Oven Lovin'

Sicilian Oven bakes pizza with wood, not coal, and it shows.

DiSalvo's side of the bargain holds up as well as the food. The restaurant opens to a modern-looking wine bar bordered by a smart, black granite bar top and rows of high tables lit by dark blue wall sconces. The room flows toward the gorgeous, open-faced kitchen, itself framed by rough gray brick that showcases the dual, copper-hooded hearths. It's casual and hip all at once, and at capacity the place whirrs to life. Well-to-do types zip in from Lighthouse Point in their Bentleys, tucking in alongside working-class families who truck up from Pompano Beach. In the midst of it all is the wait staff, draped in black and operating in quiet efficiency like some food-service version of Bunraku puppeteers. They sweep in to scoop plates and refill drinks, to take orders and then scurry off without a trace, only to materialize with dishes of fire cracker calamari ($9) lavished in vibrant, garlicky marinara sauce and skillets full of mussels "Mario" ($10), white wine steamed crustaceans redolent of wood smoke. The latter are positively covered with the most fantastic Italian bread crumbs you could ever imagine; brusque crumbles the size of small ball bearings that also appear on wood-oven-roasted chicken wings ($10/$15) and smoky shrimp Palermo ($12).

Those heavenly crumbs will likewise coat the crunchy exterior of supple eggplant slices in the "stack of Sicily" ($10), a leaning tower interspersed with inch-thick slices of tomato and fresh mozzarella, then painted with sticky-sweet balsamic reduction and a smattering of basil. And they'll line the inside of a halved, stuffed artichoke ($10), one of the many daily specials — others include eggplant-stuffed pork tenderloin and penne con salsiccia con funghi served with a sage and truffle cream sauce. All are great to enjoy with a bottle of Banfi Pino Grigio, a fruity, tannin-laced wine that, at $34, costs barely twice the price of retail. Other Italian bottles like a Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva, priced at $46, follow the reasonable trend.

Still hungry? There's plenty here for round two, including gorgeous salads filled with roasted peppers, walnuts, shaved celery, onions, tomato, and three kinds of olives ($9). Also: escarole and bean soup ($7), truffled Tuscan fries ($6), pasta with meatballs ($12), and those amazing Sicilian rice balls, greaseless orbs of fried risotto stuffed with beef and peas ($9). Chowing down on all these dishes, you might be tempted to forget about the pizza. But after a succession of stellar courses, I still found room for a slice of Popeye bianco ($15) laced with runny ricotta, wilted spinach, and cremini mushrooms.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Sicilian Oven

2486 N. Federal Highway
Lighthouse Point, FL 33064

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Pompano Beach

Sicilian Oven

10140 W. Sample Road
Coral Springs, FL 33065

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Coral Springs

Details

Sicilian Oven, 2486 N. Federal Highway, Lighthouse Point. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., dinner Sunday from 4 to 10 p.m. Call 954-785-4155, or click here.

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Garavuso knows what he's slinging has promise — he and DiSalvo are currently scouting out locations in Boca to open a second store, and they're hoping to have five in the next few years. Tracking the success of Florida pizza chains like Anthony's Coal Fired, it's easy to see there's room for aggressive expansion. But I hope Garavuso decides to move slowly. I'd like to see him tossing wood into those stone hearths for a while to come.

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