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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The margherita de bufala DOP was good, but not striking.
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.
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.
The soprano was heavy on the meats: hot and sweet Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, tomato sauce, parmesan, and mozzarella.
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.
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.
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…