In the mines of northeastern Pennsylvania, workers heave loads of clean-burning anthracite coal and ship them to businesses such as Coal Fire, where chefs scoop the same coal into their 900-degree ovens to bake pizzas and wings. Before baking the pies, the chefs hand-toss the aged dough, then cover it with their signature sauce and thick, house-made mozzarella cheese, as well as toppings such as sun-dried tomatoes and pepperoni procured from local merchants. Outside the kitchen, hardwood floors run past the warm, exposed brick of the ovens while servers slide across the polished floorboards, delivering platters of steaming pizzas and frosty drinks from the full bar.
Lucia’s Italian Ristorante is a team effort by the Impellizzeri family, which is headed up by native Sicilian Tino. At the feet of his Italian mother and a father who was a chef by trade, Tino mastered his family's recipes, which he now showcases on Lucia's menu. Tantalizing selections include housemade pizza, pasta, and from-scratch sauces. Many of the restaurant's pasta dishes and gourmet pizzas, including the chicken ranch, can be made in the kitchen without the use of gluten or blaring disco music. Chefs enable authentic noshing at home by freezing dinner entrees, pizzas, and sauces for customers to enjoy around their family dinner tables or crypts.
Voted one of the top-10 best pizza places in DC in radio station WTOP's online poll, The Dons' Wood-Fired Pizza hand-tosses each pie before slathering it with fresh ingredients and baking it to a melted, golden brown. Divvy up slices of the The Dons' Original Offer pizza to practice geometry homework while sating appetites with tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmigiano, romano, and fresh basil ($9.99/medium, $14.99/family size). Or try the Lucky Luciano, which features roasted rosemary chicken, portabella mushrooms, and roasted red peppers tossed on a doughy masterpiece, topped with a bevy of cheese in the shape of the notorious mobster's tommy gun ($12.99/medium, $18.99/family size).
Geppetto Restaurant opened in 1977, quickly perfuming its surroundings with the rich scents of housemade Italian food. Hints of roasting garlic, simmering tomatoes, and bubbling cheese still hang in the air, conjuring images of the cooks hard at work in the kitchen, spreading spicy sauce across inch-thick sicilian pizzas and laying steamed Prince Edward mussels on plates of housemade spaghetti. Overall, the menu takes a slightly Californian approach to Italian cuisine, as evidenced by its sautéed chicken and artichokes entree as well as its rich ricotta pies that are dusted with toasted almonds. Another nod to the West Coast is the eatery’s extensive wine list, which tallies more than 150 different bottles, 70 percent of which hail from the Golden State’s 24-karat gold soil.
Rocco's Italian Restaurant delights diners with family-style Italian cuisine, created with closely guarded secret sauce recipes. The menu highlights the restaurant’s rich lasagna, a medley of melted cheese and freshly made meat sauce spread across four layers of pasta like a long-limbed meatball taking a nap ($14.95). Large sautéed shrimp cozy up to green peppers, mushrooms, and marinara sauce on a wonton bed of linguine in the shrimp cacciatore ($18.95), and thin-crust or deep-dish pizza comes in varieties such as the Pope's Blessing, a pious bouquet of seasoned meats with mushrooms, onions, and black olives ($11.95+). Rocco's also serves up savory subs and burgers ($6.95+) for a handheld meal safe for white shirts and freshly polished commedia dell’arte masks.
When researchers began excavations of the archeological site at Pompeii, they found well-preserved brick ovens in the ash. It is believed that with a little tune up, they could work again today. Emilio’s Brick Oven Pizza brings this time-tested Italian cooking technique to the current day with their homemade brick oven pizzas. Fresh ingredients add flavors to their pies, such as “the Dorian” topped with fresh mozzarella, spinach, squash, portabella mushrooms and feta cheese. But pizza isn’t their only specialty. The menu is stocked with Italian mainstays such as cheesy calzones, fresh mozzarella salads drizzled in balsamic dressing, and tiramisu.
Jiffy Shoppes owner George Agouridis continues his family's 30-year legacy of good eats, treating bellies to a menu loaded with 23 subs, fresh pizzas, fried pickles, and breakfast sandwiches accented by his mother's specialty Greek dishes. Dining pairs devise new twists on a traditional favorite by diving into the gyro platter's appetizing display, rolling greek salad into thin slices of lamb or dipping crisp fries into the house's special tzatziki sauce. Jewel-toned glasses of red or white wine crown the meal, and may incite toasts to good company or the health of a newborn mayor.