It was more than half a century ago that Kerry Steed's grandparents served the first slice at Generations Pizzeria. Today, Kerry continues the family legacy, doling out specialty pies, freshly made subs, and buttery garlic bread sticks to diners that pass through the bright pizzeria's door. The chefs toss their traditional and gluten-free crusts with gourmet ingredients such as fresh banana peppers, crispy bacon, and premium sausage. Awaiting pies and burgers in the dining room is a leisurely experience, with customers sitting in cushy booths, sipping frosty beers, and watching the game on glimmering flat-screen TVs.
Since 1954, dough-sculpting artisans at LaRosa’s have crafted a menu of delectable Italian specialties using heaps of fresh ingredients and a family recipe. An array of tasty pies awaits hungry visitors, from the double pepperoni ($5.99–$14.99) to the buffalo chicken, which entertains a devoted entourage of black olives, tomatoes, and jalapeños ($6.79–$19.99). Customers can also hire toppings for freelance work on pizzas of their own creation ($4.79–$12.99 plus toppings). Shy meats and veggies hide inside calzones, such as the Philly cheesesteak calzone, which provides a toasted cavern of shelter for sirloin, white cheddar, onions, and stray cheese ($5.99). In addition, LaRosa’s boasts a spectrum of hoagys, salads, and pasta and offers a sweet adieu to finished meals with a dessert of Italian crème cake ($4.89) or cinnamon-sugar dippers ($3.99).
At age 11, while other Jersey kids were playing ball up the block, Tony Aponte was treating his four siblings to pizzas in the family kitchen. More than three decades have passed since those days. Tony has found new digs. He's moved to Ohio to be closer to his three daughters. But he is still crafting pizzas, drawing on those childhood experiences and a greatly expanded palette of toppings and ingredients.
In the pies he makes now, house-made sauce, hand-tossed white or wheat dough, and fistfuls of whole-milk cheese support capicola, genoa salami, grilled peppers, and artichoke hearts. While pulling apart slices, guests at Aponte’s Pizzeria glance up at five flat-screen TVs to check sports scores or see if the anchorman is still wearing their friendship bracelet. Sports photos and team insignias pepper the marinara-red walls, and the tables clatter with plates of subs and baked pastas.
Helmed by owner Freweini “Bella” Andemicael, Cafe Bella's menu rattles off hearty Mediterranean and Italian fare, along with authentic African Eritrean dishes available each Wednesday. Bella’s hummus teams up with pickled red peppers, feta cheese, and a warm pita ($7), and lentil and vegetable soup spices itself with mild curry ($2 for a cup, $4 for a bowl) on the dinner menu. Tortellini packed with bacon, mushrooms, and nutmeg receives a parmesan cream coating ($15), and a juicy fillet mignon ($27) and a plate of scallops paired with spinach, pesto, and goat cheese along with mashed potatoes and blackberry balsamic ($20) fight for space in your stomach.
Freshly cut vegetables, more than 40 toppings and sauces, and delicious handmade doughs decorate the creative menu of Dayton’s Original Pizza Factory, a sister establishment of the popular South Park Tavern. Colorful combinations perch atop the gourmet discs ($8.95 for a nine-inch, $13.95 for a 12-inch, $17.95 for a 14-inch, and $19.95 for a 16-inch). Both breadwinners and fourth-place breadlosers can come out ahead with the Reuben pizza, an open-faced sandwich of corned beef, sauerkraut, cheeses, and Thousand Island dressing, as well as in the Greek gyro pizza, a fat wedding of lamb or chicken meat, fresh tomatoes, feta, and cucumber sauce. Classicists can adorn their gullet with traditional pizzas ($7.95 for a nine-inch, $12.95 for a 12-inch, $16.95 for a 14-inch, and $18.95 for a 16-inch) including the New York cheese, its gorgeous Breadway stage set with oregano and three mezzanine levels of fromage. All pizza patrons receive the option of hand-tossed original dough or 100% whole-wheat crust.
The Anticoli family has piled plates high with homestyle Italian fare made with imported pastas and cheeses, freshly caught shrimp, and fresh vegetables since opening its first restaurant in 1931. Though they have emphasized serving quality Italian cuisine for more than 80 years, they recently decided to focus on creating an authentic Italian experience, renaming the eatery after the family's ancestral Italian home and cultivating an atmosphere reminiscent of a trattoria. Terracotta colors wash over walls hung with pictures of the old country and of the Italian prime minister's jazzercise class, and carved, wooden roman columns support a wine bar festooned with cascading vines.
The Italian priority of bringing together family and friends over good food is echoed throughout cozy red booths where diners dive into spaghetti with hearty meat and romano sauce, herb-griddled pork chops, or hand-dipped spumoni dishes. The revelry continues outside on the breezy back patio, which is open seasonally or whenever the chefs feel the urge to make snow angels.