Let's just get this out of the way: We despise cauliflower. We've hated it since we were kids. It's hard and crumbly and ghostly and everything a vegetable shouldn't be. But boy did we get a surprise when we were pushed to eat 'em atop an Anthony's Coal Fired pizza last week.
"Everybody hates cauliflower," the restaurant's founder, Anthony Bruno, concedes. "But it works great on a pizza." Recently, the chain introduced a cauliflower pizza on every Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza menu -- that's nearly 30 locations in all. So how is it that an ingredient so detested can get that much play? Well, it's all in the way the chefs work the florets. "They're roasted beforehand in olive oil," Bruno explains. The pies feature no tomato sauce. What arrives is a crispy crust cradling earthy and soft, but not mushy, cauliflower florets; salty and warm stringy mozzarella; and crunchy breadcrumbs. It's a filling mouthful that comes with the added bonus of knowing you are making your mama happy.
Speaking of mamas, it was Bruno's grandmother who inspired the pizza. Her Sicilian recipe for pasta with cauliflower is the most popular dish at Bruno's original restaurant, Anthony's Runway 84 in Fort Lauderdale, so he just thought it was ripe for translation.
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The pizzas come in three sizes: a lunch-sized option is available until late afternoon at $9.50, and diners can always get a small for $16.50 and a large for $19.50.
Now as for what to drink with a few slices of your new favorite pie, executive chef Michelangelo Mozzicato says, "The cauliflower pizza goes great with a variety of craft beers, from Sierra Nevada or Redhook IPA at the Pinecrest location to Magic Hat #9 in Fort Lauderdale and Brooklyn One in Miami Lakes." Wha? Oh yeah, we forgot to mention that all the locations are now offering craft beers, too, and each site has its own list.
If you find yourself truly addicted, a side of roasted cauliflower is available, too. But if you want to mix your pizza up and add a little sausage or mushrooms, fuhgetaboutit. Bruno says, "We don't like anyone messin' wid it. You want it, or you don't want it."