parties stress-free.