Favorite Dishes

Visa-O1, Best New Hidden Gem in South Beach, Has Star Pizza

Pizza in a hidden location just tastes better. We discovered Visa-O1 on the Eat24 app when searching for local delivery options. A look at the address -- on Michigan Avenue just off Lincoln Road -- had us even more curious. There's no restaurant space there.

We decided to scope out the location in person. Across the street from the recently closed Lucky Strike bowling lanes is an unassuming multistory office building. Inside, a person sits on a stool slinging menus for this same mysterious pizzeria.

"Is there really a restaurant here?"

A door opens, and the host leads us to a first-floor restaurant in the back of the building.

Inside sits a row of chairs and people waiting. This restaurant has only a handful of tables, and the dining room takes up less space than the kitchen.

It does exist.

The kitchen door opens, and the aroma of freshly tossed dough and cooked pizza seeps out. We are told it will be a few minutes for a table. The smells are alluring, along with the sounds of '50s rock 'n' roll playing in the background and each table's patrons speaking beautiful Italian. This place is legit. Also, an explanation for the name of the restaurant is scrawled on the wall in Italian and English. It says the O-1 visa is reserved for those who possess "extraordinary ability."

The menu separates the pies into traditional, special, and extraordinary varieties. The Star Luca ($14.90) is shaped like a star, with ricotta stuffed into the corners. Pepperoni, mozzarella, and San Marzano sauce top the pie. It's the best pizza we've had anywhere in Miami, and the crust deserves love sonnets.

The smiling face in the open kitchen may be familiar. It is Renato Viola, who used to toss at Giotto's. And according to our waitress, he is a world-champion master pizza chef and we just missed his tossing show. However, we can taste his mastery.

We also tried the Federica ($12.90), featuring the same crust (although not in star form) topped with ham, artichokes, mushrooms, and black olives. It was also superb but not quite the star. There is also a house-made hot sauce you can request if you like some extra pizzazz.

Some other fun pizza facts: You can get a small pizza for $4.99, they make custom vegan pizzas, and for dessert you can get a Nutella pizza.

We resisted ordering the Nutella pie, but then the kitchen sent out some Nutella-stuffed croissants anyway.

Beyond the pies, there are salads, enormous calzones, and an antipasti and mozzarella bar. We would have stayed and tried more, but our stomachs wouldn't allow it. Besides, we felt guilty. This tiny restaurant has been open only three months, but the hallway was filled with Italians waiting for a slice of this delicious experience.

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Carina Ost