I know what you are thinking…. does Fort Lauderdale really need another pizza place? Yes. Yes it does. Because when it comes to pizza, there can never be enough.
Recently I was invited to a VIP media tasting of the soft opening for the new dough on the peel. Who better to bring than my very own Mama Maria! This is a woman who stepped right off the boat from Italy into my father’s pizzeria. I figured if someone was going to give an honest opinion, it was going to be her.
Upon entering, the first thing you will notice is what MidiCi refers to as “The Heart ” Why? Because without it, nothing would exist! MidiCi says it was “designed with a heart in mind because it feeds the space and holds all the vital functions.” Right they are, as this is where you will find the two large ovens, all the fresh ingredients needed to cook and the bar pulsing like a life line through out the whole restaurant.
This center-stage kitchen is where all the magic happens. You step up, order the pizza the way you want it and then sit back and watch it be created by your very own team of chefs. From the dough being stretched to the moment your masterpiece is placed onto the peel and into the wood-fired ovens, you can watch all the excitement happen right before your eyes. Everything that touches their signature pizza is made with “high quality ingredients imported from Italy to create the ideal Neapolitan Pizza.” The other cool thing to note is that all the food that you are eating is produced right there in “The Heart” where they are making it in front of you. No hidden kitchen in the back. What you see, is what you get.
Located in Flagler Village in downtown Fort Lauderdale is where MidiCi has chosen to plant it’s roots …. I mean this literally as there is a real live olive tree growing in the middle of the restaurant!!! I’ve been told the tree is a “50 year-old Olea Euopaea who is here to take in new times and new stories…” Oh the secrets I plan on sharing under those branches while nibbling on pizza.
As visually appealing as all that is, I think we know, it’s always all about the food.
So let’s start with the appetizers…or as the Italian’s call it… Antipasto! The three we chose (and for those of you doing the math, that was one more than what the two of us needed) were the Housemade meatballs with fresh mozzarella, and the house meat and cheese boards.
Out of the trio I would say the meat was my hands down favorite. This is largely due to the fact that I don’t eat cheese and it is really hard for me to judge meatballs when I’ve had the pleasure of eating my mothers all my life and she was sitting right next to me. Also, there was just such an amazing variety of meat to choose from. There was black truffle salami, rosemary ham, prosciutto and a spicy salami that still haunts my taste buds. And all of it was sliced to perfection. You know when it is just thin enough to get the flavor and texture of the meat so that it melts in your mouth instead of chewing forever on it. Luckily they have a flywheel manual slicer to do it. Her name is The Vittoria. Like most of the toys in their kitchen, she gets things done manually.
Mama Maria, by the way devoured almost every piece of cheese offered to her, including a rather large fresh artisan burrata that was placed in front of her.
So what’s a burrata? It is a cheese made of mozzarella and cream. It has a creamy center that when tasted leaves you in a dreamy state saying “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” While she sat blissfully full of dairy, I ate the red beets in their lemon vinaigrette dressing. It should be noted that I absolutely love beets on a menu and these were perfectly seasoned to allow their wonderfully earthy taste to still shine through.
Being with Mama Maria I knew in order to avoid a lecture I would have to sneak some veggies in. What better way to do it with a simple salad of fresh greens, a few veggies and some balsamic reduction. I do love a good looking salad.
But enough chit chat…bring on the pizza!
Every pizza is made right in front of you with an ample amount of fresh ingredients for you to choose from. Then it is placed into one of the hand built wood-burning ovens, or the golden space ships as I like to call them Per their press release “The both burn at the dome at about 1000° Fahrenheit, the temperature needed to bake Neapolitan Pizza to perfection in just 90 seconds.” Do you hear that? Someone in another country, used their own hands to build you this magical oven that can cook you the perfect pizza in a little more than a minute. And that unbelievable machine is HERE where you live!
The simplicity of a Margherita pizza should not lead you to underestimate its complexity. Light and chewy, warm and crunchy. Add a couple of slices of calabrese (a spicy Italian salami) and you take it to a whole other level. My mouth is watering again just thinking about it.
I’d like to say that I stopped at one piece, or one pizza, but sadly, I did not.
I also tried the Genoa’s pizza with it’s housemade pesto base and sautéed baby spinach with garlic, roasted bell peppers, topped with fresh sweet basil, baby arugula and fresh grape tomatoes. I glanced at the pizza Quattro (4) formaggi that my mom had in front of her and wondered just how much cheese can this women ingest?
I, personally loved the pizzas as they were, but for those who need to add a little more something something, there is an easily accessible table of condiment toppings for you to sprinkle upon your slice.
With the savory behind us it was now time for the sweet. This, my friend is where you go big, or go home. So we went big with the signature Nutella Calzone with fresh berries. Think soft, chewy dough baked with three kinds of berries and Nutella hiding inside.
There are no words. It was warm, gooey, chocolatey madness.
One of my favorite things to learn about MidiCi was something that was said to me in passing. “There is nothing in the freezers except the gelato.” Translation…they do not use any frozen products other than for their dessert. These artisan delights are handcrafted in small batches and have flavor choices that can include gluten-free, dairy-free (sorbetto), sugar-free or even vegan.
Something I did not partake in was the Italian Soda. Apparently they offer a self serve station stocked with several flavored syrups that you mix with sparkling water. Sadly, I was not informed of it and therefore missed out. As I was leaving I happened to spot it and will for sure be back to try such a cool new twist on a dinner beverage.
There is also beer and of course Vino by the glass or bottle.
And for those of you who prefer to start or end with a warm caffeine concoction there is a full Gourmet Italian Coffee Bar with their prized espresso machine “The Athena” taking center stage. Another hammered by hand, non electrical machine that needs the pull of an actual person to make a perfect cup. Only a few exist in the US and we are lucky to have one here in our neighborhood.
MidiCi’s press release says it is creating a new restaurant category “Fast-fine concept = Dining with fast serving period, more refined service methods, mid-range pricing, a high benchmark of food quality and a stylish inviting atmosphere.”
I will say that everything was fresh, fast and fantastic. Lots of flavors served with lots of smiles. The staff was happy, upbeat and eager to please. They clearly are proud of their new restaurant and take pride in their work. It was also fun reading all of the servers shirts as each had a different message.
MidiCi’s motto is “People are the best thing that can happen to anyone.” They truly believe in the power of human connection and want you to come share a pizza and perhaps make a new friend.
Even in the bathroom, they want to remind you how special you are.
Now how cool is that? Go to MidiCi’s for the pizza to not only fill your tummy, but your soul as well.