A foray into the pizza business had never occurred to Jorgie Ramos. The self-taught chef and restaurateur has been delighting foodies with his gastropub, Barley: An American Brasserie, but the concept of a pizza joint didn’t quite gel with him. Truth be told, he’d never cooked a pizza in his life.
But right now you can find him and his father, Jorge Ramos Sr., doing precisely that every evening from 5 to 10 p.m. at Faith & Pizza, a temporary “pop-up” restaurant just two doors down from Barley’s new location in Downtown Dadeland. (Barley is still under construction and has yet to reopen.) The venture — an Italian gastropub, raw bar and pizza kitchen — may only be around until October, but during that time every profit it earns will be donated to charity.
“While we were in the process of moving Barley, the Realtor, Rafael Romero, could see I was itching to start cooking again and asked me if I was interested in this spot,” Ramos said. “Having never run this kind of restaurant, I was kind of apprehensive. So he and the landlords suggested we do it as a pop-up, raise money for charity, see how it goes and, if it works, we’ll remodel and open it as a full-time restaurant.”
Thus, Faith & Pizza was born. Under a temporary model, Downtown Dadeland owners DHPI LLC are covering the first six months of rent and all three interested parties each chose a nonprofit charity close to their hearts to support.
The Ramoses chose the Live Like Bella Foundation, with proceeds supporting the fight against childhood cancer through research, treatment and memorial support. Romero, who works on behalf of Continental Real Estate Companies, chose the charity for whom he serves as a board member — Autism Speaks. Vin Bouniconti of DHPI LLC chose the Bouniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, which works alongside the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Together, they hope to raise $100,000.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Jorge Sr. “It’s a win for the charities because we’re raising $100,000 for them. It’s a win for the landlords because they’re getting a lot of recognition in helping the community. For us, we get to be able to give back to the community and try out this new business with very little risk.”
Much like with Barley, the menu at Faith & Pizza is always in a state of flux and showcases Ramos’ signature inventive flair. Appetizers like beef back ribs, roasted bone marrow and fresh raw oysters serve to whet the palate, while a variety of macaroni and cheese dishes provide an indulgent pasta supplement to veggie dishes such as their delicious Tuscan kale Caesar salad.
While pizza certainly is well represented with up to nine different offerings ranging from standard tomato and cheese pies to experimental concoctions like “Clams Casino” and “Short Rib & Kale,” diners would be remiss were they to forego imaginative plates like the squid ink fettuccini featuring seafood marinara, octopus and cherry tomatoes gremolata. Every dish can be washed down with their on-tap wine, Line 39, a popular California Cabernet.
“We want to reach our goal of $100,000 and right now we’re finding the right combinations of main dishes, appetizers, snacks and drinks to get our numbers where we need them to be,” Ramos said. “We’re used to running higher-end restaurants, so there’s a learning curve there, but we’re enjoying the challenge. The fact that it will all go towards helping these great causes is just the icing on the cake.”
Faith & Pizza is located at 8975 SW 72 Pl. in Downtown Dadeland. For more information, visit www.FaithandPizza.com.