A Second Outpost, At Home in Miami
Photographs by Jeremy Sachs-Michaels
To say that Lucali is a pizza joint is to undermine its thoughtfulness. Instead it is better to think of it as a carefully curated restaurant that happens to serves deliciously simple award-winning pizza.
The original Lucali opened in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn in 2006 on a whim. Owner Mark Iacono heard that his favorite local candy store had closed, and the landlord was looking for a new tenant. A longtime resident of the neighborhood, he didn’t want the space to turn into another Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts so he asked for and was offered the lease. Almost two-and-a-half years later he opened, and Lucali has been attracting crowds since.
The southern outpost run by Iacono’s cousin Dominic Cavagnuolo opened in 2013. At 70 seats, it is almost double the size of the wildly popular Brooklyn space but the orchestrated rustic touches are still present. Dark wood has been swapped for whitewashed pine and soft candlelight has been replaced by warm rays of sunlight. Like the original space, there is room for another four or five tables but despite the demand, four-star spacing remains.
On most days the place is buzzing with tables filled with regulars, locals and tourists, all communing over one of Lucali’s delicious pies. Though it’s famous for pizza, Iacono had never made pizza before opening his restaurant in Brooklyn and has never been to Italy. And yet he has managed to create a pie that has ranked among the best in Brooklyn, the greater New York area, and now Miami.
The success of it’s pizza is in its simplicity. Crafted to recreate the New York thin crust pizza Iacono remembers from his youth, Lucali’s pizzas are almost paper-thin with a little sauce, and a little cheese. Toppings such as hot peppers, onions, red peppers, shallots, portobello mushrooms, and pepperoni are available for about a dollar or more. Garlic and basil are free.
Other popular items are the calzones, folded pizzas with gooey ricotta insides and all-beef meatballs in four-hour tomato sauce, a secret restaurant recipe. Unlike the Carroll Gardens location, the Miami Beach restaurant has an expanded menu that includes salads and dessert, including a Nutella-and-ricotta calzone that is satisfyingly sweet and salty, and not to be missed. The kale caesar or shaved fennel salads are refreshing, expanding the breadth of the menu without losing the taste and the authenticity of the original.
And there is no need to BYOB here. Though the lack of liquor license in Brooklyn has been known to attract wine connoisseurs – exceptional bottles once emptied are lined up in the windows – Lucali Miami has a well-curated list of wine, beer and cocktails.
Though it is not quite the Brooklyn original, Lucali has made a name and home in Miami that is all of it’s own.
Through a sliding wooden door lies Bay Club, Lucali’s version of a good neighborhood bar.
The space, with its velvet details and dark wood, hosts movie nights – playing black and white thrillers – and Thursday night karaoke sing-alongs, while also serving bar-size versions of Lucali’s menu as well as charcuterie platter. There are typically about eight cocktails to choose from, with unique ingredients that include cherry herrings and sriracha,
1930 Bay Road