Twenty-five years after Seinfeld’s Kramer had the crazy idea for a pizza place where customers make their own pizza, the concept has come to South Florida. At Pizza Dude in Miami Beach, you can wear an apron and chef’s cap and adorn your pizza with a choice of sauce and 40 toppers from artichoke hearts to zucchini.
Owners Ron and Roberta Gould and son Justin may have stolen the idea — the episode plays on TV 24/7 in the window — but they streamlined the concept (no sticking arms in a hot oven).
Ron’s grandparents moved in the 1930s from Manhattan to Miami Beach, where they were founding members of Temple Beth Shalom. Ron moved down with his family as a child, returning to New York for law school. After coming back to Miami with his wife, he practiced business and immigration law. A year ago some golf buddies challenged him to open an eatery, and he chose pizza.
You choose a crust (10- or 14-inch white, whole wheat or gluten free) and pick toppings from the front counter. They come to your table in cups and you spread the sauce and arrange the toppings to build a custom pie. It is then baked in a conveyor oven and returned to you five or 10 minutes later.
Sauces include tomato-basil, zesty barbecue, spicy buffalo, buttermilk ranch and herb pesto. Canadian bacon, meatballs, sausage and grilled steak, chicken, turkey or tofu are among the proteins.
“From the garden” there are caramelized onions, olives, peppers, spinach, eggplant and sun-dried tomatoes. Choose from Cheddar, goat, blue, feta, ricotta and Daiya vegan cheeses.
While you wait, munch beer battered-fried mushrooms or onion rings. Apple pie pizza sprinkled in cinnamon with walnuts and whipped cream ends the party here.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami food writer and personal chef who can be reached at email@example.com.