Italia Pizzeria

"Italia Pizzeria is the place to stuff your face," is the motto of Bellmawr`s landmark restaurant, which has been serving and delivering its great food for over 26 years. That`s just what we did when my friend Mary and I stopped in for a quick lunch recently.

The newly renovated Italia Pizzeria and Restaurant now boasts a beautiful and spacious dining area. We were especially impressed with the modern decor and the hand-painted mural that adorns the far wall. Owner Maria DiFilippi explained that the painting is a tribute to her recently deceased husband, who founded the restaurant.

Italia`s menu was also upgraded to include chicken and veal dinners and more pasta specialties. It also offers soups, salads, sand-wiches and any kind of pizza you can dream up. For an appetizer, we chose Honey Roasted Barbecue Shrimp. This surprisingly delicious dish (which was prepared in the wood-burning oven) had a sweet and tangy taste. Although it is currently running only as a special, it will soon be offered as part of the regular menu.

Next, I had the Margherita (lunch $4.95, dinner $6.95), a ten-inch pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella, while Mary had a Cheese Steak Hoagie ($3.90 small, $4.90 large). My pizza was cooked in a brick oven that is fired by aged oak wood, giving it a very distinctive flavor. Since this method cooks food at higher temperature, the pizza crust is thin and crusty. I love pizza of any kind, but this was truly outstanding. Italia also offer traditional round and Sicilian pizza. Only the finest gourmet toppings - such as shrimp, baby clams, roasted peppers and pineapple - are used on all of their pizzas. The cheese steak, brimming with fried onions, mozzarella cheese, lettuce and tomato, was prepared the way only good steak sandwiches are - messy but delicious.

Cannolis and espresso or cappuccino would have been a perfect ending for our meal, but, unfortunately, we didn`t have the room. Maria said that customers are more than welcome to come in just for dessert and coffee.

Italia`s chefs, Car-mine and Geno, have years of experience in the business, and they do an excellent job of creating dishes that surpass some of finest Italian restau-rants in quality, taste and presentation. For deliveries or to place an order for pickup, call 931-4436 or fax 931-2138.

Italia Pizza and Restaurant 108 S. Black Horse Pike Bellmawr 931-4436

Hours: Monday - Thursday: 10:30 a.m to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday: Noon to 11 p.m.

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Author: Colleen Flanagan

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