Food

This pizza spot is a cult favorite. And it’s coming to the new-and-improved CocoWalk

Extraordinary visa brings an extraordinary Italian pizza chef to Miami

Renato Viola gained entry into the United States under a O-1 visa for temporary workers, as an "individual who possesses extraordinary ability." His skill? He was an award-winning pizza chef in Italy. He opened Mister O1 Extraordinary Pizza on Mia
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Renato Viola gained entry into the United States under a O-1 visa for temporary workers, as an "individual who possesses extraordinary ability." His skill? He was an award-winning pizza chef in Italy. He opened Mister O1 Extraordinary Pizza on Mia

Coconut Grove’s pizza game is about to reach extraordinary levels.

Mister O1 Extraordinary Pizza — started by an Italian pizza chef whose pies are so good they earned him an “extraordinary ability” immigrant visa — is the latest restaurant announced in the renovated CocoWalk.

Founded in a hidden shop in Miami Beach, Mister O1 is the second restaurant to join the new shopping area, following Los Generales Mezcal & Grill, announced earlier this year. Both will open after the renovation next year.

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Mister O1’s pizzas are renowned for pizzaiolo Renato Viola’s personal-sized star-shaped pies, where each point is stuffed with a ricotta-cream cheese. The thin, Neapolitan-style pizzas are named after friends and topped with locally sourced or imported high-quality ingredients, each with thoughtful combinations.

The Piero is topped with speck, white truffle oil and mozzarella. The Jacqueline, with tomatoes, white truffle and eggs. And the Coffe Paolo is topped with tangy salami, gorgonzola, honey — and dusted in powdered coffee. Fans seek it out in the hidden shop at 1680 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach.

Viola was a prize-winning pizza maker from Agropolia, a tiny town near the Amalfi coast, where he started sweeping floors when he was 11 and making pies at 14. He started making award-winning pizzas and later competing in pizza acrobatics — tossing and spinning pizzas — an actual Italian sport.

Extraordinary Pizza 03 EKM
Chef Renato Viola, co-owner of Mister O1, slides a Star Luca pizza, a favorite at the Miami Beach pizzeria, into the oven on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Viola was an award-winning pizza chef in Italy who gained entry into the United States under an O-1 visa for temporary workers, as an ‘individual who possesses extraordinary ability.’ Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

He emigrated in 2010 after applying for an O-1 visa, where he had to show “extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.”

He opened his first store with eight tables in a nameless gray office building on Miami Beach, where it remains a favorite. It was so successful that he had to change the original name, Visa O-1, after the credit card company sent him a cease-and-desist letter.

The CocoWalk location, an 1,100 square-foot indoor and outdoor spot, will be Viola’s fifth, after franchising the concept. Mister 01 will join several other successful pizza spots in the Grove, including Harry’s Pizzeria, Michael Schwartz’s successful brand, and Farinelli’s 1937, from the owners of the longtime favorite Strada in the Grove.

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