In the 40 years since the first Hungry Howie's opened, the restaurants' chefs haven't just focused on getting new and inventive toppings. Instead, they have also innovated the their pizzas in other ways, such as creating their eight signature flavors of crust. Crust options include sesame, garlic and herbs, Cajun seasons, or even onion, adding a subtle flavor to custom pizzas. Guests can choose which crust would go best with their mix of the house's 15 toppings, which include options such as bacon, feta cheese, anchovies, and pineapple. In addition to pizzas, chefs also create oven-baked subs and fresh salads to create full Italian meals.
Bella Pizzeria's dexterous dough sculptors cobble together a menu of pizzas and authentic Italian dishes using fine ingredients shipped in from Brooklyn and Italy. Diners can wrestle with their own personal pizza ($6.50) or call upon their local cross-stitch club to take on larger sizes ($8.50–$39.50). Choose from specialty topping combinations such as Meat Lovers or barbecue, or craft your own garnish medleys to demonstrate culinary creativity. Patrons who complement entrees with an order of garlic bread ($3.50–$5.50) can use any leftover garlic bread to pull off the tough feat of making friends on crowded elevators or in a football huddle. The eggplant parmesan of a hero sandwich ($6.50–$18.50) shushes stomach mutters, while a lasagna dinner ($9.50) graces tables briefly before inexplicably transforming into a marinara-stained plate.
Mario Suffi has been in the restaurant industry for more than two decades. That know-how comes in handy at his latest eatery, Mario's Pizza, which is located in a space that has housed Snappy Tomato Pizza and a brontosaurus's bed long before that. In addition to giving the locale a face-lift, Suffi and his kitchen staff have expanded the menu beyond pizza. Case in point: they serve ribs.
Cushioned booths line Pronto Pizza's lengthy, maroon-painted interior, and intricate, gilded molds crown its ceiling, making it resemble an upscale urban culinary destination more than a garden-variety pizza joint. Chefs send rounds of pizza dough into a mammoth oven to bake specialties such as Maria's Pie—layered with eggplant, ricotta, and mozzarella—or baked ziti pizza. The kitchen team also covers plates with chicken marsala, or pasta jambalaya. Live entertainment keeps the venue’s energy level cranked up, and coffee prevents that energy level from going back down.
With its entrees named for New York City landmarks and the decorative fruit dotting its walls and tables, Apples Bar & Grill embraces its name. Pizzas, such as the South Bronx taco and Wall Street White, join salads named for Central Park and Madison Square Garden, alongside Big City chili, Broadway chef salads, and a selection of breakfast items. Beers such as Budweiser—which is what the Dutch called Battery Park—pour from taps behind the pennant-strewn bar, complementing cheese fries and crab poppers during special events such as karaoke nights and live performances from local musicians.
PizzaVito’s founder, Vito DiBartolo, has been baking no-nonsense New York–style pies for more than 40 years. From his first pizzeria in Queens to his expansive chain in the South, Vito’s been slipping a slice of family zest inside every made-to-order creation. Slices come in one size (giant) and range in composition from simple cheese to more complex and meatier varieties. The Bronx Bomber ($14.95/large) sends mozzarella, pepperoni, ham, and bacon flying onto a soft spread of the Vito family’s century-old red-sauce recipe. Other classic New York–style eats include melty and crispy calzones ($5.75) and spicy buffalo wings ($7.95 for 10).