Pizza's, flatbreads and calzones baked in a wood stone oven, and a host of other delicious Italian fare combine with European décor and excellent service to make this trattoria a favorite with both locals and visitors alike. Open since 2005, Bella Brava is a "must" for anyone with a hankering for the "real thing" when it comes to Italian cuisine. Pizza dough is made freshly daily and in addition to the traditional – and ever popular – margherita, there are options such as their signature "Hot Sicilian" pizza with molinari pepperoni, hot capicola, Genoa salami, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, asiago, Calabrian chili and oregano. Other tasty choices are the Smoked Eggplant made with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and parmesan, or the Mortadella, made with fresh ricotta, oven dried tomato pesto, asparagus, spinach and mozzarella.
Recommended for Pizza because: It's been a longstanding popular place because of the fresh ingredients, tasty cuisine and friendly service.
Michelle's expert tip: For a refreshing drink try the Strawberry Balsamic Martini, made with fresh strawberries floating in a swirl of sweet balsamic syrup, Ketel One vodka, and Cointreau.
Pan Y Vino – Homey décor and old brick walls with shelves lined with wine bottles set the stage of the dining experience you'll embark on here. Make no mistake, as savvy locals will tell you, this is no ordinary pizza joint! This family-owned favorite located in the historic downtown of Dunedin dishes up brick oven pizza along with other Mediterranean fare and an big selection of starters. Select from an ample pizza menu complimented by an extensive wine list and limited beer selection. For a unique experience try the Amanacheez Favorite, a combination of fig, goat cheese, spinach, mozzarella and basil. It's sure to please even the traditional pizza fans. They even offer a gluten-free and vegan pizza. Staff and hosts are always friendly and accommodating.
Recommended for Pizza because: Not only is Pan Y Vino set in a cozy location, it offers a nice selection of delicious pizzas along with other Mediterranean options.
Michelle's expert tip: Save room for the decadent tiramisu. It's to die for!
Whether you select a slice or two, or opt for the whole pie, Tony's Pizzeria might just be the place for you. Serving Italian food since 1998, they seem to have perfected the art of making New York-style pizza in three different places in the Tampa Bay area. With a choice of more than 15 varieties, there's sure to be something for everyone. Sure, you can get staples like the cheese, Hawaiian or Margherita, but why not expand your palate and dig into one of the specialty pizzas like the Latino Connection with sausage, jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, onions and olives? If that's too spicy for you, go for the Philly Steak and Cheese, which comes with onions, peppers and mushrooms, but no red sauce.
Recommended for Pizza because: Tony's has been drawing discerning pizza-lovers since they opened in 1998. It's legendary!
Michelle's expert tip: Get there early on weekends because it's a popular place.
Since 1974 Paisano's has been drawing people to its casual, laid back venue. The décor isn't fancy, but people go there for the variety of tasty pizzas served here. Aside from the wide variety of Italian specialties, the big draw is the daily "pizza buffet," which offers a wide range of options of pizza along with salad and soup. You can be the master of your own pizza by creating it from the crust on up. Start with thin, thick, gluten-free or thick, pan style dough and take it from there. Sauces range from the ever-popular red sauce, to garlic and olive oil, barbecue, buffalo and alfredo sauces. The variety of toppings you can add to that are endless, allowing you to create the pizza of your dreams.
Recommended for Pizza because: It's a longtime favorite with locals who enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and family-style dining experience.
Michelle's expert tip: Don't miss the "pizza bones," served with a side of garlic butter and meat sauce.
If you're looking for the "real deal" when it comes to authentic Italian cuisine made from scratch with fresh ingredients, this cozy trattoria is the place for you. The Cristino brothers - who happen to have been born in Bari, Italy - have managed to successfully bring Italian specialties to this restaurant since it opened in 2007. A coal oven delivers five different kinds of pizza, for which they are legendary. The dough is made from scratch, they are hand-tossed and you can build your own, if you want specific ingredients. Paninis and pastas also head up the list of favorites and salads and appetizers are bountiful. Desserts are delicious, but the homemade gelato is especially mouth-watering.
Recommended for Pizza because: Created by the Italian-born Cristino brothers, you can be sure that you're getting authentic Italian cuisine.
Michelle's expert tip: Try their quattro fromaggi pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, ricotta, gorgonzola, basil and oregano. It's a winner!
Indoor, outdoor dining and an open kitchen situated in a stylish, contemporary setting make Noble Crust a must-see along your pizza quest. Known for their Italian cooking with a touch of Southern "vibe," you'll savor Italian cuisine as never before. While the list of Italian specialties is ample, they offer a tasty selection of pizzas. The signature, Noble Pig features pepperoni, sweet fennel sausage, spicy soppressata (dry salami), pickled peppers and caramelized onions, blended with fontina and parmesan cheeses and a zesty tomato sauce. Add an egg to that for an extra two dollars, and you have an amazing pizza! Also available is the traditional margherita as well as one made with meatballs, mushrooms and ham. If tomatoes aren't your thing, try the Bianca with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, béchamel, pistachios and pesto. Save room for dessert as there are some sweet temptations on the menu.
Recommended for Pizza because: The setting is chic, the food is authentic and the fresh, locally grown ingredients turn traditional Italian dining into an "event."
Michelle's expert tip: Be sure to try the budino for dessert. It's like a pudding served warm with whipped cream, a cookie crumb crust and salted caramel.
Tucked into a charming old- style Florida house in the historic Kenwood district of St Petersburg, Cappy's Pizzeria is one of the chain's three locations in the Tampa Bay area. Treat yourself to hand-tossed New York and Chicago deep-dish pizzas along with a selection of salads including the popular Greek salad with homemade potato salad and Cappy's secret dressing. Locals swear by The Cappy, a delicious blend of sausage, ham, pepperoni, mushrooms and green peppers. Feel right at home with their self-serve cooler where you can grab your own beer along with a frosty mug. In addition to what's been dubbed "phenomenal" pizza, the staff is friendly and accommodating. Who could ask for more?
Recommended for Pizza because: The atmosphere, the quality of the pizza, the whole package makes it a "must" if you're craving pizza!
Michelle's expert tip: There's indoor-outdoor dining so be sure to get there early if you want to have that option.
This laid-back pizza shop is popular with locals and visitors alike. Fresh, made-to-order pizza offers something for everyone. In addition to their signature Slyce pizza crust, they offer whole wheat and gluten-free pizza dough. Indoor and outdoor dining offers options, depending on the weather. And, if the beach is part of your day, they're located across from it so you can take your pizza to go. A couple of favorites include the Slyce, a combination of pepperoni, green olives and extra mozzarella and the Margherita, made with a red sauce, olive oil, garlic, fresh mozzarella, Roma tomato slices and fresh basil. For a different twist, try the Beach Bird, made with barbecue sauce, chicken, caramelized onions, and a mixture of smoked gouda and mozzarella cheeses sprinkled with parsley. Fine wine, craft beer and signature cocktails compliment the experience.
Recommended for Pizza because: It's a laid-back place serving delicious artisan pizza in a fun atmosphere.
Michael's expert tip: They have live music starting at 5 p.m. so if you want to make it a special night, be sure to get there early.
Opened in 2016, thinking outside of the (pizza) box is what this popular place is all about. Husband and wife team Kelly and Adam Duff conjure up tasty, freshly-made pizzas on the spot. Using an oven stocked with apple, mesquite, oak, cherry and apple woods each pizza is made "with a lot of love." Add to that organic ingredients, a family recipe sour-dough starter with exceptional seasoning - and heavenly pizza is yours to indulge in. Specialty pizzas include the Lover Boy, a spicy blend of home-made meatballs, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses highlighted by caramelized onions. For more of a "loaded baked potato" experience, try Karlin's Beer Garden (named after Kelly's sister), made with homemade beer cheese, mozzarella, bacon and chives. They're open for lunch and dinner Tuesday - Saturday.
Recommended for Pizza because: Everything is made on the premises, from scratch using local organic ingredients.
Michelle's expert tip: This is a small place and good food takes time to create, so just be patient. It's worth the wait! Just plan to get there early.
Handcrafted wood-fired pizza draws savvy locals and visitors alike to this laid-back neighborhood pizza "joint." Opened by Greg Seymour in 2013, he makes the sourdough pizzas himself, from scratch. Using mostly natural, organic, locally sourced ingredients, his pizzas are made with a lot of love. A cozy atmosphere and attentive staff are just added bonuses. Specialty salads, craft beer and an ample wine selection are also featured. The signature SJ pizza combines freshly made tomato sauce, basil, homemade mozzarella, Prosciutto and arugula. For something different, try Eh Mate, created with Chorizo, gorgonzola, arugula, lemon candied walnuts and fig balsamic. The sourdough takes 72 hours to "set," and once they run out, there's no more pizza that day so be sure to go early.
Recommended for Pizza because: This is a very popular place with locals and visitors to the area who come for the freshly made menu items.
Michelle's expert tip: They don't take reservations and weekends are very busy so plan to get there early as it's first come, first served.