New York City often has been dubbed the unofficial Mecca of pizza. Major franchises such as Dominoes offer “Brooklyn style” pizza, and every third pizza shop in Miami has a New York reference or New York decor to make you feel like you are getting an official unofficial slice of New York.
Many places have tried to capture the spirit of that New York magic and although some have come close only one pizza joint gives you the real New York flavor. Pauloluigi, located at 2859 Bird Ave. in Coconut Grove, is home to one of the best slices available in Miami-Dade County.
A bit of experience comes into delivering a truly authentic pizza. Paul Shalaj started his journey in 1973, working at his dad’s friends restaurant. He worked in various New York City pizza parlous before finding his way down to Miami. When he arrived, he started working at Cazollies before opening his own place on SW 27th Avenue near Shell Lumber.
With more than 35 years of experience, 25 in Coconut Grove, it is safe to say they have stood the test of time. The recipe for the dough is a hand me down, he explained.
“The recipe that I have here a gentleman taught me, which he was doing it for 40 years and the old man that taught him was doing it for 40 years, and here he is telling me now after he is been making it for 45 years. That’s 125 years that this recipe has been passed on,” Shalaj said.
The ingredients are simple but come together perfectly. Pauloluigi is deeply rooted in tradition, offering some incredible staples such as the world-famous Margherita pizza, but they are not afraid to get creative. Every dish is based on Mediterranean traditions and held to the highest standards.
From pizza to pasta, chicken to dessert, Pauloluigi has a dish that will impress anyone’s taste buds. Perhaps the wall of fame is the biggest testament to that. Celebrities and athletes from all over have found their way to Pauloluigi including Juwan Howard, Alonzo Mourning, Jim Kelly, Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, Coach Spo, and Michael Jordan.
Shalaj stands behind the phrase “size matters” and when it comes to his pie, his large is king. The average pizza place will serve you a 16-inch large pie, not Pauloluigi, they come in at 18 inches. Dollar for dollar, it’s the best value you can get.
Although Pauloluigi has been deep-rooted in Coconut Grove for so many years, many of his customers have migrated west to Kendall. After hearing so many stories of people battling traffic and investing an hour of driving each way, Paul decided he needed to help his customers out and let Pauloluigi spread its wings. The organization is expanding, and very excited to be opening a new location in Kendall.
Whichever location you choose to try, eating the pizza is an absolute must. If you want to go beyond the pie, Shalaj suggests you try the Penne Vodka.
“It’s one of our best dishes,” he says with pride and excitement. “The way we melt the cheese on top, everyone loves it”
Of course, no true Italian restaurant is complete without homemade lasagna, and Pauloluigi makes sure to provide this staple as well. Simply put, it is a decadent experience layered in flavor and tradition.
Pauloluigi has truly established itself as a Grove favorite and stands as an example of what consistency and quality truly mean.
You can find Pauloluigi in Coconut Grove at 2859 Bird Ave. or in Kendall at 9605 N Kendall Dr. You can visit them online at http://pauloluigi.com or on Instagram @pauloluigitogo.