In South Beach, you don’t have to go far to find quality pizza. At Centro Storico, a collection of four distinct restaurants (Antico Pizza, Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano, Caffe Gio and Bar Amalfi), you can find everything from pizza to chicken and dessert in a laidback piazza straight out of the streets of Napoli.
Giovanni “Gio” Di Palma opened the Centro Storico collection of restaurants in Atlanta in 2009 and consistently has lines out the door. Since DiPalma brought his classic Neapolitan pizza to Miami Beach’s Art Deco District in late 2016, it has attracted the likes of celebrities such as Ludacris and Fat Joe. Antico Pizza’s pizzettes have also become extremely popular among late-night bar-hoppers.
At Antico Pizza, Di Palma prepared a Margherita version of the “Pizza Metro,” a meter-long pizza — the longest in South Beach. The pizza only took 75 seconds to bake. The flour for his pizza dough is imported from Salerno, Italy — and it shows in this exquisite dish.
The crust was doughy and felt like a cloud, yet it was just firm enough to hold all the sauce, cheese and basil that went along with it. It was difficult to fit all the three other delicious pizzas offered to me in my stomach. My favorite was the San Gennaro, with sausage, dolce piccante pepper, bufala mozzarella and cipolline onions. The peppers gave off a sweetness that melded beautifully with the savory bufala and sausage.
While Antico’s specialty is pizza, Gio’s Chicken Amalfitano offers everything poultry, as well as pasta and sandwiches. The Sorrento Lemon chicken, with its lemon, garlic, wild oregano and olio di oliva seasoning, . As Gio insisted, I ate the chicken with its accompanying sauce, which made it all the more flavorful.
I cleansed my palate a few steps next door at Caffe Gio, housed in the second oldest building in South Beach. We sipped on espresso made from the original machine from Caffe Dante in New York City, as well as cannoli with shells imported from Sicily. The shells were perfectly crunchy, a necessity for any good cannoli.
Up a few flights of stairs with mural-covered walls is Bar Amalfi, a rooftop lounge that’s a far cry from the thumping bass clubs commonly associated with South Beach. After having a shot of Limoncello, I enjoyed the intimate outside bar that offered a relaxing atmosphere and a beautiful view of Collins Avenue.
DiPalma started Antico with “a simple premise — great pizza, served quickly and no fuss, in a buzzy, fun environment.” With three very different restaurants that has delicious eats in an unpretentious environment, he’s done just that.
Centro Storico is open Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. and Sunday from noon “until the dough runs out.”
Centro Storico, 1058 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach. (786) 216-7808.
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Olivia Feldman is a contributor for The South Florida Sage. Her favorite foods are anything that involves pasta and her mom’s cooking. When she’s not eating and drinking her way through South Florida, you can find her going to concerts, planning her next travel destination, and hosting her biweekly music show, “Back in Our Minds,” on Jolt Radio. You also can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @oliviafelds All images appearing in this post photographed by Olivia.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary tasting at Centro Storico.