Though Miami is home to all kinds of pizzerias, Michael Liebowitz always felt a longing for the New-York-style pies he grew up on.
"Almost everywhere you go in Miami, you have to order a whole pie. I wanted also to have the option to walk into a pizza parlor and order a soda and two slices," says the entrepreneur and real estate investor, who bought 50 percent of the Mondrian hotel in South Beach last December. "The thin-crusted, crispy kind that's more about the sauce than the cheese, but is still light, and you can eat it on the go if you want."
Liebowitz will offer the pies of his childhood in Staten Island when Frankie Nono's opens June 1 in Miami Beach. The concept will also pay tribute to the Italian heritage of pizzaiolo Frankie Fratto, formerly of Joe & Pat's Pizzeria and Restaurant, who moved to Miami from Staten Island in January to helm the restaurant's kitchen.
"I grew up with my Calabrese grandmother cooking everything in her home kitchen," says Fratto, adding that his fascination for pies goes beyond a mix of enticing flavors. "I don't make my pizza just for it to taste good. I make it because I love the whole process behind it. Bringing together the fresh dough, coating it with the made-from-scratch fresh tomato sauce, topping it with the mozzarella cheese we grate."
Located at the corner of 16th street next to Bodega, the 1,100-square-foot space will have a rustic, old-school look of brick-lined walls and an open-view kitchen. Initial hours will be noon to midnight, but Liebowitz says his goal is to keep the ovens hot until 4 a.m.
The menu of round, Calabrese-style pies includes a mozzarella and thinly sliced tomato pizza topped with pesto sauce ($6 slice/$18 large pie); shiitake and button mushrooms in a light plum tomato sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano, ($7 to $20); and fresh mozzarella and basil nestled in a bed of vodka sauce ($7 to $19).
Guests will be able to chow down on fresh-cut homemade fries ($8), Buffalo chicken wings ($15), and Frankie's secret garlic knots ($8). Sandwich options such as chicken parmigiana served on garlic bread ($8) and Frankie's 16th Street with grilled vegetables, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic glaze ($12) round out the offerings.
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Desserts include Nutella pie ($13) and gelato ($6). The beverage list consists of sodas, iced tea, and wines and beers by the glass.
Liebowitz says the opening, despite the pandemic and limitations of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez's guidelines, will be a well-orchestrated affair. Frankie Nono's will debut with a slice window and socially distanced takeout and delivery and gradually incorporate dine-in service.
"The restaurant has been on the drawing board since last year. We're now working on adapting it to the world we are living in today," he says. "I'm not worried because every business I started was during challenging times. Our industry has been decimated, I'm happy I'm able to invest money and offer jobs right now."
Frankie Nono's. 1222 16th St., Miami Beach; 305-514-1699; frankienono.com. Opening June 1 for takeout and delivery.