By Shannon Edinger
A local pizzeria invites customers to enjoy the taste of Italy just west of the Shops at Wiregrass.
Pizza Mania, located at 1734 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in the west corner of the Publix plaza, has been open for eight years and is family-owned. Antonio Parascandola opened the restaurant because he wanted to share his passion for authentic Italian food with others.
Parascandola, 33, was born in Naples, Italy and moved to New Jersey at the age of 20. He moved to Florida five years later and opened Pizza Mania.
“Pizza and Italian food is part of our family,” Parascandola said. “Some of our recipes date back 56 years to my grandmother’s time.” Parascandola’s father, Ray, has been in the business for 45 years.
Pizza Mania makes hand-tossed pizzas with fresh ingredients including mozzarella, ricotta, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, spinach, garlic, basil, mushrooms, onions, and peppers.
One of their specialty gourmet pizzas, the pizza Italiana, is a customer favorite. It is a white pizza with spinach, tomatoes, and fresh garlic that shows off the colors of the Italian flag. Pizza prices range from $5.95 to $20.95.
Other menu items include calzones, soups and salads, pastas, and Italian desserts such as Tiramisu and Cannoli.
Parascandola says Pizza Mania is busiest on Friday nights. They do not serve alcohol or deliver orders, but they do cater events. “We’ve catered two weddings for over 100 guests, and we cater MetLife twice a year, serving thousands of employees,” Parascandola said. “Everything always runs smoothly.”
Last November, Parascandola and his uncle, Lenny Schiano opened Fresco Pizza. It has the same menu but it is smaller than Pizza Mania. Parascandola worked at Fresco Pizza for the first five months after its opening. Fresco Pizza is located at 18853 SR 54 in Lutz. With restaurants located in both Wesley Chapel and Lutz, more people can enjoy authentic Italian food closer to home.
Pizza Mania and Fresco Pizza are open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays.
Parascandola says that perfecting authentic Italian dishes takes time. Pizza Mania and Fresco Pizza are not fast food or chain pizzerias. The restaurants are small in size, but big on taste.
Pizza Mania: (813) 907-0005
Fresco Pizza: (813) 949-7400
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