The first Elizabeth’s Pizza was opened in Collinsville, Va., in 1977 by Mike Graziani and his brother-in-law. On a trip to Wilmington to look for other promising locations, the family happened to stop in Fayetteville on the way home. After a look around, they decided the city would be a perfect spot for expansion. Now with the two restaurants going strong, they are still able to keep it all in the family. The establishments are owned by Mike Casa and his nephew, Roasario “Tony” Coppola. “We have brothers, cousins, in-laws and uncles working here,” Coppola said with a laugh. Elizabeth’s sauces are the foundation for many of the dishes served and are all based on old family recipes. “Our sauce is exceptional,” Coppola said. “People know our sauces and we always strive to make the best.” The sauces are used in entrees such as lasagna, spaghetti and tortellini alla panna, one of the most popular dishes on the menu with capicola ham and meat-filled tortellini.
The pizza dough is made fresh every morning, no frozen pies here, with toppings ranging from cheese to Italian sausage and eggplant. Pizzas are served Neapolitan or Sicilian style. “We love the pizza,” says Melody Foote, whose family prefers the pepperoni. A native New Yorker, she says the pizza reminds her of home. “It is the crust and the sauce. The crust is just perfect, thin and crispy.” Not in the mood for pizza? Then try the extensive and enticing list of sandwiches. “My personal favorite is the steak and cheese Stromboli,” says Shannon Deaton. “I have them add some of their capicola ham, and it hits the spot. I know it sounds different, but it is so good.”
Friendly service and atmosphere complete the picture, down to the traditional red-checkered tablecloths. “Basic tradition, that is what everybody likes and that is why we think people keep coming back,” Coppola said. “People know that when they come here, the sauce, the pizza and the service, it is all going to be the same.” Don’t forget about dessert with melt-in-your-mouth selections such as rum cake, black forest cake, chocolate ganache cheesecake and, of course, tiramisu. And if you are looking for a cup of coffee to finish off your meal, you’re in the right place. It’s tempting to start at the top of a long list of specialty drinks and work your way down from Italian hot chocolate to frozen coffees. Check out the displays of Italian candy on your way out. It’s easy to see why Elizabeth’s has remained popular in Fayetteville for more than two decades. “We know what our customers like, and we like to keep them happy and full,” Coppola said. “That’s why they keep coming back.”