If I ever own a restaurant, it would be a lot like Pizzeria Oceano. Located in a sleepy beach town in Palm Beach County called Lantana, the teeny restaurant only accepts cash. The menu changes daily. The dining room? It's a wooden deck lined with benches and potted herbs, all crowned with string lights. The restaurant feels like a summertime party on your best friend's porch.
Well, except for one difference: Pizzeria Oceano bakes some really fantastic pies.
Over the last few years, the Lantana spot has garnered a zealous following. So when Lucali, the Sunset Harbour outpost of Mark Iacono's famed Brooklyn pies, made its debut in March, comparisons started spewing from pizza cognoscenti's mouths.
Last week, we printed our review of Lucali. This weekend, I drove the 60 miles to Lantana to find out: Who bakes the better pie?
For $24 at Lucali, you get a 24-inch plain pie. It features a bubbly crust that's thin and crisp but sturdy enough to fold. Crested with whole basil sprigs, the pies employ both mozzarella di bufala and Parmigiano-Reggiano. For $1.50, you can order a side dish of the place's tomato sauce. If you're smart, you'd order a dozen orders to-go. Then you'd smother it onto everything in your fridge.
At about 14-inches, Pizzeria Oceano's basic pie is smaller and doughier than Lucali's. It costs $16 with add-ons available at an extra price. (There are special pies on the menu, too. But add-ons are not permitted on those.) The basic combine housemade mozzarella with pecorino Romano, whole basil leaves, and a generous drizzle of olive oil.
On my visit, there was too much olive oil. And the inner crust of my pie was slightly droopy -- perhaps from excess sauce, cheese, oil, or all three.
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Which is why I think Lucali takes the prize. Sure, Pizzeria Oceano is an amazing local's spot with great pizza. It gets bonus points for making its mozzarella in-house and, also, for prohibiting take-out. (Time, apparently, diminishes the quality of pies.) I'll probably stop there for dinner whenever I'm in the area -- and if I ever open a restaurant, I'd run it just like this.
Lucali's firm crust and delectable sauce, however, still make it my number one.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.