Michael Liquori works hard to convince Citrus County he has a better idea about pizza as he celebrates his first successful year as owner and chef of Michael Anthony’s Pizza in Homosassa Springs.
“You can not only get pizza, you can also get a very nice dinner,” Liquori said of his comfortable, remodeled restaurant on U.S. 19 across the highway from the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park attraction.
“We’re kind of like an old-school pizzeria,” he noted, that features a Northeast-style thin-crust pie with choice of toppings, including one of his personal favorites, the Grandma’s pizza, a cheesy, saucy mouthful of piping hot goodness.
“Our Sicilian crust is a little thicker,” he said, and is on the menu in a specialty section which includes pizza with titles such as antipasto, baked ziti, chicken scampi, cheesesteak, clams, BLT and eggplant deluxe, to name just a few.
All are made with a secret sauce Liquori learned to make at his father’s pizzeria at the New Jersey shore before moving to Citrus County.
“We brought New Jersey here,” he said. His father and mentor, Sandro Liquori, immigrated to the United States from South Barletta, Italy, at the age of 8 and later operated his New Jersey shop for 30 years. He works with his son part-time at the restaurant.
But Michael Anthony’s is not all about pizza.
He said he wants people to know there is a full menu of tempting entrées of pasta, poultry and seafood, dinners that include a fresh salad and hot bread baked daily on the premises, ranging from $8 for spaghetti or ziti to $15.45 for shrimp cutlets, calamari marinara and shrimp Fra Diavolo, for example.
The veal Francese is a luxurious portion of sautéed freshly cut veal and pasta of choice napped with the traditional white wine-and-lemon sauce for $14.95. You can also get the entree Parmigina- or Marsala-style.
A full range of appetizers such as wings, mussels, grilled garlic shrimp and sautéed broccoli rabe are also available, along with hot and cold subs of every description, wraps, soups and main-dish salads, including Caesar.
If you reserved space for a sweet finale, there is zeppoli, an Italian pastry similar to a deep-fried doughnut or fritter. It is often topped with powdered sugar and may be filled with custard, jelly or other mixtures. Cannoli and chocolate cannoli round out the list.
There is seating for up to 45 diners in the restaurant and customers, Liquori said, can be sure the dishes will include the freshest produce bought locally. The cheese he prefers is the upscale Grande brand.
Liquori earned a baseball scholarship he used to graduate from college, earning a degree in teaching, but decided his destiny was tied to the business he learned from his father.
One thing is certain: No one will go away hungry after visiting this restaurant.
Michael Anthony’s Pizza is located at 4101 S. Suncoast Boulevard (U.S. 19) in Homosassa Springs. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Delivery is available in the area as far as Crystal River to the north, Sugarmill Woods to the south and Lecanto and Beverly Hills to the east, with a $1 delivery charge. The restaurant also offers catering services.
For carryout, delivery and other information, call 352-628-7827. Major credit cards are accepted, including American Express.
Following is a customer favorite from Michael Liquori:
Chicken penne a la vodka
For chicken: Use two chicken breasts. Flour lightly and sauté until done. Set aside and cool. Cut into cubes.
For penne pasta sauce: Melt two tablespoons butter in a skillet. Add four to five splashes of vodka and allow to reduce by about one-half. Add two cups heavy cream. When cream begins to bubble, add salt, pepper and parsley to taste.
Then ladle into the mixture two tablespoons of chunky marinara of choice (or to taste, more or less). Add the cubed chicken and heat, adding two handfuls of grated Parmesan cheese to thicken sauce.
Serve over precooked penne pasta.