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.
The chefs at Gozzetti's Pizzeria toss thin-crust New York–style pizzas, covering each with sauce imported from Italy and combinations of more than 40 toppings. Specialty pies include the Ferrari, with buffalo chicken and jalapeños, and the Mona Lisa, with pesto, grilled chicken, and tomatoes sliced into half-smiles. Gozzetti's signature dish is the Zettiboli, a kind of pizza wrap stuffed with meatballs, vegetables, and a trio of cheeses. Calzones, wings, and subs are available, too, whether you eat in, carry out, or ask for catering.
DoubleDave's Pizzaworks serves up an assortment of hearty, hand-tossed pizzas, Peproni rolls, stromboli, and more. Choose a pie from DoubleDave's selection of specialty pizzas ($19.99 for an 18", $15.99 for a 15", and $12.99 for a 12”)—the buffalo-chicken pizza outfits its surface area in mozzarella, chicken strips, wing sauce, and ranch dressing, while the duplicitous Dave's Fave offers carnivore-coaxing meatball and sausage or veggie-baiting tomato, garlic, and spinach variations on its olive oil, garlic, and oregano sauce base. Do-it-yourselfers are welcome to design their own pies ($10.99 for a 15", plus $1.59 per topping), choosing size, toppings, and the type of crust, and diners wishing to cram their cuisine into claustrophobic confines can opt for a half-dozen Peproni rolls ($7.99), with pepperoni and cheese wrapped into dough. Or escape the boot-shaped grip of the Mediterranean with a Philly cheesesteak stromboli ($10.99 for large, $5.99 for small).
Gatti's Pizza paints its signature crust of twice-risen dough with sauce made from a 40-year-old recipe passed down by the founder, Colonel Eure, who started the pie hub's first location in 1969. Real cheeses combine into a unique, smoky blend, forming a flavorful foundation dotted with toppings such as spicy italian sausage, pineapple, pepperoni, and shredded napkins. The menu trots out 10 specialty pies—including the bacon double cheeseburger, the Gatti's Deluxe, and the Superoni, which offers extra helpings of smoked provolone and pepperoni—as well as desserts in the form of cinnamon sticks and dutch apple treat pizzas.
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.
Pizza Milano's kitchen team concocts flavorful casual fare, including inventive pizza pies made with New York–style pesto dough and a red-wine-based marinara sauce. In the Milano cheese sticks, a trio of cheeses infiltrates the New York–style dough, along with their allies, bacon and jalapenos, softening the ground for a coup by marinara or garlic-butter sauce ($8.99). Like rival twins, cheese-stuffed italian meatballs appear in two iterations—ensconced in a parmesan-encrusted hoagie with garlic butter and marinara ($4.99) or nestled atop a bed of pasta and immersed in sauce ($8.99). Specialty pizzas surprise stomachs with creative combinations, such as the refreshing Caribbean pizza, a circular island with flaky-crust shores and an inner terrain of fajita chicken, sweet mango, and fresh pineapple, where a conga line of red onions traipses across a three-cheese blend ($11.99–$15.49). Pizza Milano also decorates plates with pasta creations such as the chicken alfredo, which unites a four-cheese, white-wine-reduced alfredo sauce with parmesan-festooned chicken ($8.99).