Miami Slice

The food: artisanal pizza in Miami Beach

The story:

In my continuing quest to locate sources of excellent pizza worldwide – continent wide? continent long? – I paid a visit to Pizzavolante, a stylish but casual restaurant in Miami’s groovy but not totally gentrified Design District (the used syringe lying on the ground that I almost stepped on while walking to the restaurant from our parking spot was a particularly atmospheric touch).

Everything about Pizzavolante looked promising – the industrial chic decor, the blackboard menu featuring reasonably priced and artfully composed pizzas, paninis, calzones and a selection of fresh mozzarellas, the informal but well-informed waiter, the wine bottles repurposed as carafes for ice cold water, the communal seating at long stainless steel tables, the readily available bottles of artisanal olive oil and shakers of Sicilian sea salt.

We started with a side dish of wood roasted local vegetables, a delicious blend of carrots, eggplant, and zucchini glossed with extra virgin olive oil. The plate was small – it’s billed on the menu as an accompaniment to the fresh mozzarella, but at a price of $2, it was a steal.

Less appealing to my palate was the zucchini fritti, which came battered in what appeared to be a cornmeal crust:

For the main event, I ordered a bianca pizza ($15), made with fontina, local cow’s milk and bufala milk mozzarrella, chenel goat cheese, arugula and thyme.

I wish I could say the pizza was as lovely as its sterling ingredient list suggests it should be, but the flavour of the goat cheese overwhelmed the other cheeses, I detected no hint of thyme, and most of all, I was disappointed by the pizza’s crust, which I found to be overly hard, stiff and crisp. According to press material I read on the restaurant’s website, the owner has been making his pizza crust the same way for years, in the New York style, so maybe my disappointment stems from my unreasonable expectation that artisanal pizza joints will serve a gloriously tangy, chewy, blistered crust of the type I adored at Co. restaurant in New York and have raved about previously in this blog.

I loved the roasted vegetables though. And the Caprese salad that someone ordered down at the end of the table looked amazing – and seemed to feature good tomatoes, despite the winter season – I wish I’d tried it. Maybe next time.

Pizzavolante on Urbanspoon

P.S. I was pleased and flattered to be interviewed recently about my fiction writing and teaching by a thoughtful and articulate blogger named Evadne Macedo. You can read the interview here.

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