Pizza Crawl – Downtown

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Tonight was the first pizza crawl organized by Frodnesor of Food for Thought blog.  He proposed the crawl after some animated discussion on Chowhound about the best pizza in Miami.  Tonight we focused on downtown.  We tried Joey’s, Pizza Volante, and Andiamo.

It was refreshing to see a group of people execute something from idea to reality so quickly and efficiently.  As Peter the bartender said, “These are experienced eaters.”  There were fifteen people, including Chowhound Miami participants and random bloggers.  The advantage of such a large group is that you get to taste a broad variety; in all we sampled 12 pizzas.  Cash is ideal for this kind of event.

Joey’s * 2506 NW 2nd Avenue * Miami * $14-$15 per pizza (8 slices)

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I liked the crust at Joey’s (in Wynwood) best.  It was thin, but with a crisp base, and a good flavor.  At Joey’s,  we tried the margherita, which was okay.

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We also tried the Joey, their specialty, which was topped with tuna, spicy salami, gorgonzola, capers, and spinach.  Since there were so many of us, we cut the pizza into really thin slices, so I’m not sure I got all of that on my slice, but what I tried was satisfying.  Tuna is a bold topping for pizza, and this was something I would try again.

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The carbonara pizza was my favorite pizza at Joey’s, although I have not tried the carbonara at Spris yet, which was highly recommended by another diner.  It was topped with bacon, eggs, mozzarella, and asparagus.

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I had a second favorite at Joey’s, which was the dolce e piccante pizza.  This one is for folks with a sweet tooth: figs, gorgonzola cheese, honey and hot pepper.  The strongest flavor was the honey, but I loved the strong, fresh taste; it was not cloying.  This would be a good pizza or dessert to share with a group.

Pizza Volante * 3918 North Miami Avenue * Miami * $9-$12 per pizza (8 slices) (NOW CLOSED)

Pizza Volante had the best cheeses and my two favorite toppings out of all three restaurants.  This Jonathan Eismann restaurant opened last week in the Design District.  Mr. Eismann was there tonight.

I found the crust on their pizzas to be too thin and cracker-like for my taste.  Actually, I felt like I couldn’t really taste it.  Maybe that’s the point, because the toppings really stood out, without being salty or overpowering.  However, they did just change their crust recipe today, and considering Pizza Volante just opened, it’s not fair to pass judgment yet.

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My favorites at Pizza Volante were the Volante 100 and the Bianca.  I love the idea of the Volante 100–a daily special topped with ingredients from a hundred mile radius.  Dandelion greens, tomatoes, and arugula topped today’s pizza. Those dandelion greens were fresh and fabulous.

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I don’t usually order pizza biancas, but the combination of both flavorful cheeses swayed me.  It was topped with Chenel goat cheese, fontina, locally-made mozzarella, and arugula.

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The margherita de bufala DOP was good, but not striking.

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The cacciatorini (“little hunter”) was patterned with pepperoni and guanciale, giving it an earthy, smoky flavor.  It was also made with tomato and local mozzarella.  I probably didn’t pick it for one of my favorites because I usually prefer more-vegetable heavy pizzas.  I would definitely try it again.

Andiamo * 5600 Biscayne Boulevard * Miami * $10-$17 per pizza (8 large slices)

After the second slice at Andiamo, my fortitude lagged.  Also, after the more subtle and varied flavors of the two previous restaurants, I felt like the overriding flavor at Andiamo was saltiness.  I found both the putanesca and the soprano pizzas to be very salty.  I’ve eaten at Andiamo twice before and don’t remember it being so salty and greasy. Perhaps compared to the other two restaurants, those features stood out.

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The putanesca was topped with black olives (as opposed to the kalamatas listed on the menu), capers, anchovies, red chile flakes, tomato sauce and mozzarella.

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The soprano was heavy on the meats: hot and sweet Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, tomato sauce, parmesan, and mozzarella.

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My favorite pizza at Andiamo was the Popeye, which was topped with a good helping of spinach, tasty sliced roma tomatoes, tomato sauce, ricotta, and basil.  I did not notice the ricotta so much, and Paula of Mango & Lime mentioned that there is usually more spread about the pizza.

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I also enjoyed the Genovese, which had rosemary potatoes, pancetta, caramelized onions, mozzarella and gorgonzola.  The potatoes and thicker Andiamo crust were a heavy prospect before my withering appetite, so I didn’t really do that slice justice.

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Jonathan Eismann behind the counter at Pizza Volante. /David Samayoa

Of all of the pizza places we tried today, I would most likely return to Pizza Volante.  Many items on the blackboard menu intrigued me, including the pasta dishes, braised short ribs with potato gnocchi, and the mozzarella bar.  The foods in the display cases, including tomatoes and fried zucchini looked so bright and appealing.  I’m also curious to check out future Volante 100 flavors. One diner wondered what might be on the pizza this summer-Papaya? Mango?

It looks like the next crawl will cover the north of Miami. I’m looking forward to it…

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13 Responses to “Pizza Crawl – Downtown”

  1. JD
    May 28, 2009 at 2:44 am #

    I checked South Florida MenuPages and I was not able to see the carbonara pizza at Spris, but I was able to find it at Piola (although Piola’s version does not have asparagus).

  2. May 28, 2009 at 7:35 am #

    Great recap and great pictures – it was nice meeting in person last night. Looking forward to Round II. I’ve started a new thread on the Chow Florida board to see what the chowhounds have to say.

  3. May 28, 2009 at 7:36 am #

    I wish I could have made it ,it looks like a great time.

  4. May 28, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    Great recap!

  5. May 28, 2009 at 9:11 am #

    Good idea. Pizza is an American staple and deserves attention. I tend to favor the more traditional, low-budget style, like at Mario the Baker. They have a good rivalry with Steve’s in North Miami.

  6. May 28, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    This was a ridiculously awesome idea. I’m hungry now.

  7. May 28, 2009 at 4:04 pm #

    Yo JD, here you go…

    Carbonara
    Tomato sauce, mozzarella, Pancetta, sunny side up eggs, Parmesan and black peppar (taken from the Spris website, incorrect spelling and all hehe)

    I agree that Pizza Volante was the best overall. I did like Joey’s crust better (for some reason I kept confusing the two when we discussed later last night but your post reminded me which I preferred) but I thought that was just due to flavor. Then again, Im a thin crust kinda guy and like when the crust takes a back seat to the flavors of the ingredients. My favorite overall was the cacciatorini, followed by the volante 100. I think you mightve found teh puttanesca to be salty at Andiamo because it was loaded with anchovies and capers which are pretty salty. I kinda liked that. I also liked the genovese but it was LOADED with garlic. Andiamo was 3rd place, however, I think if you had 4 people eating a pie you would be most full at Andiamo because of the crust and generous toppings.

    Thanks for taking photos and posting. It was nice meeting you and the rest of the gang.

  8. trina
    May 28, 2009 at 10:55 pm #

    Thanks for your two cents everyone….looking forward to the next crawl!

  9. Dave
    May 29, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    This was an extremely fun outing and I’m happy to have participated! Great food and great people. I’d have to say that the cacciatorini at Pizza Volante and the dolce e piccante at Joey’s were my favorites. The dolce e piccante was a nice surprise, a nice mix of flavors, though word on the street is that most people don’t seem to like this one. The genovese at Andiamo deserves an honorable mention, garlic notwithstanding. Overall, I’d say Pizza Volante was my favorite, though Joey’s came in a close second.
    Until next time!

  10. FG
    September 22, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    You guys made me hungry, I am definitely trying Pizza Volante this week. I suggest you guys visit Siamo, it is in located in Miami Springs, great pizza!

    I believe this is their website http://www.siamopizza.com

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] Check out Miami Dish’s recap and much better photos here. [...]

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