Surfside Beach, Garden City, Murrells Inlet—these small coastal towns are prized by vacationers who like the fun vibe of Myrtle Beach but prefer the high energy dialed down a notch or two. Families, in particular, love the easier pace and affordability of these South Strand coastal havens. And when the craving strikes (and it will) for a good pizza, baked pasta, hot calzone or toasty Italian sub, this is where you want to be. Mom and pop Italian-style eateries are a staple of the food scene here and offer casual dining that is filling, tasty and affordable.
Peel swimsuits off your squirming kids, shower them off and spruce yourself up? Nobody’s got time for that. Shake the sand off their flip-flops, throw on a tank top and take the family out for an Italian lunch or dinner where the atmosphere is no-fuss and the food is comforting and delicious. And if that still seems like too much maintenance (Hey, it’s your vacation!), place a carryout order or ask about delivery—you won’t even have to brush your hair. Here are five won’t-break-the-bank, come-as-you-are Italian eateries serving the south end of the Grand Strand.
Anthony’s Pizza and Pasta, Surfside Beach
Hearth-baked, New York-style pizzas with homemade dough and sauce fly out of the ovens here to keep hungry locals and visitors happy. There are subs, soups and salads, too, along with faves like chicken wings and garlic knots. For a real treat, try one of their “pan” pastas—fresh pasta warmed in a pan with olive oil, garlic, your favorite toppings and one of Anthony’s homemade sauces. Nobody leaves Anthony’s hungry.
Franco’s New York Pizza, Murrells Inlet
New York thin or chewy Sicilian, pizza is a standout at Franco’s, along with the usual suspects you crave: decadent subs and fresh, cold salads. The chicken Alfredo is simply decadent. And don’t dare leave without ordering their signature “Pizza Bawlz”—homemade meatballs, pepperoni and cheese tucked into pizza dough and deep-fried. Slap your mama good.
Lazer’s Pizza, Surfside Beach
If you get a chance to talk to owner Lazer Lekani, ask him to tell you the inspiring story of his escape from communist Albania more than three decades ago. A solid fixture in the Surfside Beach community, he poignantly calls the U.S. “A country to die for.” That same high praise can be applied to Lazer’s pizzas (try the Albanian with peppers, onions, garlic, feta and oregano), pastas, subs, stromboli and more.
Surfside Beach Pizza and Restaurant, Surfside Beach
Like most of these eateries, Surfside Beach Pizza is family owned and operated. Mosey on in and grab a seat—just make sure you choose a big enough table to hold a feast: pizza, pasta, subs, calzones and killer chicken parmigiana and lasagna. Buon appetito!
Uncle Mikey’s, Murrells Inlet
Brick oven pizza gets primo treatment at Uncle Mikey’s. In fact, you might just get a peek of Uncle Mikey himself tossing that dough before he smothers it with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings. The food is so good because it’s made from time-honored family recipes that have been handed down for generations: spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant Parmesan, chicken Alfredo and more—it’s all here.