WYNWOOD, Fla. – There are bigger names in the South Florida pizza industry, and there are certainly smaller ma’ and pa’ pizza joints along Bird Road, US-1, Alton Road — you name it. However, there’s one unsuspecting pizza spot, whose roots come straight from Caserta, Italy, that you might have missed.
Mister O1, whose own website states it’s “That famous hidden place,” is a true diamond in the rough — literally. One of their prime locations in the Miami neighborhood of Wynwood seems to have had nearby construction surrounding the property over the past two years. However, both physically and metaphorically, it’s what is in the inside that counts.
Founded by Renato Viola in 2014, Mister O1′s first location was in an 18-seat pizzeria tucked away in an office building in South Beach. And that “O1″ in the restaurant’s name? It’s a nod to the O-1 Visa Viola was granted in order to move to the United States.
Food & Wine Senior Editor David Landsel describes Viola as a “a well-regarded pizza maker from the old country who came to the United States because some very smart person in government decided we needed his pizza skills.”
And we agree.
Today, Viola, whose pizza recipes and ingredients come straight from Italy, has locations not only across Florida, but around the world. You can find a Mister O1 in Wynwood, South Beach, Coconut Grove, Brickell, Naples, and even all the way in Madrid, Spain, and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. You can say Viola is a master of his craft.
According to Naples Daily News, Viola’s simple simple dough-folding trick is what sets his pizzas apart. “The kitchen cuts slits at the edge of the crust, then folds it into eight points, filling each with a creamy dollop of ricotta. These points add another layer of texture, creating thicker bits of dough with a satisfying tug to them — deepening my obsession,” says their delicious description.
Furthermore, Landsel raves, “Viola’s delicious and distinctive star-cornered pies, with pockets of creamy ricotta cheese... The terrific Neapolitan pies ought to answer any questions you might have.”
And in the most poignant and delicious words of Landsel himself, “When you want the best, just go somewhere they speak Italian, the modern kind, like Mister 01 in Miami.”