Enjoy Classic Italian Recipes

Enjoy Classic Italian Recipes Pizza Cucinova Brings Authentic Neapolitan Cuisine To The Mall At Wellington Green

Story and Photos by Melanie Kopacz

Pizza Cucinova has added a taste of Italy to the upper level of the Mall at Wellington Green. The newly opened pizzeria began serving its homemade Neapolitan cuisine in May.

Priscilla Vazquez, Pizza Cucinova’s compliance and brand director, has family from Naples. “I used a lot of family recipes from my grandma and my dad for the pastas,” she explained.

Those generational recipes are what Vazquez learned growing up in the kitchen. “I like being in the kitchen. I like to cook and experiment. I really enjoy it when people tell me it’s great, and then I tell them, ‘It’s my grandma’s recipe!’” she said.

Many of those recipes have been meshed throughout the company’s reimagined menu and concept.

From pepperoni stromboli filled with mozzarella, or a hand-crafted Marguerita pizza to share with friends, to desserts, like cannoli or tiramisu, to go with a barista-made cappuccino, Pizza Cucinova is a great complement to a day of shopping. There’s a lot of appeal to the restaurant, breathing new life into a former pizzeria closed for years.

“We got the opportunity to open here at the mall. We have the Sbarro’s downstairs, and they gave us a location for our Mexican spot, Madre’s, so it’s a good collaboration between us and the mall,” Vazquez said.

The eatery is nestled just a few doors down from Macy’s. You can’t miss the vintage 1940s Italian motorcycle parked at the entrance to welcome guests. Popular scenes from Italy fill the walls. A board boasts the specials, while a window box displays tasty Italian treats as shoppers pass by. The sleek black exterior mixed with brick makes the pizzeria stand out.

“The pizza — it’s an artisan dough, so it’s soft and bready on the inside, but crunchy on the outside,” Vazquez said. “It’s better within the first couple of hours. If you’re taking it home, it’s best to put it in the oven or air fryer, not the microwave, in order to keep the crispness.”

The classic cheese and pepperoni as well as the barbecue pizza are both top sellers. “We have our own pizza sauce — basic tomatoes, salt, sugar and it’s very light. No garlic, but lots of basil,” Vazquez said.

The bruschetta, a vegetarian pizza, is the most popular. “It has pesto sauce, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. We add arugula after it cooks, mix it with a little lemon vinaigrette and then drizzle it with balsamic glaze,” Vazquez said.

When it comes to salads, it’s the Mediterranean that sells the most.

“It’s my favorite. I love the dressing and the pepperoncini on top. It’s very earthy and fresh tasting with multiple flavors,” Vazquez said. “It’s a good blend, a well-balanced salad. You can add salmon or steak.”

The wings are always a favorite starter.

“We have three different sauces that we make here. The Buffalo sauce, which is freshly made; the barbecue sauce that we make sweet and tangy; and then the garlic butter sauce, which we also make in house,” she said.

Calamari is also a popular starter. “It’s very high quality. I add a little seasoning after it’s fried,” Vazquez said. “It’s very lightly breaded, very good.”

For bread lovers, the garlic knots are a must to complement a meal.

“It’s the same artisan dough we use to make the pizza, but we smother it in a butter garlic sauce with herbs and olive oil, before we roll it into a knot. We put it in the oven, and then brush it with a little more when it comes out and add Parmesan on top,” she said. “Crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside.”

Other signature pizzas included the spicy Hawaiian. It’s topped with ham, pineapple, bacon and mozzarella. The quattro carne meat lovers’ pizza is topped with four meats — sausage, pepperoni, meatballs and ham. Pair it with a glass of wine or beer.

Gluten-free crust and vegan options are also available. The pizzas can be fully customized. “If I have it, I have no problem making it,” Vazquez said.

The spaghetti also has its own twist on flavor. “There’s rosemary in the sauce,” she explained. “It’s a unique family recipe.”

Better be hungry if you’re ordering the carne lasagna, a family classic. The slice is huge and dripping in meat sauce, like her grandma’s. The tender beef is slowly simmered in marinara. Two artisan bread sticks poke from the bowl, making for the perfect combination with each bite.

“The more you eat, the more you’re happy,” Vazquez said. “That’s why our portions are so big.”

Aside from the love of cooking, Vazquez equally loves to interact with the guests.

“I want people to come in and feel like they’re home. Nothing formal, I want them to feel comfortable to come back whenever they want and think the food is great and the service is great,” she said. “If you don’t invest in what you love, it’s not going to be successful, and it will show. That’s what my grandma always taught me.”

Pizza Cucinova is located on the upper level of the Mall at Wellington Green at 10300 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 238. It is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. For more information, call (561) 614-6800.