It's 2 a.m., and you're out at the bar, having a good time. Maybe you're only a few drinks in; maybe you're singing Christmas carols on top of the bar. Either way, as you prepare to call it a night, you feel something primal growling deep inside your gut. Then, it hits you: an insatiable urge for the comforting, booze-soaking embrace of lipids. You must have pizza, my friend. You must have pizza forthwith.
Lucky for you, pizza is one food stuff that, even late at night, you can nab in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Say you're out at Riverfront or Himmarshee; well, there's no fewer than three options of cheesy goodness out there to choose from. Or maybe you're at the beach, making like a Girls Gone Wild subject at the Elbo Room. Well, I know a joint just down the road that could get your shirt back on in a jiffy. Now don't get me wrong: At this point, you're not exactly a discerning customer. But good eats is good eats. And among the options are two late-night pizza joints that unequivocably serve the finest greasy slice around: Squiggy's NY Pizza on Second Avenue and Primanti Brothers at Sunrise and A1A. Both are great options, but if distance is not a factor (read: you have a designated pizza driver), then read on to find out which slice you should choose.
Primanti Brothers: This Pittsburgh-based chain of sandwich and pizza joints is treated like a temple of all things greasy and delicious in Steeltown. The place is best-known for its "Almost Famous sandwiches," monstrous slices of Italian bread stuffed with meat, cheese, cole slaw, and salty/delicious hand-cut French fries. If this column were solely about great food to eat whilst drunk, these sandwiches would win out almost hands down. No amount of Red Bull and vodka could withstand the onslaught of a fried egg oozing over a pile of corn beef and French fries that you can pick up and eat like a sandwich. Just not happening. If we're strictly talking about the pizza, here's what a Primanti's slice is like: The dough is bubbly and bread-like but not too thick. It's also fairly sweet, and, when reheated, crisps up pretty nicely. The cheese is great, stringy and delicious, but the sauce may be the weakest part. It's lightly applied, which is fine, but it can tend to veer toward the acidic side. Still, the slice is filling because of the doughiness, and the sweet crust balances out the tart sauce, making it a perfect foil to five or six rum and Cokes. Also, a whole pie is a good option to split among friends (you can even bribe a DD with a couple of pieces), and the service is pretty fast. And as an added bonus, you can take your pizza across the street to Fort Lauderdale Beach and sit in the cooling sand. Now that's Florida. Of course, you could also do what I do and order a slice AND a sandwich. Then hate yourself in the morning, of course.
Squiggy's: Consistency can be hit or miss at this Himmarshee staple. The glass windows showcase the cheesy haven inside, a long hallway with an elbow-height bar that tracks along the far wall, perfect for standing over and eating a slice. If you get a good piece, expect silken cheese and a smooth, sweetish sauce that's layered in just the right quantity. Also expect to burn the living hell out of the roof of your mouth -- could a perfect New York slice promise no less? Seriously, after scarfing Squiggy's pizza in mere seconds, with its garlic-powder aroma and ultra-crisp-but-thin crust, your mouth will look like the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan. Your tongue will be running over the newly fashioned craters and screaming "Medic! Man down!" And then you'll order another one, because the world is cruel and you are hungry. Other nights, you'll barely manage to choke down a piece that's been sitting on the sill waiting for a buyer since Frank Stranahan was living a block away. But most of the time, the slice is good to great, whether you're drunk or not.
Winner: As much as I can't stand hanging out at Himmarshee, Squiggy's is the best late-night slice in Lauderdale. The combination of great sauce and cheese and the perfect ratios thereof make it a class New York-style slice. Reheated, its got a great crunch too. Just make sure you're not the first one in at night and that you eat it slowly if possible to save yourself some serious mouth trauma in the a.m.