Checking Out Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza in Aventura

For too long, I've been hearing everyone raving about how great Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza is. Fans drool over the chicken wings, calling them the best in town. The pizza, too, is described as nothing short of heavenly.

After a recent meal there, I can say I am impressed. But whether I'll be driving back to Aventura (or to one of the other far-away locations) anytime soon -- not so much.

The starter salad, which is meant to be shared, was a substantial portion of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives, chickpeas, and celery. The dressing, however, was overloaded with vinegar. Frankly, the salad from Macaluso's kicks its ass.

As for the wings: If you are on a health bent, these are for you. The chicken is not breaded or deep-fried, as most wings are. Instead, they are grilled in a special 800-degree coal-fired oven and served sans sauce or blue cheese. The only kick they get comes from the accompanying grilled onions, which are served piping-hot on top. In my book, the caramelized onions make the dish, and we ordered an extra batch to enliven the chicken wings.

The pizza is certainly not the Second Coming. But what I did like was the pie's crisp, almost blistery crust (again, from the 800-degree coal-fired oven). Unfortunately, it all got too soggy toward the middle of the pie, perhaps owing to an overload of sauce and cheese. We ordered the eggplant Marino, so the fried eggplant slices probably further weighed down the pizza. Nevertheless, each slice was better than anything I've tasted in Miami thus far. I'd just go lighter on the cheese and sauce next time so that the middle has a chance to crisp up like the crust.

Although Anthony's has the vibe of a neighborhood joint (replete with guests clapping every time a server dropped a tray), they are expanding at breakneck speed. There are 20 locations throughout Florida, plus eateries in Delaware, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Coming soon, according to their website, are ACFP's in New York and New Jersey.

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza
17901 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura

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