An uber-extensive menu of Italy’s favorite dishes are recreated day after day inside Papa Louie’s Pizzeria. Piles of penne and spaghetti pair with fresh italian bread ready to be dunked into a medley of sauces for their own Rorschach test. Chicken, eggplant, and veal change costumes with a marsala, parmigiana, and francaise dressing. The staff bakes 15 specialty pizzas that come in circles or squares, just like the schoolwork given to kindergartners and the most advanced babies. Heros sandwiches are chockfull of baked eggplant, buffalo chicken, and Nani’s famous meatballs. The catering leg of Papa Louie’s Pizzeria feeds partygoers at myriad celebrations: graduations, birthdays, and surprise spring-cleaning parties.
On the façade of Buongusto PieSanos hangs a neon-sculpted slice of pizza, its tip sagging under the weight of cheese, toppings, and the softness of hand-tossed dough. It's a fair of depiction of one of the restaurant's signature offerings—hearty Italian-style pies topped with ingredients including eggplant, baked ziti, or chicken parmigiana. Classic pastas and sandwiches join their circular brethren, and gluten-free and whole-wheat pasta options are available for diners with gluten sensitivity or investments tied up in wheat futures.
Patsy Grimaldi wasn’t like other boys his age. While his friends busied themselves playing baseball and balancing checkbooks, Patsy studied pizza-making under the tutelage of his uncle Patsy Lancieri. By the time Grimaldi was old enough to open a pizzeria of his own, he had perfected a recipe for fragrant tomato sauce and mastered the art of baking ultra-crispy crusts. As word of his pizza-making talents spread across New York, Patsy’s pizzeria attracted long lines and a variety of celebrity devotees including Bill Cosby, Bob Costas, and Frank Sinatra. Allegedly, Sinatra was so impressed by Patsy’s brick-oven pies that he regularly called in orders from his place in Vegas.
Today, Grimaldi’s Pizzerias have sprouted up across the country and earned accolades from Time magazine and Lonely Planet. Chefs continue to shower thin crusts in Pasty’s secret sauce along with handmade mozzarella and fresh toppings. They bake the pizzas in coal-fired brick ovens, faithfully following the tradition started by uncle Lancieri more than 80 years ago. Diners enjoy pies and brews in casual dining rooms where red-checkered tablecloths cover tables and NYC-inspired artwork decorates walls.
Calda Pizzeria & Restaurant’s extensive menu of pizzas, piles of pasta, and burgers parades past gleaming tables flaunting time-tested Italian flavors. Diners can share 18-inch chicken-club pizzas ($21.95) decorated with produce, bacon, and ranch dressing, or guard their own personal-size eggplant-and-ricotta pies ($9.95) from herbivorous velociraptors. The Pizzeria burger ($9.95) merges the best of both worlds by draping a half-pound slab of Angus beef in homemade tomato sauce and a mantle of melted mozzarella. Linguine fruti di mare ($17.95) lets a school of mussels, calamari, and shrimp play Marco Polo in a pool of marinara sauce, and california penne with sun-dried tomatoes, grilled chicken, and broccoli spears ($12.95) lobs crisp fistfuls of veggies like a farmer on a Carnival float. The Levittown eatery features soft lighting and a row of burnt-sienna stools, and windows at the Hicksville establishment admit cascades of natural light.
Some of New York's most familiar faces have been spotted enjoying Umberto's award-winning pizza. Rudy Giuliani. Eli Manning. Victor Cruz. The Statue of Liberty whenever a lightning storm reanimates her. There are more complex entrees as well—including seafood marinara with clams, scungilli, mussels, lobster, and calamari—but the crown jewel of the menu remains the specialty pizzas strewn with authentically Italian toppings such as meatballs and broccoli rabe.