After the bad Margherita Pizza I got on my last visit, I hadn't been back to Luigi's in over 2 years. I decided to eat in; I've been doing a lot more eating in on my second pass through the city; to get a better perspective as to what tourists might experience.
I walked in at the same time as another couple, and we both just grabbed tables by the windows. Plenty of tables available at 2:58pm.
The view is nothing to get excited about here. Luigi's is one of the few places on Las Olas with their own free parking lot, so that's certainly a positive.
I ordered an iced tea with extra lemon; I don't think that english was my server's first language, as she seemed to think the "extra lemon" and "with lemon" were the same thing.
Luigi's Iced Tea
They have a couple of entrees, but do I really want coal fired lasagna? I didn't want a pizza; they don't have a lunch menu so you're paying "All Day" prices. One thing I thought was hilarious is that the menu they have on their web site has no prices (Bad Restaurant Trick), but on the bottom it has in big letters "Prices Subject To Change". Nothing like attention to detail.
I teetered between the meatball panani and the sausage and peppers panini; finally deciding on the sausage and peppers. They don't tell you what comes with the sandwich, and no choices were offered.
Music is kind of odd; not dance music so I could deal with it. The decor is interesting with lots of paintings; better than the view of the parking lot.
The sandwich came out pretty quickly. The load of chips from a bag was a bit disappointing, as I wouldn't be eating any of those. Small sandwich and a load of chips. Typical bad restaurant trick.
Luigi's Sausage and Peppers Panini
At first glance it looked ok. Not overflowing with peppers and onions. I'm not sure that provolone cheese belongs on a sausage and peppers sandwich.
Luigi's Sausage and Peppers Panini
I took a bite. There was something off about the sausage. Maybe it was a few days old, or just a bad recipe. The peppers were mushy also; clearly not freshly grilled. Whats the point of paying the prices for a coal oven when the stuff isn't freshly made. The sandwich also didn't seem to have sausage in the rear. I opened it up.
Luigi's Sausage and Peppers Panini Inside
What a gyp! only half a sandwich for $10.95. This really isn't "festival" style'. First, they don't have panini presses at festivals, and they load the sandwich up with sausage and peppers. This is a sandwich made by a bean counter. The chips and pre-cooked vegetables are low-labor; problem is that you can get a better sandwich at a hot dog stand than this.
$3 for an iced tea, because, well, this is a very high end fancy restaurant.
I really didn't like this sandwich. Raising prices is expected, but when restaurants raise prices AND cut portions, it's time to find someplace else to eat.
Do YOU think this lunch is worth $15 before tip? You make the call.
Luigi's was overpriced when they opened, and now they're much worse. Owned by the people who own Johnny V and Tuscan Grill, it seems they're taking the bad restaurant theme to a new level.
The big problem with Luigi's is that you can probably get better food a 1/2 block away at Pizza City for 25% less. It's not a nice restaurant so why pay these prices?
Time to try another pie from Luigi's. I had a "Tomato Pie", which wasn't bad. Time to try a Margherita Pizza. I'd had a pretty good one at Rossopomodoro; a new place that opened on Las Olas, so I figured I'd see how Luigi's measured up.
Recently they've roped off part of the parking lot and added a lot of outdoor tables; the problem is that there isn't enough parking, and there is no dedicated take out spots. So you may find yourself parking in the middle of the lot to pick up a pizza. Service inside is disorganized at best; so don't expect to be in and out in a minute to pick up a pizza.
My first impression of the pizza was that it was short on cheese. On first taste, the sauce was very sweet and the cheese was too hard; it didn't seem like fresh mozzarella. Fresh mozzarella shouldn't be this hard cold, much less warm; re-heating the slices didn't help much. There's one of two possibilities here; either their "homemade mozzarella" is junk, or the coal fired oven is so hot that it sucked all of the moisture out of it. Regardless of what it is, they've been opened for over 6 months and they should have either figured out that they can't make Margherita pizzas in a coal fired oven or adjusted the recipe to make it work.
They've already raised their prices since they opened; a 16" margherita pizza is now $14.95. I wouldn't order a margherita pizza here again.
I stopped by again mid afternoon and ordered some wings to go. Inside, the place is a bit cramped, with a small bar and tables very close together in the small space.
Inside, Luigi's is a bit cramped; they've gotten a lot of stuff into a pretty small space. There's a small bar, 3 big TVs and a bunch of tables. There's an open oven area in the corner where you can watch the pizza makers doing their thing. It's not much different than your typical pizzeria; but you could certainly eat in at this place.
The place was literally all men; it reminded me of the issue I had with Tuscan (if you know what I mean).
It took about 10 minutes to make the wings, which come with caramelized onions and focaccia bread.
Luigi's Coal Oven Wings
I'm not sure why the wings come with bread; it was more like a flatbread than real foccacia and nothing I really want with wings. The onions were good, but I don't put onions on wings and they were mushy and didn't seem freshly made.
Is everyone trying to be Anthony's? I had some original Hidden Valley Ranch which was great on the wings; the wings were also very good plain. Char grilled wings are great all by themselves.
Luigi Dimeo, formerly of the Tuscan Grill, has opened Luigi’s Coal Oven Pizza, a small eatery featuring Coal Oven Pizza, wings and other Italian Specialties. No Doubt modeled after Anthony’s, the successful coal fired pizza chain that has now gone national; Luigi has a larger menu, and on first sampling, better pizza.
You can get an "authentic" Margherita Pizza here, but I prefer New York style, so I ordered a 1/2 sausage “Tomato Pie”, which is what the Italians call a NY style pizza.
Luigi's Coal Oven half sausage tomato pie
My first look at the pie was that is was cooked nicely; a bit black here and there but not burned; the crust was actually soft. My second impression was that it was a bit small. The pie measured exactly 15″ round, which to me, is 1 inch smaller than a 16″ pizza should be. Do pizza’s shrink in a coal oven? It may not seem like much, but those of you who remember your geometry know that a 15″ pizza is about 15% smaller than a 16″ pizza.
Tasting the pizza, they use a dense, crumbled sausage here; it was very good; I suppose the coal fired oven sucks all of the moisture out of it. The crust was perfect; not burned, pliant without being chewy. Good sauce and cheese. My only complaint was that they crumbled some cheese on it, probably parmesan, and NY style pizza doesn’t have parmesan on it. If some cretin wants to ruin their slice with cheese go ahead and put it on the table, but it doesn’t belong on the pizza.
They have more than just pizza at Luigi’s; the place has been pretty crowded since they’ve opened and they have a few interesting menu items. We have the menu here.