First came the burgers. Then the tacos. And now pizza.
On an unremarkable stretch of Himmarshee Street, past the busy late-night bars and Sunday-brunch congestion, you'll find Fort Lauderdale's newest artisan pizzeria. Proclaiming itself the lone wolf of elevated eating and drinking in the city's Himmarshee Village — with its New York-inspired red-brick walls, custom imported wood-burning oven, and adjoining
Like Tacocraft tacos and
"I make sexy-ass food," Pizzacraft executive chef Bret Hauser will tell you, your first clue that the former Hell's Kitchen competitor wants you to know that his take on Italian aims to be something altogether different. "At the end of the day, food is like politics: You can't please everyone. But I think we've got something special going on here."
To understand Hauser's definition of "sexy" — and boastful confidence — is to understand the 33-year-old himself. The Miami native grew up in a food-loving Italian household, with a father and grandmother that passed their passion for homemade cuisine on to him. He's even tattooed from head to toe in food, everything from a chef's knife and vibrant branzino across his forearm to spaghetti and meatballs on a fork and an artichoke fashioned into a grenade at his ankle.
Then there's his résumé. He jump-started his career with Todd English at Da Compo Osteria in Fort Lauderdale and busied himself in the South Florida scene before making the move to
So when the waiter delivers this pizza, the one this restaurant was built for and around, is it really as sexy as Hauser states? Well, yes and no. Simple is sexy, and these pies are anything but.
After months of product sourcing and countless hours of taste-testing,
With that as the base, Hauser helped to draft a short list of signature pies, each cooked at 800 degrees. Those pizzas — four red and four white — arrive hot and pliable from a Marra Forni wood-burning oven manned by a pair of brothers whose only job is to ensure they cook up just right. That makes for a consistent slice, one that's not too bubbly, not too soft, and with just the right amount of blistered char at the bottom.
If you order the classic tomato and basil, you'll find it won't droop under the weight of all that extensive product sourcing, sauce, and house-made cheese. Even the white pie — loaded with fancy ingredients like cave-aged Gruyère, roasted farm-fresh eggs, and artisan meats from Miami Smokers — has a significant bite to it.
If you prefer your dinner to be served the way you'd get it at Nonna's house, you can start with a pair of oversized meatballs served in a puddle of Hauser's stellar San Marzano marinara. They're topped with a tuft of fluffy homemade ricotta, the same that can be ordered alone as an appetizer, drizzled in honey and sea salt. Or go for the golf-ball-sized
The most creative appetizer, however, is also one of Hauser's favorites: polenta fries. For many, polenta — Italian cornmeal boiled into a thick, runny porridge — is often described as tasteless and soupy, with a texture similar to wet sand. But Hauser found a way to make the polenta haters concede.
At Pizzacraft, a cheese-infused polenta is fried into four-inch-long cubes and stacked in a crisscrossing pattern, arriving with a crispy, crunchy shell that gives way to a creamy polenta center. They're served alongside a small cup of garlic aioli for dipping. There's also a white ceramic crock of Hauser's simple red sauce, without which no Italian dish is complete.
The carb-loading continues with house-made pasta, hand-formed daily by Hauser himself. You'll find several options, from bucatini and rigatoni to thick-cut pappardelle. Order the orecchiette and you'll get classic Italian comfort fare, each
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"There's a lot of love in this food, and I think it shows," says Hauser. "It's good to be home in the city I love, making incredible food for an incredible group of people."
Pizzacraft Artisan Pizzeria
330 Himmarshee St., Fort Lauderdale. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Call 954-616-8028, or visit pizzacraftpizzeria.com.
Polenta fries $8
Orecchiette pasta $20
Nonna's Sunday Gravy $28
- Tomato and basil pizza $ 18