Lucali in SoBe: Miami's Best Pizza

Categories: The Critic

lucali pizza.jpg
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Lucali in SoBe: One pizza, seven possible toppings, starting at $26.
In a city jammed with outposts of overhyped New York restaurants, Lucali in South Beach is an exception. At the pizzeria on Bay Road, just a few steps from the Pubbelly mecca, pizza-makers wearing white T-shirts roll out doughs with empty wine bottles, cut porcini mushrooms with a mandolin slicer, and scoop dollops of fresh ricotta from a tiny tub.

Outside, there's no sign. Inside, there's no menu. The spot serves calzones and a single pie, dubbed "plain pie." There are seven choices for toppings, including shallots, onions, peperoni, mushrooms, and extra basil. There's a four-topping maximum per pie. When it comes to drinks, there's a choice of only red or white wine, as well as on-tap Brooklyn beers.

At Lucali, 20-inch pizzas are made by candlelight, and the entire restaurant glows. Maybe it's the glim. Or maybe it's because Lucali serves the best pizza in town.

Like its original location in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, Lucali is simple and straightforward. Mark Iacono, who opened the original New York restaurant around 2006, has developed a reputation as one of the country's best pizza-makers. In GQ, Alan Richman proclaimed it the second-best pizza in America.

As was reported by Miami Pop Media, Iacono has partnered with his cousin Dominic Cavagnuolo to launch the SoBe location, which opened to friends and family February 25. It's the restaurant's first expansion past the five boroughs.

Iacono is widely regarded as a perfectionist. Pizza-making is his obsession. His tomato sauce is a long-kept secret. (Many patrons order bowls of it on the side. It's really that good.) Pizzas are topped with sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil sprigs, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Unlike other pizzerias in Miami, these pies aren't goopy messes of watery cheese withering atop mushy crusts. At this pizza place, a perfect mix of fresh and aged cheeses makes for a perfect pie. Lucali's pizzas have crisp edges spotted with slightly charred bubbles. A crunchy crust and soft center make slices pliable enough to fold. Forks and knives are not necessary.

Lucali is not cheap. The plain pie starts at $26. Toppings are extra. Portobello and shallots go for $3, and artichokes are a whopping $8. But pies are large enough to share between two hungry folks. Perhaps even three. In my case, probably just two.

It's worth it. And even though a chalkboard in the dining room reads, "Grand opening coming soon," last night at 9 p.m., every seat in the pizzeria was occupied.

So before wrangling with me about Lucali making Miami's best pie, check it out for yourself. The shop is located at 1930 Bay Rd. in Miami Beach. Hours are 6 to 10 p.m.

Call ahead, or you might not get a table.

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Location Info

Lucali

1930 Bay Road, Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

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12 comments
fucksouthbeach
fucksouthbeach

HAHAHHA. FUCK that. It's an insult to New York Pizza. A slice in the city should cost no more that $5 TOPS, and it'll beat anything you can get on that soulless island. 

msaieva
msaieva

Best Pizza in Town? PIZZARIUM a Slice of Rome in Downtown Miami! They have the best dough ever, 96 hours of proofing and they have pizzas never seen before (with truffle cream, speck, porcini, bresaola.....). Try their pizza and then we'll talk!

Rissenberg
Rissenberg

That will be $68. Please; not including the tip!

Went there last night and sat in a beautifully lit restaurant with no menu and was greeted by well trained staff! That was the extent of the positives. We ordered a Pizza; half plain and half Pepperoni and shallots (we were told that the pizza was 20" so we planned on taking the plain side home to the kids).

Just a little back ground; been in Miami for 44 years and South Beach for 26; was in the food service business for over 20 years both on ownership and food distribution and was laughing at what the waiter's response to my question as to why there was easily an eight inch crust that had no ingredients on it , "I asked the chef the same question the first time I saw our pizza and he said this is what we serve in Brooklyn." OK!

They boast about a 20" pizza but the obnoxious size of the crust; leaves you with a 12" pizza with ingredients and the rest a crispy cracker needing olive oil to consume.

Here's the kicker; the bill came to $68; for two glasses of chianti and the pizza. $28 for the pizza and a couple of bucks for each additional ingredient, remember we had it on half ($32 total) and $20 for the wine. No wonder they do not have a menu; most people would get up and walk out if they saw the price before they ordered.

I know what your thinking, just suck it up and don't go back if you can't afford it; we eat at all the best restaurants on Miami Beach, a few nights a week and never have a problem with paying even the astronomical if the food is great.

Here, the pizza crust from tip to the beginning of the crust was limp (we only had pepperoni and shallots not a lot of wet vegetables), not like any other wood or coal fire pizza restaurants where you can hold the pizza; the dough was wet, flavor salty and really nothing special or extra ordinary.

My thought, is that they came down here hearing they can take advantage of the South Beach diners and charge $38 for a 12" pizza that may have ingredient costs of $3. Maybe their thought is the only way to make a profit by paying the high rent, labor (including the pizza cook that calls himself a chef (pizza and calzone!, come on chef) is to back into what they are charging us local patrons and see if we will pay it.

I look forward to sharing my experience of a $38, 12" pizza story with everyone I know!

harold_f
harold_f

$26  pie? "Its worth it" lol. 

jgcamp99
jgcamp99

That pizza looks like every other overpriced coal fire oven baked pizza I've been disappointed with. Steve's in NMB is the best Siciallian I've eaten in Miami. As for thin slice, Bari pizza is fine and I've got King's County pizza a few blocks the other direction (Best of Miami) and none of that is $ 26 base model.

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/bestof/2012/award/best-pizza-3315890/

Bob Yard
Bob Yard

Harrys in the Double D is better....

Laine Doss
Laine Doss

I just know that in Naples the original pizza is about six euros.

Xaviant Haze
Xaviant Haze

Lol...nothing compares to pizza rustica...only an idiot with money to burn would open another pizza joint in Miami

Jimbo99
Jimbo99

@Rissenberg While I do demand a higher quality pizza than the $ 10-14 Domino's, catch a Little Caesars when they do put sauce on the pizza and it's a pretty good $ 5 pizza. Otherwise, the frozen food pizza's at Wal-Mart are under $ 7. Especially for mass feeding of children.

My top 3 in NMB, Steve's, Bari & King's County. Anyone buying pizza in South Beach is just getting ripped off. I haven't had a decently priced pizza there since Tutti's closed down around 5th & Collins years ago. It's very sad that one has to leave South Beach for a pizza ?

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