By Linda Bladholm
Brie and walnut pizza drizzled in truffle oil, anyone? How about foie gras with duck and porcini mushrooms? Those are just two of the 50 gourmet combinations at La Boîte à Pizza (which means the Pizza Box), a French franchise that opened its first U.S. outlet in Miami Beach.
Frantz Lallement founded the company when he was 22, getting the idea from watching people rush into a
small pizzeria at lunchtime in Merignac, a small town in the south of France. He sold his limited edition Peugeot 205 GTI for startup money and opened his first place in Paris in 1986. He built the business with a partner, recently expanding to China. His 24-year-old son, Laurwente, now helps run it.
Father and son stop by the new pizza outpost often, but it’s run by Matt LeBlanc (no, not Joey from Friends), a Canadian who worked as a pastry chef in Key West for 13 years. Brazilian front-of-the-house helper Dalvane Piers and Russian deliveryman Amton Kukhtov complete the international staff.
Some pies have a tomato base, but many are spread with sour cream, then sprinkled with cheese. Every two months, new combinations are added and others retired. Bestsellers such as Margherita deluxe (sour cream and basil base with mozzarella and fresh tomato) stay. Salmon with baby scallops and persillade (garlic, parsley and olive oil) is a current favorite.
The quiche pizza is almost as light as a soufflé, with cheese, ham and onions. Indian flavor comes on a base of sour cream mixed with curry powder topped with mozzarella, chicken bits, raisins, toasted almonds, pineapple and honey. Tartiflette has brie, bacon and potato wedges. Moroccan pizza (listed as Oriental) is lamb and prune tagine topped with almonds and honey. Truffle oil in eye droppers and can be added to any
pizza on request.
Besides pizza, chicken wings (original or barbecue) and ice cream are available to start or end a meal here. And LeBlanc is putting his pastry skills to the test to create a special dessert for this out-of-the-ordinary pizza place.
La Boîte à Pizza, 1679 Alton Rd., Miami Beach; 305-531-1900; 11 a.m.-midnight daily, until 2 a.m. Thurs-Sat; chicken wings $5.49-$10.99, pizzas $9.99-$20.49, ice cream $3.49-$6.99
FYI: Delivery to locations within 45 minutes of the shop
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