Lucali: Pricey, Classy Pizza in Sunset Harbour
It's dusk on a Saturday, and I'm asking Javier, the waiter, to add $8 artichokes to my $24 pizza. The Colombian 20-something with a Salvador Dalí mustache squats in front of my table, strokes his whiskers, and looks cool.
billwisserphoto.com The classiest pizza in town.
"One calzone with shallots and porcini," he parrots. "And a pie with garlic, basil, and artichokes."
I order a few beers and try not to think about the bill, which already exceeds $60. At Lucali, a 4-month-old pizza place in South Beach's Sunset Harbour, I dread the check like Amanda Bynes fears the tabloids. In front of Javier and his mustache, though, I can't lose my composure. He's just so damn cool.
A group of women wearing skimpy beach coverups and Panama hats saunters in off the street and sits nearby. "Whoo!" hoots a brunette who comments on Javier's facial hair. He grins and, hoisting a notepad, scribbles their order: wine, calzones, pies, and many, many artichokes.
billwisserphoto.com Fennel salad.
"OMG. They have Nutella pizza!" she squeals. Her bill is approaching hundreds of dollars -- either she doesn't mind or she doesn't know yet.
But I do know. I've been visiting Lucali, the Miami outpost of Mark Iacono's famed Brooklyn flagship, since it opened. In May 2009, GQ's Alan Richman ranked the original location's product among America's best pies. The South Beach restaurant, run by Iacono's cousin Dominic Cavagnuolo, has pies -- and prices -- worthy of the crown.
And a lot of people pay those prices. Trek past the warren of yachts at Sunset Harbour Marina to visit Lucali on a weekend, and here's what you will likely see: shy couples passive-aggressively squabbling over the last slice; a kid reading a flipbook about the Beatles while his parents drink white wine; a gray-haired pair paying more attention to their smartphones than each other. At first sight, Lucali looks like a regular pizza joint.
Furnishings seem unassuming -- mismatched tables and chairs, an open kitchen, a working bench occupied by pizza-makers in white T-shirts -- but by candlelight, everything glows. Men clad in cotton shine with sweat as they use empty wine bottles to roll dough.