The Purdy Avenue/Sunset Harbor section of SoBe is rapidly evolving from an area of impound yards and warehouse space to a small foodies’ paradise. Now comfortably settled in; Lucali is located at 1930 Bay Rd., right at home amongst heavy hitters like Pubbelly, Burgers & Beers, PB Steak and the new Ice Box; which received Oprah’s praise of the best carrot cake in the U.S.
Lucali’s is modeled on the coal fired brick-oven tradition of Lombardi’s and Grimaldi’s, both Meccas in the pizza lover’s world. In this endeavor, Lucali’s has finely brought, truly delicious New York pizza to the 6th borough, better known as Miami.
This is a simple pizzeria with salads and starters that are meticulously made with the freshest ingredients. The menu is basic and makes it clear what Lucali’s does best, pizza, calzones and salads. The pizza will more than satiate kids and pizza lovers alike and the salads will entice those more ‘carb’ conscious.
First-off, get ready for New York prices, a whopping $24 a pie, but after the first bite any price anxiety melts away in a perfect blend of delicate sauce and mozzarella. The coal fired crust is light, flaky and with a great balance of burned to non-burned areas. Add toppings to suit individual style and all of sudden you are eating at one of the best pizzerias in South Florida.
Where calzones are concerned, there may be no other place serving the calzone as an art form. Stuffed with the perfect ratio of cheese and toppings, the paper thin crust keeps all the gooey goodness in. The larger calzone is easily a dish for two, if not three.
The ‘A-HA’ experience may be the artichokes with stems that have been lightly marinated to a perfect texture and then baked in the stone oven with their heavenly pizza sauce and fresh mozzarella. The plate should be to share but the author ate every single bite and is booking a lunch date there next week.
The Arugula salad with fresh figs, fresh greens and a light olive oil and lemon is a nice balance of pepper and sweetness. The Bufala Salad is mozzarella made from the milk of buffalo and is accompanied by a sprig of basil. It tasted a bit gamey and bitter which is odd because traditionally this cheese is very pleasing.
More importantly, the real pleaser was our server, Fernando. He noticed the lack of enthusiasm for the dish, and asked in all sincerity why? Kudos to you Fernando. Fernando has been our server twice and is very articulate, accommodating and wonderful with children.
The front area has an industrial feel with concrete walls covered in soft gray and blue hues and a glass garage door. The back room is larger and opened to the brick oven which looks more like a stage or performance art space for the ‘pizzaioli’.
This relaxed ‘Brooklyn meets farmhouse’ decor creates a great ambiance. The beer and wine list have been carefully chosen with only Italian red and white wines, and some serious craft beers on tap and in the bottle.
Purdy Avenue/Sunset Harbor, South Beach and Miami will be grateful if Lucali makes this a permanent home.