So many of us who now live in South Florida originally hail from up North – New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut – and when you are born and raised there, pizza is a part of your life. You grow up on it. From the time you can chew, you’ve eaten the pie. A slice and a diet coke is one of the most satisfying meals in the world.
So, we come down here and we expect to find the same, right? Why wouldn’t amazing pizza abound? The pizza makers from up North move down here and they have to work, so they do what they know best – they open a pizza place. It has to taste equally as delish as what they created there. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
Well, in a logical world it certainly does…but logic and reality don’t always go hand in hand. As a matter of fact, sometimes, they couldn’t be farther apart. Like, in the pizza that exists in Florida. I have been here for 11 years and have eaten many a pie, praying that someone would really get it right. I’ve tasted and nibbled – and the success would be limited. Living in Aventura, we have access to everywhere. We are centrally located and many towns are just a carried away. So, after driving as far as Boca for a good slice (my sister Lauren swears by Brooklyn Brothers in Boca), I was thrilled to recently stumble upon the best new place in town – King’s County Pizza.
Before I get blasted out of town, let me mention that I was a faithful Steve’s Pizza eater for years prior to finding King’s County. I still love Steve’s – it has the sweetest sauce I’ve ever tasted, and, for those of you who like sweet sauce, it will always rule. A slice of Steve’s is big enough for a meal. Ninety percent of the time, it has the right amount of crunch, the right amount of chew, enough cheese, enough sauce…and so on. Sometimes, like anyplace, they can miss.
But now, let’s move on to my new favorite – King’s County. My office is on West Dixie highway. I drive from 186th to my office every day. One day, a sign went up. My husband, who’s always on the lookout for good food, already knew. He was onto it. He tried it while I was away. He loved it. I am always skeptical, but hey, if you don’t try, you don’t know.
But I wanted to know, so when I walked back into the office from an appointment I had, I figured I’d order and see what the office had to say. But they beat me to the punch – it was already there just waiting for me. I looked at the box. It looked like pizza. But the smell…so doughy, so saucy, so utterly mouthwatering. “Don’t ask questions. Just eat it,” my husband suggested.
Who was I to argue? I reached into the box and pulled out a slice. A bit smaller than I’d hoped. But I reserved judgment. I sniffed. It smelled…spicy. I took a bite. And another. The cornmeal dusted bottom presented a nice texture. It was light but not too light. It was cheesy but not too cheesy. It had a hint of spice; a slight bite, but not too much bite. It was good. No, actually, it was great.
But one time is not enough to guarantee perfection so the next day we ordered again. It came perfectly cooked with a few bubbles on the crust and the perfect amount of crunch, cheese, sauce and heat. I ate a slice. And then another. But when I went back for my third piece, I realized that I had hit pay dirt! I had found the pizza of my dreams. It was everything I could hope for – and it is in walking distance of my office.
So I stopped in to check it out. The people seemed nice. It wasn’t jam packed, nor was it empty so I knew the food was moving (and therefore fresh) but I didn’t have to wait. Within minutes I had my pie and I was ready to eat.
Since then, which was a few months ago, I’ve tried many things on the menu. A purist, a cheese pie is always the way to go for me, but the Sicilian (square, lighter, thicker dough, which is available on Friday’s only) is so satisfying. My favorites, of course, include chicken parm, which I have eaten many times and it’s always delish. Pure white meat is the key. Each dish comes with pasta – ziti or spaghetti in King’s County red sauce. I am not a big pasta fan, but rest assured – if they send it, I will eat it – all. Wings, calzones, and Stromboli are all first class, packed with just the right amount of stuffing to fill you up but not overdo it. Love them. The eggplant, which is typically my “go to” dish, is usually great. I’ve had a few close calls, where the eggplant is a bit thick and gets kind of chewy, but more often than not, it is a vegetarian’s delight. The good thing is that when I did have those out-of-the-ordinary occurrences and I called, it was addressed and taken care of immediately.
Owners Tara Dolinski and Rob Rodriguez are always on-property cooking and caring for their customers. The two originally came down from New York to buy a house because “his friend lived here,” explains Dolinski. “Instead, we took my life savings and bought a pizza place.”
And it’s a good thing they did. King’s County Pizza is my one “fast-food” style indulgence. It is hands-down the best pizza I have eaten in South Florida. There are lunch specials, coupons, and a variety of pizzas, square pizzas, salads, heroes, and dessert (they make a killer cannoli). You can eat in – they just turned the store at the end of the strip mall into a lovely dining area – pick up, or they’ll deliver to you. Doesn’t matter how or where you get it, just make sure you eat it!
(Shari Lynn Rothstein has been writing about food, wine, lifestyles and fashion for more than 20 years, in New York and Florida. She resides in Aventura. Shari can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments, questions thoughts.