By Mitchell Nover
I know that May is National Hamburger Month and National BBQ Month, but artificial foodie holidays be damned… I’m in the mood for pizza! So, when it comes to pizza, we all know that Miami is not New York, and that’s perfectly fine. I get it, people looooove NY pizza. There’s something in the water, yada yada yada. But, how about a little diversity, foks? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that’s what makes Miami’s food scene so great: diversity in food. Including, you guessed it, pizza. That’s why I’ve but together a quick round-up of some of my recent Miami favorites – from a classic Cuban pizza joint to a a couple of new Neapolitan outposts to, yes, a NYC-style hipster hangout. Bet you can’t get that combo in the Five Boroughs, can you?
Stanzione 87: This Neapolitan eatery in the heart of Brickell (87 SW 8th Street, Miami) was founded on the love of simplicity and tradition. Locally owned and operated, with a strong focus on tradition, Stanzione 87 celebrates the art of pizza making and it shows in the quality of both the service and the high quality ingredients used to make their pies. They import the finest ingredients from Italy and focus on local organic produce – a match made in pizza heaven, in my book.
Favorites include the Red Smoke with Miami Smokers guanciale, homemade mozzarella, red onion, and basil, and the BLT also with Miami Smokers guanciale, cherry tomatoes, homemade mozzarella, butter lettuce, and lemon vinaigrette.
More than pizza? Most definitely… A perfect way to cut the richness of the pizzas comes in the likes of the simple Side Salad with butter lettuce, sliced radish, goat cheese, and pepitas. Or, if you’re not in the mood for pizza (but want something pizza-adjacent) try the magnificent Meatball Panini, a wood-fired sandwich with homemade mozzarella, basil, parmigiano, olive oil, and San Marzano tomato sauce. It’s a great lunch option that won’t put you in a food coma when you get back to work.
Standout dish: I’m not normally a white pizza kind of guy, but the Angry Spinach might have turned me into a believer. This beautiful pizza packs a serious punch with spinach, homemade mozzarella, garlic, Calabrian peppers, parmigiano, and olive oil.
Mitch’s take: Stanzione 87 is your neighborhood spot to enjoy a leisurely lunch, a quick bite at the bar, a family dinner, or a late night wood fired pizza. It’s bright, fun, modern, and, most importantly, serves up some damn good pizza.
Rey’s Pizza: This local chain (nine locations across Miami, Kendall, Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens) serves classic Cuban-style pizzas and more. So, what is Cuban-style pizza, you ask? Well, on paper, it’s really not that different from American pizza. But the differences start to show themselves once you look deeper into the ingredients of dough, sauce, and cheese. First off, the dough is much more glutenous, thanks to its longer resting period. Second, the sauce is specially-made and slightly sweeter than regular tomato or pizza sauces. And, third, the cheese blends whole milk mozzarella and gouda cheeses.
However, the most important difference actually comes in the way the pizzas are cooked. No, it’s not like they cook them in a caja china or something (although that does sound interesting). Rather, it’s the fact that the toppings are baked into the pizza, under the cheese. And, speaking of toppings, that’s where the cubaneo really comes into play. You want picadillo? You got picadillo. You want chorizo? You got chorizo. You want platanos maduros? Yes, you’ve even got those. Vaya, asere.
More than pizza? Oh, yes. Let’s talk milkshakes. If you’re not washing down your pizza with a Batido de Mamey, Batido de Trigo, or Malteada, you’re not doing it right. And, if you didn’t already have enough carbs in your life, try the Garlic Bread. It’s pretty straightforward, but very tasty. And, finally, for many, the secret to Rey’s Pizza’s menu lies in the Spaghetti. There’s just something about that overcooked pasta mixed up with the sweet tomato sauce and cheese mixture that reminds me of Cuba… and I’m not even Cuban!
Standout dish: All of that said, it really is all about the Pizza. And, the best part? You can’t go wrong with any of your topping of flavor combinations.
Mitch’s take: This place is about as low-key as it gets. It’s very Cuban… and I love everything about that. While not for the faint of heart, in terms of calorie count and, let’s say interesting service attitudes, there’s just something about this place that delights every time I go.
Antico Pizza: Famed restaurateur and celeb favorite pizza maker, Gio DiPalma has brought his talents from Atlanta to South Beach, along with his acclaimed Antico Pizza Napoletana. Located inside the Centro Storico (1058 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach), DiPalma’s pizza is considered by many as the best in the country. In fact, ZAGAT gave it a rating of 28, the highest ever for a pizza restaurant.
Recognized nationally and internationally, all ingredients used at Antico Pizza are brought in direct from Italy except for the water, which, believe it or not, is brought in from Atlanta to maintain the product consistency. The menu features ten pizzas, which are made in special ovens that compress the time from ordering to service down to just a few minutes. At the top of the list are the award-winning San Gennaro (salsiccia, dolce picante pepper, bufala, cipolline), the Pomodorini (fresh cherry Vesuvian tomatoes, bufala, garlic, basil), and the classic Margherita (San Marzano tomato, bufala, basil, garlic).
More than pizza? Centro Storico actually hosts a few different concepts (Bar Amalfi, Caffè Gio, and Gio’s Chicken) in one space, almost similar to a food hall. Gio’s Chicken, specifically, serves up some of the best roasted chicken I’ve ever had. The Sorrento Lemon is the most popular, moist and tender with lemons, garlic, wild oregano, and olio di olive, while the Diavola, with heat coming from the Calabrian pepperoncini, garlic, crushed pepper and olio, is another top choice. All chickens are accompanied by crispy focaccia and perfectly cooked potato wedges, as well as Gio’s Famous Dinner Salad.
Standout dish: The Diavola Pizza is hot and spicy in all the right ways, with spicy soppresata, pepperonata, and bufala.
Mitch’s take: Antico Pizza has been a hotspot in Atlanta for a few years now, with lines out the door and a celebrity clientele that includes everyone from Selena Gomez to Conan O’Brien, Will Ferrell to Snoop Dogg, Paul Rudd to Gabrielle Union, DJ Khaled to Tom Hanks, and more. It’s safe to say with a following like that, Antico Pizza will be nothing short of a success here in the Magic City.
Pizza Tropical: One of Wynwood’s most popular watering holes, Gramps (176 NW 24th Street, Miami), has recently launched a new collaboration between owner Adam Gersten and The Pizza Show host Frank Pinello, creating an authentic Brooklyn style pizza haunt in the heart of Miami’s famed arts district.
The Pizza Tropical concept is pretty simple, serving NY-style slices, whole pies, and wings out of a Cuban ventanita on the patio. The pizzas are essentially a “greatest hits” of your favorite casual pizza flavors, including La Blanca with ricotta, mozzarella, pecorino romano, caramelized onions, parsley and toasted sesame seeds; El Queso with mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil; El Peppe with mozzarella, tomato sauce, pepperoni, and basil; Mi Margherita with homemade mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil; and El Mushroomo with fresh sauteed cremini mushrooms, mozzarella, and tomato sauce.
More than pizza? Pizza Tropical’s menu is purposefully limited, but they do have delicious and firey Hot Wings to complement your pizza. And, don’t forget, you’re at Gramps and therefore have access to some great cocktails, like the Cucumber in Paradise.
Standout dish: To some, it’s a blasphemy, but I’ve always been a huge fan of Hawaiian pizza, and La Hawaiiana at Pizza Tropical does not disappoint with homemade mozzarella, diced pepperoni, chargrilled pineapple, caramelized pineapple, diced pineapple, chili oil, parsley, and cilantro. Yes, that’s pineapple three ways. Yum!
Mitch’s take: Pizza Tropical is the perfect spot for lunch, dinner, or late night eats – but, mostly late night eats. After a night out at Gramps or any if Wynwood’s numerous bars nd breweries, a slice (or two or three) will not only help to soak up the booze, but will delight your tastebuds while doing so. Your stomach will thank you tonight; your head will thank you tomorrow.