Overrated Eats: Pizza Rustica
People seem to really like Pizza Rustica; seats at the three South Beach venues are almost always filled. Zagat readers praise its "fantastic selection of unusual pizzas" with "gourmet toppings" that yield a "stomach-filling and rewarding experience."
What can we say? Sometimes there is just no explaining popular taste.
The pizzeria serves Roman-style pies -- as in the bulky rectangular slices are so large they roam across two plates. It is true that one slice can sate you and two can be called a hearty dinner, and that the price ($4.95) is not unreasonable (if gauging it by-the-pound). But all in all we'd prefer a one-plate pizza with fresh, bubbling mozzarella steaming above a puffy, slightly charred crust coming fresh from the oven.
Lukewarm $3 Margherita pie.
At Rustica, the lineup of pizzas along the counter, behind glass panels, makes a mockery of the very notion of freshness. The motto should be: You've tried pizza straight from the hearth...now try some that's been reheated after sitting around for a few hours!
What gourmet toppings do we find? A whole bunch of stuff that doesn't belong on pizza: corn, pineapple, chicken parmesan, and salad garnishes, which includes one pie doused with Caesar dressing.
The Washington Avenue pizzeria is the original; it debuted in May of 1996. But Pizza Rustica is a grander operation than most people realize. There are 17 locations altogether, including branches in Broward and Palm Beach counties, California, Michigan, Texas, and Paris. Somehow we're not surprised at the lack of outlets in Italy and New York City.
863 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
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