Heavy pizza eating kicked off my holiday weekend last Thursday during the third installment of the Miami pizza crawl. This time around the group visited three Lincoln Road restaurants: Sosta, Piola and Spris. Overall, this crawl was the weakest of the three crawls but there were some good pies in the mix as well as some serious disappointments. Here’s the recap.
Sosta was the only one of the three that I hadn’t previously visited. We sat outside but a quick look inside revealed a sleek, modern-looking interior at the old Johnny Rockets space. The kitchen is fully visible from the dining room and wine bottles line the walls. The menu is predominantly pizza but it also include some pastas, several salads and a good selection of antipasti.
- Sosta - sundried tomato spread, mozzarella, burratta and prosciutto
- Siciliana – anchovies, capers, black olives and basil
- Carpaccio – beef carpaccio, arugula and parmesan
- Brie and speck (from the white pizzas)
Maybe I was expecting too much from Sosta’s pizza. Though I didn’t dislike it, it didn’t blow me away as I expected after reading various raving reviews prior to my visit. The crust was good; not too crispy, not too thin but it also didn’t have a notable flavor. Of the four pies we ordered, the Sosta was my favorite. The sundried tomato spread had a nice flavor to it and I liked the addition of the burrata. Others favored the Siciliana but I’m not a fan of capers or anchovies so that made this pie a non-candidate for me.
On paper, I liked the idea of the carpaccio pizza but where I would’ve liked the beef to stand out, the parmesan eclipsed all other toppings making it disappointing. In the the brie and speck, I actually liked the flavor of the speck but the pizza seemed a little dry and the brie didn’t really add much to it.
Our next stop was Piola. I’ve been there several times before and never has it been as disappointing as it was on this visit. Perhaps it was the choice of pizzas or maybe something changed in the kitchen or maybe all the other pizzas I’ve tasted of late have put it into perspective.
The pies we ordered here were:
- Piola - sun dried tomatoes, basil, tomato sauce
- Curitiba – Catupiry cheese, artichokes and hearts of palms
- Carbonara – bacon, egg and parmesan
- Posillipo – anchovies, oregano, cherry tomatoes
I first tasted the Posillipo. This was from their Neapolitan pizzas, meaning it has a thin crust but thicker edges. The crust at Piola is ultra-thin, think cardstock, so it didn’t really hold the toppings on this pie very well. The tomato sauce was thin and runny so that you couldn’t really hold up the pizza without things starting to slide off.
The Piola was my favorite here. It was nothing impressive but it was the best out of the group for me. I was one of the people in the group who vouched for the Curitiba as I really like catupiry, a Brazilian creamy cheese. Unfortunately, the artichokes and hearts of palm added nothing to the mix, making the pie quite bland.
Patata e pancetta
As we headed to the last stop of the night, several of us commented on how blah this crawl had been. Thankfully, Spris somewhat redeemed the Lincoln Road pizza crawl and emerged as the favorite for most.
The four pies we ordered were:
- Carbonara – pancetta, egg, parmesan and black pepper
- Frutti di mare – calamari, clams, shrimp and mussels
- Ortolana – grilled eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, roasted peppers and portobello mushrooms
- Patata e pancetta – pancetta, thinly sliced potatoes, rosemary and parmesan
Frutti di mare
For me, Spris’s clear win came down to the patata e pancetta pie, my favorite here and of the evening. The combination of pancetta, parmesan and potato worked really well on this pizza. And the rosemary was an extra touch of flavor that made it all more of a pleasure to eat.
The frutti di mare was a good concept but the generous amount of mostly calamari that topped the pie overpowered the crust, making me feel like I wasn’t eating pizza as I could barely detect the crust’s flavor and texture over the taste and chewiness of the seafood. Though I didn’t dislike the carbonara, I found it to be a bit salty. The ortolana was disappointing. The generous amounts of vegetables atop were divided — each quarter had a different vegetable — so I had to choose which vegetable I wanted to taste. Mixing them on the pie would’ve been a good idea.
Though Spris emerged as my favorite in Lincoln Road, I liked Racks, Pizza Volante and Joey’s much more. And I’m not good with absolutes or favorites so you won’t be getting a ‘best of’ from me. A cop out? Perhaps. There are just some things that I liked more at some of the places than others and I’d likely be happy eating at any of those places. So for now, this is it.
1025 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
1625 Alton Road, Miami Beach
731 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach