2010 November: Welcome to Miami!

PIZZA VOLANTE

We saw the blue car (pictured at left) out front and knew we had to stop. When we were served a bubbling hot pizza from a wood-burning oven, we were glad we did.

The creations at Pizza Volante occupy the middle ground somewhere between a New York pizza and a Neapolitan pie. Volante refers to its pizza as “Roman-style.” No matter what you call it, we called it well executed and downright tasty.

Opened in 2009, this new neighborhood favorite also offers panini, pasta dishes, and an array of wines. The quarters are a little cramped and spartan (save for the gaudy orange chairs), but Pizza Volante customers aren’t stopping in for comfort.

The wine list is notable because each of its 18 offerings are priced at $18 for the bottle. A night out in the Design District need not break the bank, and that’s always a good thing.

Pizza Volante was our first stop of the day, and what a day it was. We hit Miami early and decided to discover the city’s pizza scene the old-fashioned way — by dropping in unannounced, sampling the fare and taking pictures. How did we find out where to go? We asked locals or simply stopped into places that caught our collective pizza eye — such was the case with Pizza Volante. Sure, you’re going to miss great places when you do it this way. But you also discover the unsung heroes. And don’t worry if you were passed over. We have found that South Florida’s pizza scene has exploded in the past five years. We’ll be back soon to detail it in all its glory from West Palm Beach down through Miami. In the meantime, enjoy the limited roster of hotspots we turned up on our anonymous pizza quest in one of America’s most fashion-forward cities.

ANDIAMO

As unique a pizzeria as one will find, stucturally speaking. The building that houses Andiamo apparently was a carwash in a previous life. As wild as that sounds, the layout is perfect for a pizza parlor: open kitchen, indoor seating, a large spread for outdoor dining.

 

 

 

 

The pizzas here are served on a fluffy, chewy, traditional crust. They’re gourmet, to be sure, and delicious. The “Genovese” features rosemary potatoes, fresh garlic, pancetta, caramelized onions, mozzarella and gorgonzola. The “Vesuvio” is adorned with salami, olives, hot cherry peppers, tomato sauce and mozzarella.

 

 

 

 

Our server recommended the “BBQ Chicken”, so we gave that a whirl. We also dug into the “Mediterraneo,” which is topped with roasted peppers, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, basil pesto and feta cheese. Breadsticks, salads, panini, desserts and Philly cheesesteaks round out the impressive menu.

 

 

 

 

After hitting Pizza Volante and then Andiamo, we were two-for-two in the city’s Design District. From there, we branched out to other parts of Miami — and found more winners along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

CASOLA’S PIZZERIA

Opened in 1982, Casola’s is the exact opposite of the pizzerias you’ll find profiled on the following two pages. A throwback to pizza’s old-school heyday, Casola’s Pizzeria and Sub Shop is a no-frills spot favored by locals who want traditional pizza and pasta dinners. The menu also offers subs, chicken wings, hot dogs, croissants, salads, burgers and desserts.

There’s a little something for everyone here. It’s not as representative of fl ashy Miami as it is of, say, New Jersey … but that’s what makes it stand out in the crowd and keeps local American pizza purists coming back for more.

SPRIS

South Beach’s Lincoln Road is a place to see and be seen. The shopping is good, but the food is even better. Plenty of restaurants line the walk, and there’s al fresco seating galore in this breezy city. Among the throng of dining choices sits Spris, a wood-burning pizzeria that serves thin-crusted beauties. The gourmet pizzas have earned an “excellent” rating from Zagat, and for good reason.

The menu offers creations like the “Carbonara” pizza — tomato sauce, mozzarella, pancetta, sunny-sideup eggs, Parmesan and black pepper. The “Saporita” features tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy Italian salami, gorgonzola, capers, Kalamata olives and garlic.

From there, the offerings branch out to a number of appetizers, focaccia, bruschetta, salad, panini, woodbaked sandwiches and calzones. Draft and bottled beers, sparkling waters and a selection of wines help push check averages up.

In its review of Spris, Miami.com called the restaurant one of the most popular and affordable dining destinations on trendy Lincoln Road. Isn’t that what pizza is all about, no matter how fancy you decide to get with it?

SOSTA

Also located on Lincoln Road, Sosta Pizzeria Enoteca is another trendy establishment with a typical Miami twist. Here, the pizzas are gourmet and priced to sell. The marinara pie goes for just $8.50, while the house favored Sosta pizza is priced at $15 (sun-dried tomato spreads, mozzarella, burratta cheese, prosciutto).

The unique calling card at Sosta is the dessert menu, which offers everything at the set price of $6.50. In all, eight delectable dishes ranging from cheesecake with strawberry sauce to Pizza alla Nutella tempt sweet-toothed diners. Four dessert wines and an espresso lineup complement the fine finishes and give patrons of Sosta something to write home about.

Plus, the regular wine list is quite extensive for a pizzeria. It features champagne and prosecco, two rose wines and a battery of whites and reds. With selections from around the globe, it’s easy to choose a winner at Sosta.

In a sophisticated, fashionable city like Miami, what else would you expect?

PIZZA RUSTICA

Pizza Rustica also has roots on Lincoln Road in South Beach, but its product differs greatly from the competition. Baked in oversized rectangular pans, the crust here is thicker and the fare is heartier than found elsewhere in the vicinity.

 

 

The pies are cut into large rectangular slices and served with toppings piled high. Founder Pino Piroso opened Pizza Rustica in 1996. Since then, the company has expanded to 19 locations throughout the United States and France. There are 10 Pizza Rusticas in Florida, one in Arkansas, three in California, one in Michigan, one in South Carolina and three in Paris, France. Two more stores — one in Texas, one in Ohio — are set to open soon.

Pizza Rustica has gotten its fair share of press over the years. Expect that to continue as the company grows through franchising and expands its presence in both the United States and Europe alike.