“Mom would start the sauce at daybreak,” Mike explains. “Before you knew it, the entire family was in the kitchen – my brother and I cutting and chopping ingredients, while my father rolled out homemade meatballs.”
With memories of food and family as his inspiration, Mike opened Libretto’s Pizzeria and Italian Kitchen in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan ten years ago, where it continues to thrive as a neighborhood favorite for pizza and classic Italian fare. His next two locations were a little further south - like, say, CHARLOTTE NC - my "kind of" adopted hometown!
They are next door to the new nightclub "Suite" on what I call Maternity Row - because there are like three maternity shops right there. I guess that's a good combo - shop for maternity clothes then head over to Libretto's for some Baked Ziti!
My mouth is watering just thinking about that Ziti - and the Penne alla Vodka - and the Chicken Parm - and of course - the star of the show (in my book) - the PIZZAS. Thin, crisp crust, great sauces and topping varieties, not too greasy.
They are doing pizza right over there. Granted, they are cooking with stone-lined gas ovens, not wood, but as Mike pointed out, once those ovens get a little seasoned they will be imparting even more flavor to the already great crust.
I'm not Italian, and I didn't grow up in or around NYC, so I'm not one to judge whether this is the best, most authentic Italian food in these parts, but my friends who ARE, like Jodi over at Eat Jax, do seem to agree that this place makes them very, very happy!
Libretto’s hours are 11 a.m. until midnight Sunday through Wednesday. On Thursday nights they are open until 2 am, and on Friday and Saturdays they will serve up pizza to the ravenous hordes pouring out of the surrounding night clubs until 3 am.
Mike's Mama would be proud of the crew in Jacksonville. They are dishing up third generation family-style Italian classics like Penne alla Vodka, Spaghetti Bolognese, Chicken Parmigiana, Meatballs (out of this WORLD good, as my mom would say) and Dan-the-Man's favorite Sausage and Peppers, Pizzas, Calzones, Calamari, and some bangin' desserts - including "Homemade" Tira Misu and the best Cannoli I've tasted in recent memory. Check them out for lunch or dinner while you're finishing your holiday shopping!
Authentic NYC Pizza and Italian Kitchen
St Johns Town Center
4880 Big Island Drive, Suite 1
Jacksonville, FL 32246www.librettospizzeria.com