Photo by Michelle Gillan Larkin
A spinoff of Pizza & Brew restaurant in Scarsdale, the eatery by John Racanelli brings classic Italian American fare to Yonkers.
In launching the second spin-off of his father’s longstanding and popular Pizza & Brew restaurant, John Racanelli set out to create an “approachable Italian American eatery that would be accessible to all.” In other words: “Not so much a place to dine but a place to eat,” explains Racanelli of First Generation Hospitality, which has owned and operated Scarsdale’s Pizza & Brew since 1974, plus the more recent Via Forno Wood Fired Pizza & Vinoteca, also in Scarsdale, and now, Public Pizza Italian Restaurant & Bar in Yonkers’ Ridge Hill. With traditional, expected Italian comfort classics served side by side with not-so-expected, standard American fare “simply prepared with quality ingredients in oversized portions,” Racanelli says, “this is a place where you could eat every day.”
Public Pizza opened in mid-February but closed a month later, when COVID shuttered Ridge Hill. An early-July second grand opening, of sorts, allowed another opportunity to showcase a vibe that is distinctly upscale and up-to-the-minute, with an unmistakable down-home, laid-back feel. “The range of colors in the interior is to convey a feeling of modernism,” says Racanelli, “with the comfort and familiarity you get from a booth.” Undoubtedly, a nostalgic nod to his dad’s original concept.
Such a uniquely blended atmosphere pairs well with a menu that mixes up traditional Italian favorites, like New York-style pizza, fried calamari, ricotta-dolloped meatballs and spaghetti, chicken parm, and mountainous zuppa di pesce, with an elevated burger on a brioche bun with fried egg, avocado, and sweet potato fries; spicy mango wings, strip steak, paninis, and inventive salads. A glass of Chianti or, more likely for the hip locale, a seasonal craft cocktail washes it all down. “So many people are cooking less and less these days; we wanted to create an extensive menu you could enjoy three times a week and never get bored,” Racanelli says.
The bulk (90%) of the offerings, including appetizers and sandwiches, are served solo or family-style, and although the tiramisu (house-made, daily) is for one, it can be easily shared by three. “Homestyle Italian American cooking and eating, that’s the way I was raised,” says Racanelli, “and that’s what I want to bring to the Ridge Hill community.”
Public Pizza Italian Restaurant & Bar
193 Market St, Ridge Hill