Very Like a Whale

Don't like the fried clams? Try the coal oven pizza.

I drank my decently mixed vodka gimlet and then I did something I've never, ever done before. I asked for the check. Without. Ordering. An Entrée. Without, in the interest of thoroughness and objectivity, muddling through another five or six dishes — the grouper sandwiches and dolphin with mango salsa, the seafood pasta and the cod 'n' chips. Professionalism be damned, I just didn't want to go on with this meal.

The sign for Giovanni's Coal Fire Pizza just across the plaza was flickering warmly. We got up, tripped past the fountain, and finished our dinner over there. Open just since January, Giovanni's makes a really good thin-crust pizza, a pie destined to become a contender in our local pizza wars, entering the ever-lively discussion on many internet foodie boards over crust consistency and cheese distribution.

Giovanni's does indeed cook its pies in one of three coal ovens, which means they can take these rounds of dough to extreme temperatures, submitting them to the kind of heat that persuades crusts to form delicious blackened air bubbles and to develop strips of charring on the bottom. We ordered a large pie ($13.95) with two toppings, mushroom and pepperoni at $1.95 each, and a half bottle of Chianti Ruffino for $13 from a big list of California and Italian bottles. I have nothing but admiration for a pizza joint that sells wine by the half bottle – some of us have no problem drinking alone. Our pizza, served on a metal stand wasn't, alas, crisp enough to fold in half and consume one-handed, as New Yorkers insist is the only way to eat the stuff, but even demolished with a knife and fork this reasonably priced pie was divine: a simple, tangy marinara and part-skim mozzarella topped with juicy sautéed mushrooms and very thin slices of salty pepperoni curling hotly around the edges. Ratio of crust to topping: excellent. A scattering of fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil at the end would have perfected it, but here was a pizza that certainly trumped my expectations. We thought we were stuffed too full of crap shellfish to eat much, but we inhaled nearly the whole thing and felt happy. Giovanni's is a keeper.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

The Whale Raw Bar and Fish House

7619 N. State Road 7
Pompano Beach, FL 33073

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Coconut Creek

Giovanni's Coal Fire Pizza

7625 N. State Road 7
Pompano Beach, FL 33073

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Coconut Creek

Details

The Whale Raw Bar and Fish House7619 N. State Rd. 7, Parkland. Open daily 11 a.m. till 10 p.m. Call 954-345-9190. Giovanni's Coal Fire Pizza7625 N. State Rd. 7, Parkland. Open daily 11 a.m. till 10 p.m. Call 954-345-9282. Wheelchair accessible.

We said as much to one of the owners when he came by our table, and we told the cute waiter we'd be back for the Sunday dinner, a feast of baked ziti, salad, and dessert priced at $29.95 for four people. A three-course meal for four was priced at just five dollars more than the basket of Ipswitch clams we'd eaten next door. That's what I'd call one whale-sized bargain.

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