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Mar 8, 2002 09:41 PM

South Florida pizza

  • c

Chuck and I have been having a great discussion about this, buried somewhere under a Steve's thread. I thought I'd bring it out and stick it higher on the board. :-)

Keep in mind before I start listing my favorites: I spent 4 years at UMiami researching these, but I'm at least one year removed from SoFla, so some of these may be outdated. My qualifications? Born and raised in Bayonne, NJ, across the river from the city, and spent those college years road-tripping from Hollywood to Key West with a fellow Jersey-chowhound-pizza-freak in search of the perfect pie.

Sorry if this is haphazard, I'm still at the paper recovering from a particularly bad deadline rush.

MY FAVORITE: Pucci's, at the intersection of Lincoln and Alton roads in Miami Beach, across the street from that huge movie theater. Humongously fat man makes the pizza while wearing a white wife-beater. Sauce is kinda interesting, but the pizza is well-done (in both senses of the word) with just enough cheese, and crust that you don't leave on the plate after you're finished. I think there are actually several Pucci's on and around the beach, but this is the only one I personally endorse. ;-)

UM'S FAVORITE: The Big Cheese, in Coral Gables (or maybe South Miami) on Ludlam Rd. just off U.S. 1, on the northwest side under the Metrorail. Actually, I really am not thrilled about their pizza, which I've only had once, but their garlic rolls are KILLER. Now that I recall, I think their pizza was more like Steve's, which I'm sure Chuck will elaborate on.

There's a fairly new place across the street from Big Cheese called Slice N' Ice that was fantastic for about a month, then slid sharply downhill. It's probably gone by now, but consider yourself warned.

Ever eat bad food that tastes really good because you're starving? That happened to me at a pizzeria in Key West, can't remember the name, in an alley just off Duval, I think near where the guy takes picutres of you holding a parrot. Whatever. Just don't go. My friend and I took a weekend in Key West and spent forever looking for this place, and then when I finally found it I had to listen to him bitching at me for making him waste a trip.

The aforementioned Steve's is in North Miami on Biscayne Blvd. and 122nd St, I believe. They have really late weekend hours, I think till 4am, which is a plus. The pizza has lots of cheese and is underdone for my tastes. Ah well, chacun a son gout.

I found a better-than-average place in/near Plantation, I wonder if this is the Mario's everyone is talking about. This was a combo pizza-counter/nice restaurant, think Via was in the name somewhere. It's in a shopping center, possibly on Nob Hill and Pine Island (or Nob Hill and Sunrise -- whichever, it's a street or three after Cleary Blvd). Not overly well-done (cookingwise) but we ordered a fresh pie instead of slices, which will have that effect.

That's all I can remember now, sorry my directions stink. (It happens when you don't have a car and have to be the passenger.) If you all ever make it to Central Florida, definitely hit Bizzarro's. Best pizza in the state, IMHO. Take exit 71 off I-95 straight east to the beach. Look for the line that stretches out the door and all the way to the sand. Or get off at 73 and go to the Bizzarro's Express in the Mobil station. (I'm not kidding. It's really that good.)

Please, everyone chime in!


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  1. I repeat. I come from New Jersey, where in some areas we call it Tomato Pie. I believe that New York pizza is best because of the texture and taste of the dough, which most people attribute to the water. But there's more to a great pizza than that. I mean there's bad pizza in New York too. In south Florida there's only one place...RUSTICA PIZZA, it's on washinghton street in Miami Beach.

    7 Replies
    1. re: peter

      Oh yeah, I've heard of that place, but never had the opportunity to try it.

      I remembered another beach place to avoid, if it's still there: it had some ITalian name that didn't make too much sense when you thought about it, something liek Pizza e Via or Via e Pizza. It was down at the end of Lincoln Road pedestrian mall. They had food other than pizza, but their margherita was a POOR EXCUSE (I'm sure Maggie was very upset).

      I don't think it's the water. It's the people. Those great Melbourne pizzas I mentioned are obnoxious guys from Brooklyn, and while they did import the talent, they didn't import the water. I've heard vaguely of TOmato Pie, is that a South Jersey thing? I'm from the half of Jersey that pretends they're from NYC, as opposed to the other half that pretend they're from Philly. :-)

      1. re: Covert Ops

        you carpetbagging yankees are soo proprietary.sout/north jersey what's the difference?
        I travel over an hour to melbourne to get bizzarros.actually they're obnoxious guys from naples,not Brooklyn. I hear they are opening in orlando.

        1. re: gasdok007

          Where exactly is Bizzarros? Northern and Southern NJ are two very different worlds - you just wouldn't understand. It's a Jersey thing.

          But, lets stick to the issue at hand - a supposedly great pie in Melbourne, Florida? I live in Ormond Beach now and the only thing I remember about Melbourne is its horrendous traffic. But, you have peaked our interest so lets here all about it and how us obnoxious Yankee transplants can get there - if you'll have us. Be nice....

          1. re: Chuck

            i deliver to all of them and they are all good but they get inconsitent especially on friday night when theyre slamming.Indialantic-exit 71 off I95(rt.192)east about 10 miles all the way to the beach 1 block north on aia.Viera-exit 73 off 95 wickham road 1/2 mile east inside mobil station.for sitdownand dinners-satellite beach A1A about 1/2 mile south of pineda causeway,cocoa(mainland, not beach) US1 byrd plaza shopping center halfway between 528 and 520 exit 95 at 528 east about6 miles us1 south about 3 miles.

        2. re: Covert Ops

          Englewood, Hackensack and Ft. Lee here....Remember Libonnetti's in Bergenfield? Into NYC and Johns in the Village!

        3. re: peter

          Is this the pizza place near the converted theater-night club? If so, go to Steves, Marios or John The Baker. If not, never been to this place.

          1. re: Chuck

            That's their new store near 15th, not as good as the original, which is on about 8th & Washington.

        4. Ok, more on pizza is fine with me - I remember a Hound mentioning Bizzaro's before and others responding that the outlet at the gas station was not good anymore - I believe this place is somehere near Cocoa Beach? How, pray tell, can they have the best pizza in the state? Please expound.

          As far as you mentioning a place in Plantation, its not Mario's, which is between Oakland Park Blvd and Sunrise Blvd. on University - East side on University near Home depot - Go there! You must ask for thin and well done though - a great pie. The taste of Steve's and the texture you are looking for. Terrific Italian food at very reasonable prices - I have posted about this place so many times and a few Hounds have written to me to thank me for the post. Excellent Shrimp Scampi, Pork Chops Pizzola, all is good - clean, excellent service - what more can I say. Winner of "Best of" 2001

          Want great, great garlic rolls? John the Baker in Pembroke Pines - the best around. Very, very good pizza, if you ask for thin and well done - the sausage is excellent - rest of food is only ok - lots of families - noisy - nothing like their former friendly cousin's place (Marios) but still worth a drive if you love garlic rolls and good pizza. Closer and just about the same - Mario the Baker in North Miami
          Incidently, I am a NJ transplant too. More about the place in Cocoa(?) would be appreciated.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Chuck

            your postings got me interested and i'm just back from dinner at Bizzarro Satellite beach.Met the owner,Peter , a charming guy from Naples,Italy. in addition to a slice.I had
            delicious homemade porcini mushroom ravioli with the best pesto sauce on the planet.My husband and kids had the pizza and raved about it.This stuff truly looks and tastes like the stuff you remember.Perfectly melded cheese and sauce-orange,not red with white blobs,hold an entire slice by the edge and it stands staight out and doesn"t droop. I got the story,also.
            Angelo Sr., pete's dad grows the basil in his back yard.Frank, pete's younger brother mans the indialantic
            beachfront store,sister aggie andher husband mimo run the cocoa sit down restaurant,and pete's 21 year old son Angelo is at the epress outlet in the mobil station in viera.Kids will be kids so pete has put timmie from cocoa,and tony the turtle from satellite into the gas station. The gas station location is the only one that delivers and has been so sucessful the first year tha pete,s brother Gus who used to run cocoa is opening at a mobil station in west orlando.
            anyway the pie secrets:cheese from uncle sal in wisconsin,sauce made from imported san marzano tomatoes
            they buy ship container loads from cousin lelo in italy,and bottled water for the dough they wouldn't divulge the source. This pizza would stand up to the best in any borough or neighboring state

            1. re: stina328

              Would you mind giving us directions off 1-95 once more? I'm there on my next trip south to Broward! You've wet this Hound's pizza appetite.

              1. re: Chuck

                Folks, the best pizza in Dade is at Frankie's pizza on Bird Road (about 100th Street, across from Bird Bowl). Take out only but thin crust, excellent fresh sauce and fresh toppings. They have been around forever and truly make the best pizza in Miami. FYI, they slice in squares...still tastes excellent!
                Second best is Miami's Best Pizza on US1 across from UMiami. True Italian style and operated by the sons of the original owners. The place was originally called Little Ceasers but have to change their name in the franchise wars.

                1. re: MiamiChow


                  I had heard that Frankie's was extremely popular but served "Cuban pizza," whatever that meant, and that intimidated me enough that I never made it over there.

                  Has Miami's Best Pizza picked up? That's good to hear. It wasn't very good when I first started at UM about 5 years ago, but I walked past years later and they place LOOKED authentic. . .never made it back in though.

                  There was a newer (within the past few years) place close to MBP, in the shopping center ner Dunkin Donuts by where the old Riviera Theater used to be. AWFUL!! ABSOLUTELY AWFUL!! The name escapes me, hopefully it's gone by now. The pizza had this thin layer of what looked like gelatin inside it that scared me a lot. . .my friend and I were so hungry our stomachs were starting to feed on our spinal cords, but we weren't THAT hungry! (We went to Pucci's instead!)

                  1. re: Covert Ops

                    You know, I lived in South Miami for 6 years and never had a decent slice of pizza at any of the places near the University of Miami so perhaps things have changed since the late 80's? There was, however a great, great college spot called "LB's" in the area which made fantastic fried vegetable chips of all different types (like a tempura batter) and wonderful sandwiches.

                    Never been to Frankies - I can only go by where I've eaten and its Steve's and Mario the Baker for me until proven differently. And, as far as the garlic rolls, I must try your's because Mario the Baker and his unfriendly relatives at John the Baker and Mario's all make the best I have ever eaten. They are fantastic.

                    At these three places, they do so many garlic rolls they have a guy assigned to just that one task, making garlic rolls. There is a section on the production line and a stack of pizza ovens just devoted to garlic rolls at all three places. Ask for them well done and the same for their pizzas and enjoy! All three places are excellent, but Mario's in Sunrise is the best.

                    1. re: Chuck

                      Mario the Baker in the north.
                      Frankie's on Bird Road in the south.
                      That's all anyone has to know.

                      1. re: Eileen

                        I just spent a considerable amount of time in Miami and grew up there with Frankie's. Unfortunately, the pizza is not as good as it used to be and even though I tried it again after a disappointing meal, it had not improved - too bad!

            2. re: Chuck

              i dissagree i belive that BIZZARROS PIZZA is the best pizza without a doubt in FLORIDA (or brevard county) there garlic knots are great made by a special dough recipe .I cant even begin were to start on the menu.The pizza is soo good i refuse to eat any other pizza . anywere u go it is goood. in suntree on wickom rd. second lght south of i-95 the # is 255-5852 also delivery. in satilite no delivery on a1a in the a1a shopping center there food is soo good peter the chef makes the best sause and chicken# is 777-7793.the place on the beach in indiatlantic is on 5th avenue no delivery # is 724-4799. and comin soon a bizzarros in orlando (dont no the directoins yet).. i really really suggest that u go to your nearest bizzarros pizza cuisine. and fagetaboutit ull be goin there every time.soo go there and enjoy the food please..

            3. Ray's Pizza at 3rd Ave & 27th is the best pizza in N.W.
              Miami. Made by N.J. Cubans, it has the best crust and
              ingredients of any I've tried down here. It's worth the
              trip and it's fairly safe. Ask anyone in Hialeah--
              they'll be able to tell you were it is.

              3 Replies
              1. re: flavrmeistr

                There is another place on the 79th Street Causeway going towards Miami Beach on the left side of the street that also has some pretty good pizza by the slice - It is also run by Cubans. The Causeway is very safe, but Biscayne Boulevard in the 70's and 80's is not great at night - go there for lunch and see if you like it.

                1. re: Chuck

                  Chuck -- Was this place called Pizzafiore? Really tight inside, if you want to sit down you basically have to sit in the window?

                  Yeah, they were pretty good. . .a little gooey, but not bad for a late-night stop when my pizza-friend and I were wandering. The owners didn't seem Cuban, but we weren't really paying attention. (Mostly because it was very late and it was the only place open in a rather sketchy area.)

                  1. re: Covert Ops

                    Yeah, that's it. And, you're right. Its real iffy after dark. Pizza is pretty good - Don't short change you on the cheese, if that's your thing. After a slice, you can go to the movies - the Pink Pussycat is right down the block. They've been trying to shut it down for 30 years to no avail! What a neighborhood.

                    But, for me, it's Steve's Pizza up the road at 123rd and Biscayne. Also, a truly fantastic bakery in the strip shopping center where Roadhouse Grill is - HOUNDS, GO THERE!!

                    Incredible brick oven breads and great pastries - the best in South Florida. Its about 127th and Biscayne Blvd. Oh, and don't forget the butter!!