Best Pizza (1999)

Downtown Pizzeria

Just having the word pizzeria in the name should be enough to get any pizza lover worth his or her pepperoni through the door. Sounds authentic. Italian. But it's not -- exactly. Downtown Pizzeria owners Chris and Gus Kapakos have more Greek ancestry than Italian, but their restaurant background and pizza-making pedigree come from authentic sources. Their father was a restaurateur who owned and operated the Horizon Diner and the Key West Seafood House locally during the mid-'70s and early '80s. (He still has restaurants in Orlando.) The brothers grew up working at dad's places and then went into business for themselves with Lazy A Farms, a produce company they ran until the building that housed it burned nine years ago. As luck would have it, one of Lazy A's clients was Dino's Pizzeria, and when owner Dino Chilini heard about the closure, he offered Chris a job delivering pizzas for extra cash. Soon enough Chris was elbow-deep in dough, working inside the kitchen at Dino's, where he began perfecting his dough-tossing technique. With Dino's blessing, Chris chose a location in Fort Lauderdale, and he and Gus opened their first pizzeria on Seventh Street. They built a reputation and a clientele with a full menu of Italian dinners, subs, and salads. And awesome pie. The thin-crust, New York-style slices are big enough to choke a hippo and dripping with just the right amount of cheese grease floating above the zesty red sauce below. The makings for the sauce, Gus' concoction, are secret, but Chris lets on that they use whole-milk mozzarella ("It's a little more fatty, but it's got the taste," explains Chris), fresh herbs instead of dried flakes (except oregano), and only the freshest produce, no canned stuff. What else would you expect from a couple former vegetable peddlers? And they've done so well, a second Downtown Pizzeria was opened in Oakland Park in January. Both locations are open until 4 a.m. and offer free delivery till 5 p.m., though you can grab a pie hot out of the oven and eat it on site at the small counter.


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