Saturday, April 25, 2015

Review: Luigi's Coal Oven Pizza, Fort Lauderdale FL

Given the pizza renaissance taking place across America, I am no longer surprised to find great pie outside of the traditional pizza belt cities like Philly, Trenton, New York, New Haven, and Boston. One area with a terrific concentration of destination pizza is the Atlantic Coast in South Florida.
Luigi's Coal Fired Pizza, Fort Lauderdale

South Florida is home to the wonderful chain Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza. Boca Raton is host to two other first-rate coal oven pizza joints - Nick's New Haven Style Apizza and Tucci's Fire N Coal Pizza. In Delray Beach, Scuola Vecchia is turning out the best Neapolitan pizza I've had anywhere.

Thus, a recent trip to Fort Lauderdale again opened up possibilities for some great pie. I didn't have much chance to get out of my hotel due to business obligations, so one night we ordered a takeout pizza from Luigi's Coal Oven Pizza, which is located with dozens of other great restaurants on Las Olas Boulevard. Luigi's does not deliver, but they partner with "Delivery Dudes" who add a modest service charge; the pie arrived at our hotel in under an hour.
Click on any image for fill size resolution

I wanted the Margherita - but with sausage. However, Luigi's won't make any alterations to that signature pie with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella. In haste to get some cured meat on my pizza, I ordered one with four meats - sausage, bacon, meatballs, and pepperoni.

Takeout pizza is never ideal, because the pie steams in the box, and that affects the texture of the crust. And this pie arrived looking beautiful, but the first third of each slice was wet and floppy. I don't blame that on the pizzaiolo - it was a result of the overloaded meat toppings and the time spent in the box.

After the first few wet bites of each slice, the coal-fired crust really began to shine. It had excellent flavor and superb texture; the cornicione was a delight.
Coal oven at Luigi's other location in Delray Beach

However, something on top was seriously amiss. I love salt - I usually add salt to a slice of pizza. But this pie was bracingly briny. By a large margin, it was the saltiest pizza I've ever had. It was at the upper end of my salt tolerance; I think some would fail to finish a slice because of the excess salt.
Underside of crust, great coal oven char

Perhaps the four meats - especially the bacon - leached a lot of salt into the pie, and perhaps the cheese and sauce had their own sodium contributions. The extreme saltiness did not ruin the pie for me, but it was a major defect.  

The meats were quite good, otherwise.  The cheese was good too, although perhaps applied a bit too thickly. The sauce had a good tang, but salt was the dominant impression to each bite.

Overall - I think this is a great pizza that suffered two major insults. First was the time spent in the box, and second was that salt overdose.  I'd gladly try it again, but in the restaurant and with some pre-bake caution about the salt. Luigi's is crafting a top shelf crust in that coal oven, and that takes you 80% of the way to destination pizza.

I recommend Luigi's - but be sure to ask them to temper the salt when making your pie.

Luigi's Coal Oven Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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