There are some things Miami has way too many of: bad face-lifts, douchey clubs, and godawful drivers. Other things -- not nearly enough, such as small businesses, friendly people, and good pizza. Luckily, Pauloluigi To Go is bringing the latter three back to Coconut Grove.
Co-owner Paul Shalaj has operated various eateries around Miami since the '80s, and he's served some of Miami's most notable, including onetime Heat player Bruce Bowen and Magic Johnson. Now he's back in action offering delicious Italian eats at a new spot: 2859 Bird Ave.
The homey little outpost is helmed by Shalaj (a superfriendly dude whose 30 years in Miami haven't diminished his New York accent), plus partners Noel Metales and Alexander Krasnic.
Shalaj says a lot of local folks remember him and are returning for a fix now that he's back in the 33133.
"It's like when you haven't seen an old friend in a long time and you're like, 'Oh my God!' I'm very overwhelmed by the people, the response. It's phenomenal," Shalaj says.
As far as serving New York-style pizza, Shalaj says a lot of people are skeptical -- but he makes believers out of them.
"It's all in who makes it. I've been long enough in this business to know the ins and outs. I'll compare my pizza with any pizza place in New York, no problem."
Pauloluigi To Go's extensive menu includes Italian staples such as garlic rolls (six for $2.75), caprese salad ($7.95), fettuccine Alfredo ($11.95), chicken Parm ($12.50), cheese calzones ($6.50), plus New York-style pizza ($12.50 for an 18-inch cheese pie). Can't beat those prices, either.
They also have specialty pies such as white ($17.95 for an 18-inch), Margherita ($14.50 for an 18-inch), and Hawaiian ($16.95 for an 18-inch), as well as a myriad of toppings, including broccoli, eggplant, black olives, anchovies, and fresh basil.
Shalaj recommends the manicotti ($10.95) and stuffed shells ($10.95) (both stuffed by hand, never frozen), linguine with white clam sauce ($12.95), and shrimp Parmesan ($14.95), and adds that the shrimp Parm was Bruce Bowen's fave.
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Shalaj is happy to tell interesting tales from his years in the biz. He says Magic Johnson once told his son: "You got a great father -- he's fed me many great meals."
Now that's a recommendation worth heeding. So go get your pizza on already.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahalexs.