Miami's Best Pizza: Joey's, Fratelli la Bufala, and Rack's
I am not one of those New Yorkers who go on and on about how you can't find a decent slice of pizza in this town, and how the pies they serve here would be banned from the borough of Brooklyn, and how they are so very very disgraceful that they might even be banned from Queens -- and, as I say, on and on. Instead, I simply suffer in silence.
That's not to say there aren't many good pizzas to be found; there just aren't any great pizzas. Who cares? New York has better pizza and smellier streets. Life is a trade-off, and much too short to worry about such matters. Let's enjoy what we have, which are five fine places to indulge in tasty pizza -- plus at our favorite, Steve's Pizza, Best Pizza winner of Best of Miami 2011.
Pizzas pulled from a brick hearth in the quaint 70-seater boast thin, crackly crust with flavorful tomato sauce and mozzarella cheeses proportioned just right -- a quietly enjoyable pie. A louder thrill comes via the pie topped with figs, gorgonzola, honey, and red pepper flakes. Chef Ivo Mazzon is from Veneto, so no surprise he knows how to make a fine pie. Best Inexpensive Italian Restaurant in 2009.
4. Fratelli la Bufala
Since opening on South Beach in 2004, Fratelli has developed a loyal local following buttressed by tourists who spot the place on the busy intersection of Fifth Street and Washington Avenue. Mozzarella di bufala is, as the name suggests, the melting cheese of choice, and that's as good a base cheese as you'll find. Crusts are thin but pliable, and lightly charred, red sauce has a deep tomato flavor, and with the bufala cheese and fresh basil you've got a faultless margherita pie. Want to get fancy shmancy? There are sixteen fetching garnishes to consider.
3. Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza
There are quite a few of these around -- in Doral, Kendall, Pinecrest, Broward, Palm Beach, and the one we go to on in Sunny Isles. All specialize in coal-fired pizzas advertised as "well done" -- which translates to assertively charred, bubbly and blackened crusts. That's what an 800F coal-burning oven will do (it takes about 4 minutes to cook each pie). The sauce and cheese are standard, but with the contrast of the crust you've got a distinctively tasty pizza. Chicken wings are good too -- good enough, in fact, to cop Best Chicken Wings 2011.
2. Rack's Italian Kitchen
This 155-seat trattoria with outdoor waterside deck is obviously more than just a pizza joint. But the pies here are the highlight of the menu. The choice is between four white pie variations and four types with red sauce. The crust, sort of oval-shaped and seared in a 600-degree hearth, is crisp, chewy and lightly bilstered, with a perfectly puffy rim. You can't go wrong with the basic, topped with mild tomato sauce, fiore di latte and Reggiano cheeses, olive oil, basil, and crackles of sea salt. Our favorite white is lusty with smoked mozzarella and Reggiano cheeses and laced with spinach and wisps of prosciutto.
1. Frankie's Pizza
The sign on Bird Road makes it look more like a carnival ride than a pizza place, but Frankie's delivers the goods. You won't come here for ambiance -- the parking lot exudes more charm. There's no beer or seats, but the airy, slightly chewy round of crust is like a fresh-baked bread from Little Italy. The "World's Finest Italian Pizza" is how it's billed, and the fourth generation of Pasquarella family is still going strong (Frankie's started in 1955, and has been at the present location since 1957). Plus you can buy a "half-baked" pie and finish it at home. Winner of our 2007 Best Pizza.
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