Italians know their way around a pizza. Hundreds of years before the first NYC pizzeria was hawking slices to harried commuters, Italy's poor were eating it in the streets. In fact, the citizens of this European country are so serious about the craft that they have their own authority on all things pizza -- the Associazione Pizzerie Italiane (API).
Romans, in particular, are masters at creating a style of light, crisp crust topped with gourmet edibles that puts most American versions to shame.
Luckily for Miamians, two men have brought the Roman tradition to downtown in the form of Pizzarium, an East Flagler Street beacon for hungry cube-dwellers.
Co-owners Fernando Rendina and Massimiliano Saieva had a vision of bringing healthy, unique pizza true to Roman tradition to Miami, and they stuck to it when sourcing ingredients and crafting their menu.
Saieva, who's spent 15 years in kitchens across Italy and Venezuela, is a member of the API, and the duo even brought in one of the association's champions (yes, Italy has pizza champions) to assist with the opening. Their vegetables, dairy, and dried fruit are all organic. Other ingredients, including mozzarella, burrata mozzarella, olive oil, etc., are Italian DOC (denominazione di origine controllata -- a quality-control standard).
The dough rises for 96 hours (about 94 hours longer than that at your standard pizzeria). The limited amount of yeast and extended rising time lead to an almost focaccia-like crust, albeit not as thick -- lightly crisp on the bottom, soft and airy on top. The pies are square -- sheet-pan-style -- as are the slices.
Pizza varieties include appealingly unique fusions such as the earthy funghetto -- a blend of mozzarella, porcini mushrooms, oregano, garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil infused with truffle oil. Or the sweet and savory zucca gialla -- a mix of pumpkin cream, round pancetta, smoked scamorza cheese, and parsley.
They also offer some of the more popular flavor combinations, including Margherita and Caprese. There are a whopping 27 varieties, and the options will rotate out regularly. Not all will be available at all times, but guests can always count on a robust assortment.
Though the establishment stocks standard pizza accouterments such as red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese, it does so grudgingly.
"I almost cringe when I see people pile it on, often without tasting it first," Rendina says. "That can make it lose the subtleties of flavors."
Every week will bring new recipe twists, and they plan to experiment with uncommon combos, including grapes with cheese and pumpkin cream, amaretto di Saronno, and Parmigiano.
The duo plans to post specials on Facebook, and they'll be tweeting soon too.
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So stop by for a satisfying slice of Roman tradition. Your Papa John's-weary taste buds will thank you.
By-the-slice prices range from $3 to $5.50, and full trays from $24 to $46. They deliver for a $2 charge (no minimum order amount), and hours are Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 4 to 10 p.m. You can reach them at 305-381-6025 or find them online at pizzarium-us.com and facebook.com/pizzarium.us.