"What's your favorite restaurant?" That question, recently batted around at our weekly editorial meeting, got us all thinking. If we had to choose one favorite at gunpoint, what would that restaurant be, and why? Each week, a different Short Order blogger will celebrate his or her favorite eatery -- be they celebrity-chef-driven or a neighborhood hole-in-the-wall. Why? Because we're tired of having to explain our favorite dining spots at cocktail parties and weddings.
About six months ago, before I started writing for Miami New Times, I won tickets for Marc Vetri's pop-up at Harry's Pizzeria via a contest on Short Order. Back then, I was working full-time at an art gallery (I studied art history in college), but was spending most of my time either cooking in my tiny kitchen or writing for my even tinier food blog.
I knew food was my passion. It had been obvious ever since I was 15, when I first started developing recipes for my high school's newspaper. I'd eventually skip beach trips while I was back home in the Dominican Republic, and instead I'd spend hours shadowing Italian chefs at my family's restaurants. I'd peel shrimp and chop onions. Mostly, I'd just get yelled at in Italian.
So, when I was headed to that pop-up dinner at Harry's, I wasn't sure which path I wanted to take: cooking or writing.
The pop-ups are served family-style, and guests are seated next to strangers for the entirety of the meal. During that dinner, I was seated next to James Beard award-winning chef, Andrew Carmellini. It was kind of like a tween girl being seated next to Taylor Swift, except I didn't make him sign my guitar.
Carmellini and I chatted about everything food-related: what Miami needs versus what Miami has, new up-and-coming restaurants and, also, food writing. In the process, I caught glimpse of the food scene I wanted to become a part of. After the dinner, and one too many bottles of wine, he had unknowingly helped me select my path. I knew then that I wanted to become a food writer.
Panther Coffee cold brew latte
At Harry's Pizzeria, the pizza is great, the beers are plentiful and chef de cuisine Manny Sulbaran's daily dinner specials are always delectable. The monthly pop-ups with award-winning chefs don't hurt either (full disclosure: I also used to blog for The Genuine Kitchen, the blog for The Genuine Hospitality Group).
My unrelenting respect for Michael Schwartz adds to the lure. My love for Hedy Goldsmith -- and her chocolate chunk cookies -- is also what keeps me going back. But, quite simply, Harry's is special because it's where this entire journey started out for me.
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This neighborhood pizzeria has good food at good prices. Most of all though, it has really good people. So that's why, on most Friday nights, you'll probably catch me eating a slice and drinking a beer at Harry's.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.