Pizza may be one of America’s favorite foods. It’s also become more American than Italian, with slices in cities from east to west offering a different take on how to best combine a few basic ingredients: cheese, sauce, and dough.
There’s New York-style, Chicago-style, coal- or wood-fired, Sicilian, and Neapolitan. Some bake up with a thick, doughy crust, while others are prized for being thin and crisp.
In South Florida, where people flock from all areas of the country, we each have our favorites. But there’s still good pizza and bad pizza, no matter how you slice it. To help navigate Broward County’s selections, New Times
teamed up with WorstPizza.com
founder and South Florida pizza expert Craig Agranoff to find the area’s best slices.
12. Times Square Pizza
2304 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-566-7772, or visit timessquarepizza.net.
It's easy to pass Times Square Pizza as you speed down Oakland Park Blvd in Fort Lauderdale, but if you slow down and pull into the plaza, you might find yourself enjoying one of the area's best slices. The place has been around for over 20 years and its adored by Coral Ridge locals. The decor is a mix of photos of New York City, tossed in with a bit of Miami fanfare, and just a handful of tables. The pizza, however, is all New York. Although the kitchen is about the size of a small guest bathroom, the guys tasked with making the food put out a quality pizza, and prove you don’t need a lot of space to do it. The sauce is smooth — no clumps — and a mix of sweet and spicy. The ratio of sauce to cheese is always perfect, and the crust is strong enough to hold up to all the ingredients without flopping into a limp mess. For Agranoff, it reminds him of the slices he got growing up on Long Island. Head to Times Square Pizza for lunch: it sells two slices with a can of soda for $6.
11. Louie Bossi's Ristorante
1032 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-356-6699, or visit louiebossi.com.
The heart of the Louie Bossi Ristorante menu is the pizza, a selection of white and red-sauce pies that are baked for 90 seconds in the restaurant's 900-degree wood-burning oven. That oven greets you at the front entrance, visible from every corner of the restaurant. In it, a wet sourdough bakes into thin and chewy crust, blistered black in spots, and delivering a strong smoky essence that can be overpowering or just right, depending on your taste. There are more than a dozen to choose from, but the Margherita is the most approachable, layered with a vibrant San Marzano sauce, basil, sea salt, and imported fior de latte, a soft and buttery buffalo mozzarella.
10. El Tamarindo
712 Atlantic Shores Blvd., Hallandale; 954-456-4447.
El Tamarindo — which celebrated the opening of its fourth location in Lighthouse Point three years ago — is on the growing list of family-owned empires in South Florida. Originally from Fort Lauderdale and Hallandale Beach, chef-owner Néstor "Alex" Amaya is the man behind the magic here. From El Salvador, Amaya, who came to South Florida at age 12, began working in the restaurant industry, starting his career in the kitchen at his uncle's restaurant, Bella Napoli, as a prep chef. In 2003, at just 23, he opened El Tamarindo Cafe in Fort Lauderdale, a contemporary restaurant serving his own brand of Latin American cuisine. Today, his newest location in Deerfield Beach (and now Lighthouse Point) is a coal-fired pizza joint known for its unique, doughy crust smothered in a thick layer of well-baked cheese and sweet tomato sauce.
9. Mauro's Pizza
1904 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; 954-929-4001.
For a plain slice, nothing beats Mauro's in downtown Hollywood. Your typical late-night slice spot, and one of the few places on this list that will serve a single cheese slice, it's where you go after a round of bar-hopping. This isn't a sit-down type of establishment, but no one's food hangs around long enough to matter. The deck oven pumps out oversized slices with a thin, crispy crust and a perfect ration of cheese to sauce that's never too greasy, while also delivering a ton of flavor. That also means slices that are always fresh, and rarely re-heated. It's a no-frills kind of joint: no forks, knives, gourmet toppings, or Parmesan cheese. No chairs. Instead, you eat with your hands from a paper plate with a few dozen napkins while standing — and, no, the pizza doesn't need that extra cheese. It's also a great place to stop by for lunch during the day, when the line isn't out the door.
8. La Fontana Pizzeria
2890 N. University Drive, Coral Springs; 954-575-5502, or visit lafontanapizzeria.com.
When you think of where to find the most authentic Italian wood oven pizza, Coral Springs probably doesn’t come to mind. But, there — tucked away in The Walk shopping plaza — is a hidden secret. It's called La Fontana, where brothers Tony and Spartak Tare are making some amazing pies. They hail from Ferrara, Italy and their pizza tastes like it Take a bite, close your eyes, and you can imagine yourself overlooking Ferrara's broad streets and palaces. The pizza at La Fontana is a perfect example of wood-fired pies should be done. The crust is nice and thin, yet also crispy, not overloaded with cheese or greens. The brothers insist on using quality tomatoes in their homemade sauce. This is more of a trattoria than just a regular pizzeria, and you can take advantage of an outdoor courtyard to eat under the stars during nice evenings.
7. Villa Rose Pizza
1114 N. State Rd 7, Hollywood; 954-983-7660, or visit villarosepizza.com.
Hollywood's Villa Rose is a family-run place that's been around since 1975, a testament to its fine fare. A small mom-and-pop place, it smells like pizza the moment you walk in the door, even if there's no one cooking at the old-school deck oven. The pies here are considered Chicago-style thin crust, and despite a few signature variations including the Villa Rose special (sausage, mushroom, onion, and green pepper) the plain cheese pie is one of the best around. If you like thin crust, that is. The pie arrives cut in squares, with a smooth layer of hearty, herb-flecked tomato sauce spread beneath a thin veil of bubbly melted cheese. The crust may be thin, but it's also pliant and chewy and cooked just long enough to yield a considerable amount of flavor without any burnt, charred edges.