Want authentic Neapolitan pizza? This chef swears the secret is in the yeast.

Giovanni Gagliardi, aka, La LeGGenda. Handout

It takes some serious meatballs to call yourself a pizza legend. When you do, you’re not messing around. That is the case with Giovanni Gagliardi, whose La LeGGenda Pizzeria, promises to live up it is name when it opens soon at 224 Española Way.

A third generation pizzaiolo hailing from Naples, Italy, Gagliardi was raised in pizzerias, absorbing secrets of the trade from his grandfather and father, getting so good that even the pickiest pizza peeps took notice, giving the young pizza prodigy the nickname La LeGGenda by the age of 13. Not too shabby.  

But wait, there’s more. His pizza making game is so renowned, Gagliardi was the Pizza World Championship Winner at the Pizza World Championship 2012 in Salsomaggiore Terme, Italy, an event held annually to determine the world’s best pizza makers.

That legend had a stint at Ironside Pizza and will now run the show at his Española Way spot.

That spot will have a handcrafted terracotta wood-burning chimney that was built to look like Vesuvius and burns at 840 degrees. But for pizza, not Pompeii 2.0. 

Determined to introduce Miamians to the true flavors of Neapolitan cuisine, Gagliardi and his team have created a menu that takes your taste buds on a trip through Southern Italy with, among other things, traditional Neapolitan pizzas and gourmet versions such as the Pistachi–mortadella, buffalo mozzarella, pistachio cream and pistachio crumble.

Besides pizza, there will also be Naples classics such as the street food delicacy known as Il Gran Cuoppo Napoletano – a paper cone filled with a smorgasbord of small fried treats including mixed vegetables, rice balls, potato croquettes, doughballs, maccheroni frittata and mixed seafood. Also try the Frittata di Maccheroni – a pan fried spaghetti pie, layered with mozzarella cheese and basil. Check out the Fried Pizza – similar to an empanada, toppings are layered on the pizza dough, then folded in half, sealed and fried. Varieties include the Sorrento with sautéed escarole, anchovies, Gaeta olives, toasted pinenuts, capers, garlic and raisins; and the Positano with salami, ricotta and smoked buffalo provola.   

And while some complain that Miami pizza and bagels suck because of the water, the dough here promises to stand out thanks to the yeast–three-year-old Neapolitan yeast fed daily and coddled more than your family pet.  Gagliardi also prides himself in developing alternative dough options for the allergic or health conscious. He thereby creates six different dough options using different flours he brought in from Naples. He appreciates peoples’ aversions to gluten, among other things, and assures that it won’t affect the taste of his talents.

Aside from the regular described above, the alternative options, which all have a low glycemic index. Guests are welcome select the alternative dough of their choice, however, as the official pizzaiolo, Gagliardi prefers to recommend a dough that best suits the pizza ordered.

Opening Spring 2017: La LeGGenda Pizzeria, 244 Española Way on South Beach. The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner daily, from noon-11 p.m. 305-763 – 8566 or www.leggendapizzeria.com; Facebook:  LaLeGGendaPizza Twitter: @LaLeGGenda

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