Pizzico Ristorante and Martini Bar is a fun and lively Italian bistro just off the Everett Turnpike where kids and families can enjoy pasta, pizza, and creative and authentic Italian specialties.

Pizzico has been around for years in Nashua and at its sister restaurant in Merrimack in the Shaw’s Plaza off Exit 11.

Settling in the lounge on a recent Sunday evening, we enjoyed a non-crowded atmosphere and a super-friendly waitstaff.

We found out that good deals are to be found during Pizzico’s Happy Hour, which is Sunday through Thursday just before the traditional dinner hours. Draft beers are $3, along with wine and selected cocktails, with some appetizers at half price.

We ordered beverages and shared an appetizer order of Melanzane Imbottite ($8). These were four large eggplant rolls, served hot and stuffed to bursting with ricotta cheese, and topped with the thick and tasty house tomato sauce. The four-bite rolls were somewhat filling, so we were glad to wait on our dinner order.

Speaking of, we were enticed by the pizza menu with its well-written descriptions of carefully baked pies and calzones. We went the pizza route and enjoyed two dishes that did not use tomato sauce.

The Pizzico Calzone ($12) is a well-crafted, folded-over-and-ever-so-slightly-crispy pizza pie that attempts to hold a bevy of ingredients inside its crust. But it can’t quite do the job when you bite into it. The insides fall out, making a fork necessary. The calzone featured sausage, marinated chicken, sauteed portobello mushrooms, freshly chopped tomatoes, Parmesan, mozzarella and a touch of olive oil.

In the Pizzico dish no sauce does not mean it’s dry by any means. The olive oil adds to the natural juices of the meats and veggies baked into the calzone, and it is worthy to carry the flagship name. One of the best things to come out of a pizza oven that we have had.

But there is at least another candidate for best dish lurking immediately above Pizzico on the menu — the Buonissima ($12/$19). This pizza, also available as a calzone (as are nearly all of Pizzico’s pizzas), is a white pizza made with fresh-sliced garlic and olive oil, topped with spinach, chicken, mozzarella and sliced fresh tomatoes.

The menu also suggests the Buonissima as an appetizer, and perhaps that would work — for six people, because it is a hearty pizza. The tomato slices are thick and proud, carrying the veggie theme with the spinach quite well, different from the chopped variety on the Pizzico, which is added to other strong ingredients.

Either way, the tomato was a featured, carefully cooked and special part of both meals that we enjoyed, and we appreciated the no-sauce freshness of two pizza dinners that feature far more than crust and sauce and a few slices of meat.

The menu at Pizzico is loaded with dozens of Italian dinners and terrific sounding specialty salads. An Apple and Goat Cheese Salad ($10) leads that list, which includes Steak Tip ($16) and Cobb ($11).

If you are in the mood for a traditional Italian dinner, you can choose from chicken or veal Scaloppine, Marsala, Parmigiana and Farsito, among others, along with seafood Fra Diavolo, Al Forno, Rustica and Scampi, and pasta dishes of Calamari, Lobster Ravioli, Manicotti, Apple Carbonara, and more featuring sauces like Tomato, Alfredo, Bolognese, White Wine Parmigiana, Pesto, Vodka and Creamy Roasted Pepper.

Most entrees come with pasta on the side and soup or salad (Caesar or Greek salad is $2-$3 more).

All told, Pizzico has it all Italian, and we are all in for our next visit.