Giovanni di Palma is more than just passionate about pizza— it’s his life and seemingly his energy source.
Honored for his pizza both nationally and back in Italy, Giovanni di Palma is bringing his pride and joy to South Beach with Antico Pizza. His pizza is literally award-winning: Best Pizza in the US by Zagat, Abasciatore il Mondo by Commune di Napoli, and an international “Top in Class” award at the Festa Della Pizza in Salerno, where he still imports his flour from today.
He opened his first iconic pizza joint in Atlanta and evolved it into a mini Italian empire. Now, he’s made his way to Miami Beach to open a “mini Italian food district” called Centro Storico. His grand opening in December included visits from his friends, Ludacris and Young Jeezy. Occupying the entire corner of 11th Street and Collins it includes Antico Pizza, Gio’s Chicken, Bar Amalfi, and Caffè Gio, Centro Storico offers an Italian culinary expedition for guests of all ages to enjoy.
The evening began with Chef Giovanni himself greeting each of us with his larger than life personality and a larger than most pizza. “Longest pizza in Miami Beach,” Di Palma bellowed with a smile.
He prepared a classic Margherita pizza, cheese first topped with San Marzano tomato sauce and basil (aka Italian perfume according to Chef). The pizza was cooked in less than 90 seconds in the iconic centerpiece oven.
Made by hand in Italy, the custom-made pizza oven uses salt blocks and rocks from the region surrounding Mount Vesuvius. The oven temperature lives around 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which creates the perfect pizza paradox: crisp crust and a doughy center.
After sampling a few different pizzas and a couple Perronis, we made our way over to Gio’s Chicken. A quaint family spot decorated with pale wood tones and muted hues, Gio’s Chicken invites friends and family to come on in and stay a while.
Though there’s not much physical separation between Antico Pizza and Gio’s Chicken, there’s some purposeful overlap. At Gio’s Chicken, guests are encouraged to order pies from Antico Pizza to share as they are made to order and bake quickly in the custom pizza oven. However, the roasted chicken varieties offered at Gio’s Chicken are not available to eat at Antico’s Pizza. The idea is simple: pizza culture is fast and an expertly roasted chicken is a labor of love that takes time to eat and should be enjoyed accordingly.
The tour continued at Caffè Gio, a beautifully quaint gelato and adjacent coffee shop. Here, Chef Giovanni appeared again to offer cannoli stuffed to order and espresso from a historic coffee machine. That coffee machine used to make coffee for the infamous Al Capone, and was even present when the New York gangster was apprehended by the authorities. Giovanni bought the machine and had it refurbished to keep a piece of iconic New York history alive at Centro Storico.
The evening ended at Bar Amalfi, a balcony bar spot available for events and parties, where we were greeted with ice cold limoncello and stunning South Beach views. Overall, Centro Storico has something to offer for everyone. Escape from the typical Miami experience and take a trip to Chef Giovanni di Palma’s Italian paradise.
Centro Storico/ Antico Pizza
1058 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, FL