Pizza Pazza, a Neapolitan-style pizzeria on 18th Street at Biscayne Boulevard, is just shy of celebrating its two-month anniversary, yet it already has repeat customers -- including ones straight from Naples, Italy.
We assumed they were locals after we witnessed a lively exchange of air kisses and hugs with chef/owner Salvatore Matuozzo, but he informed us they were tourists simply returning for more. Talk about bragging rights.
Naples-born Matuozzo got his hands dirty in some of New York's finest pizza joints, including Emporio. Most recently, he worked at Fratelli la Bufala in South Beach. Clearly pazza ("crazy" in Italian) for making affordable and authentic pizza, he decided it was time to venture out on his own.
At his intimate restaurant in the Omni neighborhood, the walls are lined with vintage Italian movie posters, which add a homey vibe to the no-frills, industrial-style furnishings. After all, what's an Italian restaurant without at least one homage to Sophia Loren?
Short Order was treated to some bites at Pizza Pazza. Check out what we had:
Buried beneath fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes, and shaved manchego lays prosciutto wrapped in fontina cheese ($9). Named the San Daniele, this is a surprisingly light appetizer punctuated with balsamic glaze for a hint of sweetness.
The cartoccio ($10) is a pizza-like starter, also featuring a hidden treasure in the form of shiitake and chanterelle mushrooms mixed with a favorite of Matuozzo's -- fontina cheese. It's a comforting dish upgraded by black truffles.
The pazza ($20) includes more mushrooms and more black truffles, only this time coupled with mozzarella and ham and presented in the form of a traditional pizza. True to Neapolitan form, the crust is thin with charred bubbles. But in a less conventional move, Matuozzo doesn't add any tomato sauce to this pie.
The barese ($16) uses San Marzano tomatoes, the only kind approved by Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana -- the Neapolitan pizza association. This pie is sweet, tangy, and flavorful on its own, but it comes with plenty of accoutrements: burrata, arugula, cherry tomatoes, speck, and parmesan.
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Because there's no such thing as having too much warm, gooey dough, round off your meal with the nutelino ($8). It's filled with Nutella and mascarpone and drizzled with a strawberry, blackberry, and cinnamon reduction.
Follow Valeria Nekhim on Twitter @ValeriaNekhim