Miami may not have a celebrated regional style of pizza that rivals New York thin-crust or Chicago deep-dish, but the Magic City holds its own when it comes to producing versions of palate-pleasing pies.
What's Italian in origin has become a quintessential U.S. staple — Americans' number one go-to meal that hits the spot unlike any other and makes us salivate simply thinking about it. When made correctly — with a crisp golden crust, an even layer of homemade sauce, melted cheese dripping off the sides, and the freshest toppings — pizza is arguably the greatest gift to mankind.
Just as this democratic food has changed our diet over the years, so too has the local pizza landscape. Newcomers have amassed a following through their innovative creations, while more classic joints try to maintain their reign with no-fail recipes. No matter what you fancy, you'll find a pie that fits you.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
So here's to the naysayers who believe Miami can't make topnotch pizza. One slice from these top ten spots will prove the Magic City takes pizza seriously.
10. Harry's Pizzeria
Michael Schwartz’s signature thin-crust pizzas set the standard in Miami. If you’re indecisive, you’re in luck. Compared to other pizzerias with never-ending pie lists, Harry’s is pretty straightforward and features about ten. Order the short rib variety ($17), topped with Gruyère, caramelized onion, and arugula, or if you’re feeling a little more seafood-centric, try the rock shrimp ($16). Classics such as cheese and margherita make the list, but why be boring when you can be bold, especially with a tall glass of local beer?
Hungry crowds pile into this laid-back, unassuming mainstay for its mammoth, New York-style pizzas. Irresistibly thin crust sets the foundation for specialties such as steak, barbecue chicken, Hawaiian, and veggie. Prices are easy on the wallet — a slice of cheese pizza starts at $4.09, and a 24-inch house pie starts at $23.94. And if pizza isn't your thing, no problem. The submarine sandwiches are not to be missed, and like all things at Casola’s, the portions are huge.
If you live in Westchester or ever find yourself in the area and haven’t had Frankie’s, you haven’t lived. Make an effort to try a slice (or four) at one of Miami’s oldest pizza joints, and you’ll see why it has been in business so long. Since 1955, this no-fuss, classic mom-and-pop pizza shop has been serving Frankie’s devotees its famed square-cut pizzas at rock-bottom prices. Bread emerges from the oven crunchy but still bread-like, and the cheese and toppings are generous without being overindulgent. Clearly, Frankie’s will always be a leader.
7. Ironside Pizza
Why wait to take a trip to Italy when you can experience its cuisine on Miami's Upper Eastside at Ironside Pizza? The same guys behind Brickell’s Toscana Divino are the masterminds behind this hidden gem just west of Biscayne Boulevard. Indulge your craving of wood-fired, authentic Italian pizza recipes, ranging from porcini mushroom to spicy salami, with the freshest ingredients, including the dough, flown in directly from Italy. Gluten-free and vegan options are also available.
6. Proof Pizza & Pasta
The proof is in the pizza at midtown’s Neapolitan-style pizza shop. The pie selection is small but carefully curated and exceptionally executed. Something about Proof Pizza & Pastas’ unmistakable smoky, thin crust gets people going, while best-sellers such as the oxtail pizza ($16), topped with mozzarella, black garlic, caramelized onions, and thyme, keep them coming back for more. The ambiance is charming. Service is helpful. And the desserts are as impressive as the entrées. Cue the monstrous chocolate macaron ice-cream sandwich.
Grab a glass of vino and await your Neapolitan-style pie as it cooks in the wood-fired oven at this industrial-esque Wynwood eatery. It’s both hip and homey, old-school and modern. Guests can enjoy variations of authentic Italian pizza recipes or more creative pies such as the tuna and onion ($13) or bacon and egg ($15). Delectable dessert options and coffees round out the meal. If you’re feeling especially adventuresome after you eat, take a stroll in the neighborhood.
Don’t let the car wash next door distract you. The focus is on this neighborhood joint serving more than 30 gourmet brick-oven pizzas for every palate and party size. Take in the bustling view of Biscayne Boulevard as you dine alfresco on a breezy patio and enjoy favorites such as the New Yorker, made with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, Parmesan, extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh basil, or the Godfather, a meat lover’s paradise topped with sausage, pepperoni, meatballs, and mushrooms. The most recent addition, the "Sunday pie," is also worthwhile for its seamless blend of sweet, spicy, and meaty flavors courtesy of the tomato sauce, pepperoncini, mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, and basil. Regardless of which pie you pick, expect perfection.
No best-of pizza list would be complete without Sunset Harbour’s most popular pizzeria. Just like Mark Iacono’s original location in Brooklyn, Lucali in South Beach is always reliable for its hearty calzones, fresh salads, and mouthwatering plain pie, but that’s if you want to splurge. The 24-inch wood-fired pies start at $24 and come on crisp, thin crusts topped with secret tomato sauce, melted buffalo mozzarella, and shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano. Toppings — which vary from beef pepperoni to portobello mushrooms — cost an additional $3 each. And don't miss the Nutella pie, because what's an extra $15?
2. Visa O-1
Created on the notion that to qualify for an O-1 visa, "the beneficiary must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim," Visa O-1 backs up its tagline by serving “extraordinary pizza” overseen by master pizzaiolo and owner Renato Viola. Hailing from Agropoli, Italy, he’s a world champion in acrobatic pizza and does, in fact, hold a special working visa. His mastery is showcased in a lengthy list of pizzas, but it’s his 13-inch star-shaped “extraordinary pizzas” that outshine them all. Try the Star Luca ($14.90) for a filling blend of pepperoni, mozzarella, and San Marzano tomato sauce with ricotta-stuffed corners.
1. Steve's Pizza
Steve's Pizza has been the master of the slice game since 1974. Whether you go in at noon for lunch or 3 a.m. for drunk pizza, it’s the place to be no matter the hour. No frills or fuss, just bargain brick-oven pizza with a masterful sweet tomato sauce atop a doughy yet simple crust done right. Throw in some baked ziti and a few garlic rolls, and little else is needed to live a happy life. Just ask the loyal customers perpetually packed into the graffitied booths inside this North Miami institution, and they’ll tell you they’ve reached pizza nirvana.
Follow Maureen on Twitter.