Thought Id get the comments going after round 3 of the multi-series of Pizza Crawls that have taken place in order to find what I will just call, "the most preferred" pizza in Miami. Though I didnt participate in round 2, Id have to say that last night's round 3 had to be the weakest of the bunch even though it was the most convenient since all the pizza joints we tried we all within walking distance of one another. Here are my thoughts on last night's contestants:
Sosta - Very sharp looking pizza joint, complete with high ceilings, metallic colors, wine bottles lining the walls, and a manager(?) donning a suit with an open collar, Miami style. I found that a tad funny. This is pizza we're talking about. There was also an ample amount of staff inside and outside to take care of all the diners. The one thing that kinda turned me off from the get go was the selections of pizzas on the menu. Many were the EXACT same pizzas as Spris, right down to the names. Now, I can understand that there are staple pies that every place is gonna have but this menu just seemed like the Nexxt Cafe/Cheesecake Factory kind of similarity. We ordered 4 different pies, including the namesake "Sosta". The only ones that were any sort of memorable were the Sosta and another one with anchovies and capers and those were maybe above average pies, nothing to write home to mom and dad about. There was also a carpaccio pizza that was decent. The other one was obviously forgettable because I dont recall what it was. Overall, this one got a "C+" grade from me for the pizza and an "A" for the gorgeous blonde hostess who sat our table.
Piola - I liked the vibe of this place. High ceilings, lots of booths and tables, and a little bar by the entrance too. No glitz or glamour, just a hangout spot. Unfortunately, I didnt like the pizza at all. I thought all of the 4 pies we tried were just bland. The carbonara pizza, my favorite kind of pizza, was loaded with cheese and little toppings. Tasted more like a sausage pizza, actually. The one white pizza we got with catupiry cheese, hearts of palm, and artichokes tasted like nothing. Literally zero taste except maybe a little creaminess from the cheese. One of the pies we had was a "Neapolitan style" that was supposed to be a thicker crust and had anchovies and some other veg on it. It did have a thicker crust, except I couldnt tell how much thicker since I forgot to bring my micrometer. It was more like, "we made a smaller pizza interior and just pushed more dough to the outside for crust rather than stretching it like we do on every other pizza." The other pizza we had I dont quite recall though I believe sundried tomatoes were involved. That or it was one with cherry tomatoes that was really, really watery. Overall, I give this place a "B+" for vibe and a "D-" for pizza.
Spris - Ok, so Im a huge fan of Spris and obviously my opinions were going to be skewed from the get go. Not for nothing, but I really wanted to find a place better than Spris because sometimes that place is just too damn crowded. Well, I didnt. Spris was the unanimous winner of the night. It was like watching an old Tyson fight where his opponent gets knocked out 23 seconds into the first round and fans sit there in awe, wondering why they just paid $29.99 for 23 seconds of Pay Per View. We shouldve just done 3 visits to Spris and tried 12 of their many pizzas. Having seriously hyped up Spris' Carbonara pizza in round 1 and earlier in the night, I was eager to get its awesomeness in my system while also slightly afraid that the other diners wouldnt share my admiration for this pie. For the most part, I think it stood up to the hype, although I gotta say that this is a pie that should be split between 2-3 people MAX in order to really enjoy the sunny side up egg in the middle and all its yolky goodness. The egg, thin sliced pancetta, and shaved parmesan just rock together. I think the group's favorite, however, was the "Patata e Panchetta" pizza that came with thin slices of potato, pancetta, mozzarella, rosemary and shaved parmesan. That one really impressed me as Id never had it and I could see myself possibly getting one instead of the carbonara next time Im there. The 3rd pizza was the Ortolana which came with tons of different veggies - portobellos, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes I think. This one just reminded me of why Spris kicks ass - they LOAD the toppings. The other places we ate at were tough to really sample because the toppings were scattered in various pockets of the pizza. Spris had awesome "topping management" with zero sample slices going without some "meat" on them. The only pizza that was a bust here, and it was a total crapshoot to begin with, was the Frutti di Mare pizza. Chewy calamari and other shellfish just doesnt mix well with an oven and a pizza for me. Just way too chewy. Overall, Spris still gets an "A" in my book for their pizza and another "A" for people watching on a busy section of Lincoln Road.
As we "crawled" from joint to joint, I kept going back to Round 1... Did I really like Pizzavolante that much better than Joeys? I was having 2nd thoughts. I may have to return to both again. I remember the pie at PV with the guanciale being the winner of the night for me, but I did like Joey's crust and thought their pies were somewhat creative even if they didnt do it for me flavor wise. Now with Spris in the mix, Im not sure which I like best. I can say this though, that Carbonara and Patata e Panchetta pizza at Spris are tough to beat for me. I dont think anything I had elsewhere measured up really. Nice thin, crispy crust and plenty o' toppings at a good price. I guess I just made up my mind. Spris is the winner for me so far. Mr. 2top says Casale is incredible though so Im looking forward to its opening and the next crawl.
*I missed Part 2 of the pizza crawl which ventured north to Anthony's Coal Fired, Racks, and Pizza Fusion. Though the gang at the crawl said Racks was pretty awesome, I cant really say I care to even include it. I dont consider that area part of Miami (its Aventura) and I'll never travel that far for a pizza unless its covered in $100 bills and served by nude Playmates.