Italian food from a strip-center pizzeria is made for mobility. It’s hearty, plentiful and can withstand the rigors of a takeout container. But, ho-hum, it’s also dominated by garlic-oil-soaked rolls and circular tins of spaghetti. So when we walked into a new storefront pizzeria in Aventura, our eyebrows shot up. Holy cannoli: The Sicilian Oven has a bistro vibe, a bar, flat-screen TVs, an open kitchen — and not a whiff of overpowering garlic.
Turns out this place is a tweener — several steps above your father’s pizza place but not the fanciest trattoria in town. Pizza is the star, made in a wood-burning oven and topped with top-notch stuff: tomato slices, fresh basil and mozzarella. That said, the margarita seemed pricey and small, not quite enough for two.
The eggplant reggiano in tangy pomodoro sauce also was a step above the usual, but as with the pizza, there wasn’t enough to share. But, oh, those meatballs: big as baseballs and proudly perched atop a mound of pasta. And those rice balls — stuffed with ground beef, peas and mozzarella — billed as a “Sicilian classic.” The best part was the huge side of meaty bolognese sauce for dipping (and gobbling with a spoon). The compact menu also offers appetizers, sandwiches and salads.
Our order took about 20 minutes, so we wandered next door to the Winn-Dixie, and returned to people-watch at the bar. That’s something you can’t do at just any neighborhood pizza place.