Now more than ever, Miami is attracting its fair share of pizza joints, running the gamut from traditional Neapolitan to New York-style to inventive gourmet.
Between football games and coronavirus-induced isolation, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself wanting to stay home in your sweats with a pizza So New Times anonymously sampled three of Miami’s most buzzworthy pizzas to see how they fared from oven to home.
Below, listed in alphabetical order, are our findings.
Bonci Pizza (232 NW 24th St., Miami; 786-522-2135; bonciusa.com), which originated in Rome, was praised by Anthony Bourdain during a 2011 episode of The Layover. Owner Gabriele Bonci expanded his Roman empire, opening a pizza shop in Chicago a few years back before adding a spot in Wynwood in November.
Bonci bakes some interesting Roman pizzas, including spicy shrimp and eggplant, and salmon burrata, on dough that takes 72 hours to rise. Walk in and choose from a daily rotation; the staff cuts the slices with scissors and charges you by the pound.
Delivery, though, is a different story.
Flavors are limited to standards — four meat, three vegetarian, and three vegan — and you can only order in pairs of slices that read like a sports cheer: two ($7.50-$13), four ($15-$26), or eight ($30-$52). This hurts the wallet pretty quickly. On the plus side, the “Slice” app allows you to specify both time and how you want your pizza: “Finish Here So It’s Delivered Hot Ready to Enjoy” or “Finish At Home So It’s Nice & Hot When You Want It.”
This would be great if it worked, but it all arrived 15 minutes early at the same slab-of-pavement crust texture and Miami-winter-day temperature in the same pizza box (vegans take note). Each slice, from the vegan mushroom to the all-beef meatball version, tasted stale. The most intriguing, the lemon ricotta zucchini pizza, was the blandest.
David Foulquier closed down his namesake restaurant downtown in order to open Eleventh Street Pizza (1035 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 786-536-2749; eleventhstreetpizza.com) this past February, with his brother Joshua and Danielle Hultman as partners.
Pizza combinations range from classic to contemporary, made with organic Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes and a sourdough crust from a seven-year-old “mother.” The 16-inch New York-style pies and a Sicilian square-style (16 slices) are pricey ($24-42), but they’re also sturdy enough to survive both delivery and reheating with a resounding crunch. You can also order the Sicilian by the slice, which is big enough for two to share.
There isn’t a lot of variety — five round and four Sicilian options — but the pepperoni version, ramped up with Calabrian chili paste and tempered by honey, is a clear winner. So is a vegan pie, “la Provençal,” which reinterprets ratatouille with confit garlic, roasted red onions, zucchini, basil, and pepperoncini. For basics, you can order the “Carmine Cheese,” but the adventurous should try the “Brooklyn Cheese,” an upside-down version where the sauce lies atop the cheese. An endearing side note: A complication developed in our Uber delivery. Rather than shrug it off, the restaurant contacted both the app and the customer to offer a solution.
Sagra Pizza Bar (11052 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-384-4759; sagrapizzabar.com) also opened during the pandemic. Sagra offers Roman pies, cooked outdoors for two to three minutes at 700 degrees in an imported, wood-fired Valoriani oven.
The 15 affordable, personal-size options (all $12) range from a savory meatball and fior di latte to a Miami Cuban pizza topped with prosciutto cotto, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard.
Even via delivery, the pizzas are pretty packages, with whole clams still in the shell adorning the vongole and the grilled shrimp, spicy artichoke, and arugula an appealing contrast to the eye. The problem is the crust, which transforms into a misshapen sponge in the cardboard box.
Reheating these pies is also a major problem, given that the crust flops through the oven grates, allowing the toppings to drop off the sides. This is the sort of pizza you should consume on-premises within minutes of firing, not 30 to 45 minutes later — unless you enjoy picking up clams from the bottom of your oven.