Justin Flit, Chef-owner of Proof Pizza & Pasta
Why he’s in the Food 50: A fresh-faced South Florida native, Flit, 30, has a fine-dining résumé that should catch the attention of any James Beard judge: cooking professionally since his teens; formal training in New York; thriving in the heavy-hitting kitchens of Daniel Boulud and Michael Mina; exec-cheffing at a flashy new spot in Boca. And now he has traded in the mother sauces and high prices for a wood-burning pizza oven and a pasta extruder at Proof, which he opened in October in Midtown Miami.
Flit owns the modest-size, sparsely decorated restaurant with his parents and runs it with chef de cuisine Matt DePante and pastry chef Malcolm Prude. Proof earned an “excellent” 3.5-star review last month from Miami Herald critic Victoria Pesce Elliott, who had equal raves for the carb-forward main attractions (“Shredded oxtail pizza with caramelized onions and black garlic ... is the stuff cravings are made of.”) as she did for fresh salads, seafood plates, housemade mozzarrella and service.
When talent like Flit — young, humble, ambitious, homegrown — opens a place like Proof, where hospitality and quality are upscale but the check averages and vibe are decidedly neighborhood-friendly, we all win.
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His pizza secret: YouTube. Ask Flit how he dialed in the time-honored craft of making Neapolitan-style pizzas — proofing dough of finely milled flour before shaping pies by hand and moving them around a 900-degree oven for a matter of seconds until bubbly and charred — and he readily acknowledges the guidance of watching others go through the steps in YouTube videos.
Where to find him: Proof Pizza & Pasta, 3328 N. Miami Ave., Miami.