Restaurant Reviews

Ironside Pizza's Neapolitan Pies Shirk Expectations

An American pizza enthusiast might be dismayed in Naples, the Italian city widely accepted as the pie's birthplace. There, diners don't debate whether to fold or not to fold. Instead, the bubbly crusts and thin centers are handled with forks and knives.

The place even hired a pizzaiolo certified by the Italy's pizza police.

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Similar, foot-wide pies await at Ironside Pizza, which TD Restaurant Group (overseer of Brickell's Toscana Divino) opened in late 2014. The quaint place with roughly hewn tables hides in a palm-lined courtyard whose building is nestled among Lemon City warehouses. Despite the charm of Italian-speaking diners smoking cigarettes and clinking wine glasses, Ironside isn't for everyone — handheld-pizza eaters might not be polite enough for the patrons who use utensils. But the pies here are better than most others around town.

"Neapolitan is all about the way the dough is stretched," says Billy Devlin, who oversees the kitchen. "It's not thrown in the air. It's worked on a board to push all the air inside the dough to the far edges." That's what gives each pie its trademark superthin center and crisp crust. Ironside has even gone so far as to hire a pizzaiolo certified by the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, also known as Italy's pizza police, which strictly regulates the production of Neapolitan-style pies around the world.

Regulations call for a dough made with Caputo 00 flour, water, salt, yeast, and a pinch of sugar. The combo spends less than 90 seconds in a wood-burning oven that reaches up to 600 degrees.

Ironside's pies are offered with 11 brutally bare-bones combinations of toppings. Hawaiian and barbecued-chicken enthusiasts need not apply, but those with an open mind won't be disappointed. Savory, stretchy knobs of freshly made mozzarella and tangy tomatoes form the base of a capricciosa ($15) that later gets a layer of salty cotto ham and a few black olives that provide depth and seasoning. The most exotic choice is the tonno e cipolla ($15), which deploys tuna and onions.

You might want to think twice before introducing skeptics to tuna-topped pizza, but if you can convince them pizza should be consumed in a more dignified fashion, they'll soon be eating out of your hand — with a knife and fork, of course.

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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson