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Chef’s Choice: Lucali’s Dominic Cavagnuolo loves stone crabs and tequeños, is a sucker for a good ocean view

Virginia Gil
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Virginia Gil

We’ll give credit where it’s due: New Yorkers make the best pizza. But Miami has been inching on the competition ever since Brooklyn pizza darling Lucali opened its second restaurant in Sunset Harbour six years ago. Now, owner Dominic Cavagnuolo is preparing for yet another move: Brickell. He’s taking the essence of Lucali, updating the concept to something better suited for the fast-paced financial district, and changing its name.

DC PIE CO. is a speedier Lucali to put it simply, featuring an identical menu only in a digital format that allows customers to order and pay right from a tablet on their table. “It’s the same great menu and vibe but we’ve integrated technology into the experience. If you need to be in and out because it’s lunchtime then you’re not stuck there waiting,” says Cavagnuolo. Besides speedier service, pies will get smaller, going from Lucali’s traditional 18 inches to DC’s 15-inch pies intended for solo diners and couples looking for a quick bite. DC PIE CO. opens at 1010 Brickell Avenue, Suite 200, later this month. In the meantime, we caught up with owner Cavagnuolo and talked about his favorite places in Miami and what customers can’t get enough of at Lucali.

On where he goes for a night out:

La Petite Maison. That is my go-to. I really like the vibe in there and service is on point. My order? The escargot and the entrecote steak.

On the sleeper hit at Lucali:

The meatballs are delicious. They’re all-Black-Angus beef meatballs and we prep them fresh every afternoon and make them to order in the evening. I’m so particular about food that’s made by hand. Growing up in an Italian family, everything was made fresh for me. I’m used to fresh ingredients and food that’s made with love and tenderness. I would not eat [food] if it’s not done the same way, regardless of whether it is my restaurant or not.

On where he goes for a cocktail:

The Standard. I go the Standard mainly for the view. I love always being on the water, looking out at the boats. It’s just a really chill, good vibe. We’re all about the vibes. For me, it’s all about the feeling, my environment and the people I’m with.

On the most underrated spot in the city:

I like this little place in Key Biscayne called Artisan Kitchen and Bar (658 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne) that’s kind of chill and laid-back. I go there for the cachapas and tequeños. They’re so good.

On his idea of a hidden gem:

I still go to Joe’s Take Away for lunch. I get the stone crabs or the lobster sandwich. It’s nostalgic for me in a way because I discovered it early on when I moved to Miami. In New York, we used to order red label stone crabs for lunch on Fridays and get it delivered. It was a big deal to get Florida stone crabs in New York, so when I moved here, Joe’s became one of my special spots.


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