Pizza Rustica Challenges Its "Overrated" Status
Pino Piroso and with a freshly-made cheese pizza
After Short Oder called this Miami Beach-based chain an overrated, the oversensitive pizzza makers issued a challenge. "Come on over and check us out. Just see if our stuff ain't fresh...." (Well, to be honest, we're paraphrasing here.)
So we we went behind the facade of the restaurant. Back in the early '90s, owner Pino Piroso says, there were only one or two late night pizza parlors where he could go to after work. They served only cheese, pepperoni, and veggie slices; He wanted to make more creative chow. So he launched Pizza Rustica in 1996 and incorporated eclectic ingredients like grilled chicken and eggplant. His vegetarian wife and lots of SoBe locals were impressed.
Piroso responded thusly to our comment the pizza isn't fresh: "Show me a pizza parlor that doesn't reheat its pizza." It's just efficient, he says, adding that pies are fully sold in 45 minutes tops anyway. And customers can order
full, freshly made pizzas if they so desire.
Lastly, in reference to Short Order's comment the place serves "a hole bunch of stuff that doesn't belong on pizza," about their chocolate
pizza, Piroso explained that schoolkids in Italy eat these after school.
They are a typical treat.
Piroso showed Short Order some of the pizza-making process. Eggplants
and potatoes used in the pizzas are daily doused in extra virgin olive
oil and roasted in the oven. Mushroom gills are cut off, which according
to Piroso most restaurants don't do. Otherwise, pizza preparation is
pretty typical. The atmosphere in the kitchen was calm as restaurant
traffic was slow (it was 3pm). Workers were able to take a second and
Most of the cooking staff comes from Guatemala and came to Miami to
progress economically. Marvin Orellana, who prepares ingredients, has
been working here for two years and likes it. When asked about the pizza,
he said, "Me fascina." (I love it). He particularly savors all the
pizzas topped with chicken. Pizza-maker Juan Garcia prefers the chicken
and corn kind. Similarly a Guatelmalteco, he was originally a baker in
his home country. After having been to many pizza joints across the
Magic City, he can claim that Pizza Rustica makes the best of its kind
in all Miami. He notes that the cooking area is very clean.
Cashier Luis Alderete started working at Pizza Rustica after having
become a fan of its pizza. "It's different, but I love the different
types of ingredients," he told Short Order. "People like variety."
Walking by the restaurant one may confuse it for a club; loud house
music blares outside. Manager Regina Agorio claims that both employees
and patrons love the music. For the former, it helps concentration and
keeps them in a happy mood. Diners enjoy the music and sometimes ask
what is playing. Thankfully they don't erupt in a fist-pumping frenzy.
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