Posted By: Pizza Expert on June 13th, 2011
Ever since Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza opened up in Fort Lauderdale, and grew, it seems like everyone thinks they can hop on the bandwagon. Luigi’s Coal Oven Pizza on Las Olas in Ft. Lauderdale is the latest of places to open in hopes of cashing in on the coal craze. Luigi’s Coal Oven Pizza I believe is owned by the same guys who serve some pretty great food at Tuscan Grill a little further west. Luigi’s Coal Oven Pizza is a cute place tucked away in the back of a parking lot next to Rocco’s Tacos. It was a quaint place, housing only 8 tables. I had tremendous hopes for this new place since the pizza at Tuscan Grill is pretty darn good with a wood oven.
Lets first look at why they might have chosen a coal oven to begin with. Unlike a wood oven, cooking pizza with coal oven should come with a tremendous investment in first understanding the proper operation of the oven. A coal fire is much harder to start (get hot) and is more difficult to manage than a wood fire or gas burner. Even the simple aspect of getting anthracite coal to burn right requires an ignition source in excess of 900 degrees (F) that is usually provided by a bed for burning charcoal or wood. Dry wood by comparison, burns more quickly and starts burning at around 450 F. Coal has roughly twice the heat/energy potential of wood (13,000 BTUs per pound for coal versus roughly 6,500 BTUs per pound for wood) so accessing and managing its potential energy when and where you need it can be challenging. (courtesy of woodstone-corp). So just hiring some regular pizza guy to run this oven is not enough to produce quality pizza. Just because you can cook with wood, does not mean you can cook with coal.
My friend had told me during his previous two visits that the pizza comes out undercooked, so he suggested we ordered it well done. It probably comes out undercooked since the pizza maker never worked with coal before and just because it looks well done on top, does not mean it cooked properly on the bottom. This is a tell tale sign of an oven that isn’t calibrated properly. So we ordered a plain (margherita) pie, and I asked for no basil, since I just wanted to taste the pizza as is. I was informed by the server that Luigi’s Coal Oven Pizza is an approved member of VPN (vera pizza napoletana) and that they cannot make any changes to the pie! Really guys, you cannot leave the basil you place on top of the pie after it is cooked off? Sorry to ask you to extend yourself to please a customer.
I thought the pizza was average at best, and I really expected more since it was my favorite style. Thin crust, with light sauce and decent cheese ratio. The bottom of the crust was every color from black to brown to white which was nice to look at but shows how much flour this pizziola used while preparing it. Wanna see just how much flour? Look below:
And as if this wasn’t enough proof, check out the mounds of flour left over on our pizza tray. You cannot make this stuff up people! I know lately I have done nothing but complain about the excess flour that most pizza places use, but this is overkill for sure.
This is just what everyone ordered right, some pizza and a side order of flour
So when I say that places use too much flour, I hope you all won’t keep sending in the emails complaining that I speak about it too much. If Luigi’s doesn’t use too much flour, then maybe I am just always wrong when it comes to the excess flour discussion.
I didn’t really hate the pizza but I certainly didn’t love it either. The sauce was a bit bitter (clever play on words there). The cheese was good, but the pie didn’t have enough of it applied, and since it was overloaded with basil, it was hard to taste anything but the basil, oh and the flour too. Maybe it was growing pains, maybe it was just lack of coal education, but I cannot say that I enjoyed this pizza as much as I should have. Personally, I even thought Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza was better than this.
Luigi’s Coal Oven Pizza gets 4 out of 8 slices. I sure hope they fix some of their cooking issues, or it will be hard to compete against their other place up the road, or many of the other pizza places on Las Olas for that matter. We know the potential is there for them to be like Tuscan Grill, just relax, take a breath and put a little more care into the pie.
Irrelevant to the pizza, I did love the mozzarella carozza, tasted great. I really didn’t like how close the tables were to the people behind me, the other patrons kept bumping into my chair, almost making me spill my soda a few times. Also the parking lot made me EXTREMELY nervous while eating, since the cars parking and pulling out almost hit the window throughout our dining experience.