Lucali is like Star Wars or Tom Brady, or any other highly divisive topic that everyone seems to have an unsolicited opinion about. People will tell you it’s the best or overrated or not what it used to be or not as good as the original and so on and so forth until you are looking for the nearest exit sign or blunt object. But the best way to experience Lucali isn’t by having a debate about it with your dad’s friend from New Jersey - it’s by coming here and eating some of the best pizza in Miami.
That pizza is worth braving the wait at this Sunset Harbour spot - which can range from 10 minutes on a random Tuesday to well over an hour on a busy weekend. There’s a bar next door called Bay Club that’s good for drinks while you wait. They also serve smaller versions of Lucali pizzas, though we really recommend you hold out for a proper table and experience this place the right way.
If you do, your reward will be a pie that defies comparison. Unlike most pizza, which tends to neatly follow some sort of regional style, Lucali’s is on its own planet. It’s almost a perfect hybrid between a classic paper-plate slice and a crispy thin-crust pie, and it tastes like it was made with alien technology that hasn’t been given to the rest of the world’s pizzerias. The dough is soft and floppy towards the middle and starts to get crispier and crunchier the closer you get to the crust. The ratio of sauce to cheese tastes like it’s been perfectly calibrated by little green scientists from a planet where pizza is the most precious natural resource.
And if pizza was the only thing to like about this place, we’d still wait a long time on the sidewalk to silently eat an entire pie by ourselves. But Lucali is every bit as appropriate for a date or lowkey group dinner where multiple bottles of red wine are consumed. Inside it looks like an auto garage that’s been taken over by sullen pizza monks who stand wordlessly in the back corner and concentrate on rolling out dough with wine bottles. The lighting inside is mostly candles, which makes it feel like winter even when it’s 97 degrees outside.
Depending on the size of your group and your hunger levels, there are some other small plates and pastas worth sharing: a very good baked artichoke covered in cheese and red sauce, tender chicken wings, and some rotating pasta specials like ricotta ravioli in a spicy pesto. But they are all, of course, background dancers for the pizza. And like The Empire Strikes Back, or watching Brady drive 80 yards down the field with 30 seconds left on the clock to beat your favorite team by one point, it’s hard to deny its greatness.
This is our favorite pizza in Miami, and we remember our first bite more vividly than our last five birthdays. Even if you have iron-strong preconceived pizza preferences of precise thickness and sauce-to-cheese ratios and all that good stuff, one slice of this wipes it all away.
Coming here and ordering a calzone instead of a pizza feels like going to the Super Bowl and watching hockey on your phone. However, the calzones here are really good, super cheesy, and do come with some extra sauce that makes the whole thing even better. Just use it to supplement a pizza. It’s a supporting actor, not the main star.
The pasta specials here change often. The ricotta ravioli in a spicy pesto we had was very solid, but it was one we ate cautiously for fear of filling up before the pizza arrived.
You can order the artichoke as a plain side and it’ll come with half a lemon, or you can do the artichoke special and it’ll be served underneath a bunch of cheese and sauce that makes it look like a pizza if you squint hard enough. We prefer the special.
Eight oven-baked wings are arranged in a single file line with a pair of very good dipping sauces: one is slightly sweet and spicy and the other is a classic bleu cheese. Even if you don’t like wings (and there’s a lot to like about these ones), you can recycle both sauces for pizza dipping.