Forno 52 dishes out authentic Neapolitan pizza in Palmetto Bay
17225 S. Dixie Hwy, Palmetto Bay Point
Hours: 11:30am-9pm Tuesday-Thursday, until 10pm Friday and 11pm Saturday
Prices: Antipasti $7-$15, salads $10-$13, pizzas $13-$18
FYI: On Wino Wednesdays, some Italian wine bottles are half price
Roberto Santos is passionate about hand-crafted Naples-style pizza made with the best ingredients imported from Italy. The Cuba native named his 6-month-old place after the oven that a proper pizza Napolentana is cooked in and the year he was born. He had the sleek industrial place built from the ground up in steel, marble and glass with orange accents. The central bar holds glass vases filled with ripe tomatoes and a large bowl of marinated olives with herbs, lemon peel and paper-thin shaved fennel.
Santos grew up in Southwest Miami and went to Florida State University, where he studied communications. He spent two years in Florence as part of his university program, which was the catalyst that led him to photography. After graduation he became a commercial food photographer. He went to Johnson and Wales in Miami on the side and did a stint under Mark Militello, where he was set up at the pizza station. Two years ago he started catering events but sold his equipment to open the pizzeria. He mentored himself after pizza gurus Chris Bianco and Anthony Mangieri and hired his sister Lourdes Hernandez to manage.
The pizza dough is mixed by hand with “00” Antino Caputo brand high gluten flour, a little water, yeast and Sicilian sea salt. It is never tossed, just shaped and slapped onto the bed of the Tuscan clay tile dome oven where it quickly blisters to form a thin crisp crust with a hint of smoke. The sauce, made with San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes, glosses most of the pizzas from the carciofo with artichokes, fresh mozzarella, pecorino and oregano to the salame with sweet and spicy Italian salami and three cheeses. There’s also the bianca with fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and arugula and the filetti di pomodoro with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, pecorino and basil.
Pizza specials include marinara with smoked salmon and wild mushroom with Parmesan and olive oil. Accompany a pie with house salad and a bottle of Stella Artois beer. It’s the real deal here.
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