It should be simple; subtle yet distinguishable with virtue, taste, sauce and texture.
It is the quintessential American food, so of course its roots are from immigrants and it was popularized by American GIs returning from WWII who served in Italy.
We are talking about Pizza and it's time to reveal the best in Miami.
First, if you want to mention the chains, go to another blog. Such swill will not be given the time of day here.
Second, we start with the reigning champ- Steve's Pizza in North Miami. It has been there forever, and its pizza is great. So we will make this post on where to get a great pizza south of 79th Street.
A word about Anthony's Coal Fired. The pizza is great. The Paul and Ron is our favorite. All the pizza comes out of a coal fired oven, with a distinctive coal-fired taste. Anthonys is a South Florida original, and has franchised to many locations in the eastern sea board and even successfully invaded the Pizza capital: NYC (don't even start Chicago).
Anthonys is sui generis. It is unique and has great food and great pizza, but it is not what we are after.
What we are after is the neighborhood joint. The small place, with the pizza craftsman, who makes a superb slice, pie after pie.
Henrys. In Midtown and soon to be in Coconut Grove, Henrys does a good job with pizza, and now offers any pizza on the menu gluten free (which is really a very healthy way to eat.). Henrys has wings and some fancy side dishes. Its pizza is good and tasty, but it is not great.
Casolas. Ensconced on 17th avenue just off US1, Casolas is a neighborhood joint, started by a couple of brothers in the late 1970s who came to Miami via Argentina and Boston. Casolas has been around forever, and walk in late any night and see the truce between the city of Miami cops chowing down, and the bad guys they are chasing who are carbo loading before or after a night of clubbing.
But the pizza is bad. Doughy, and chewy and lacking flavor. But what the pizza lacks in taste, it makes up with in price and size. Each slice is the equivalent of two slices, and a pie is an enormous acre of dough and sauce and cheese and can easily feed a dozen people. The chicken wings are enormous and the best in the city and the subs can range from the good (steak and cheese) to great (the italian). But as a pizza joint it cannot hold a candle to Steves.
The Queen. Many years ago, trying a case before the great Jack Weinstein in the EDNY we asked our local counsel for a dinner recommendation. "Youse like pizza?" "Sure" "The Queen on Court Street is the best around." And it was. A sauce that was tomato-y, yet a hint of sweet. Fresh mozzarella. A cook that made the pizza slightly burnt and of course burned the roof of your mouth. We've been searching for the South Florida equivalent ever since.
Pomodoros. Coral Gables. We may have found the Miami Queen tucked on a side street in Coral Gables, a half a block in from Miracle Mile. It's a small joint, with a few tables squeezed in with some seats by a railing. It does a brisk take out business, but our first hint that we may have stumbled on to something was that during lunch this week people were waiting outside to order and be served.
The pizza came out piping hot. The crust made a crunching sound at the back as we gave it the old "NY fold" and the tip sagged under the weight of sauce and cheese. A great crust should be thin, but not too thin, with the slightest hint of pizza dough taste, and the dark marks of the pizza oven on the bottom, each pie and slice containing the marks of a thousands slices before it.
The sauce was just right. Strong tomato flavor, and a subtle sweetness that means just the right amount of sugar was added to counter balance the vinegar in the sauce. This my friends, is a great slice of pizza. Check out the reviews on line. They all say the same thing- a great slice of NY style Pizza.
We can quibble with the cheese- standard mozzarella, nothing special like you may get with the pizza restaurants in NYC that cater to demanding millennials- "the cheese is locally sourced from a family farm outside of buffalo that has grass fed cows and is 100% organic and pesticide free…" But all in all, this is what a pizza slice should be.
2413 Galiano Street, Coral Gables, Florida.
Delivery: Yes. Reservations: No.
What the stars mean:
* Good food. Worth a trip.
** This is chef capable of turning out an amazing meal. One out of a hundred joints gets two stars.
*** This is a meal you won't ever forget. Not just a meal, but a memory.
**** Noma in Copenhagen, Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy, (tell Massimo you read our blog and he will hand you a glass of home made italian wine on the house) and no other places get four stars.
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