Friday night is family night and with the school year winding down and the kids off to camp soon, we don’t have many Fridays left with just the four of us. Oh who am I kidding, we can use the peace and quiet. I had heard a lot about, and had been meaning to try, Pizzeria Oceano in Lantana. So in the words of Lebron James, we decided to take our talent to Pizzeria Oceano.
Our 7 year old eats practically anything, as long as anything is sushi, tuna tartare or shrimp. Yes he’s a 7yr old who hates traditional kids foods. With an expensive palette like that he is clearly our child. So to avoid a 5pm meltdown after a long day of school, we decided to tell him we were going for pizza, when we got there.
From what we had heard and read, Pizzeria Oceano was described as everything from the best pizzeria in Palm Beach County to the worst pizzeria ever to the Seinfeld equivalent of the Soup Natzi, in this case, the Pizza Natzi’s. We will be the judge of that.
The restaurant is just a block east of US1 on Ocean avenue, and if you didn’t see the tables outside and a crowd of people forming, you might just miss the place. They open at 6pm sharp, Tuesday through Saturday, parking is difficult and they do not take reservations. They seat first come, first serve and cash only. There are about 5 bar stools inside, set in front of the open kitchen and the rest of the seating is outside, al fresco, which could be fun (or the opposite of that) from May to October in South Florida. With that being the backdrop and hoping I’m not coming off negative. I will start by saying, you have to go to Pizzeria Oceano!
Chef and owner Dak Kerprich sources local fresh ingredients, both meats and vegetables, for his menu, and will not sacrifice quality. The menu, updated daily or as frequent as ingredients change, usually consisting of a few different salads, a pasta item, a speciality pizza, and a their “Basic” pizza. He makes his own mozzarella daily, picks basil from his garden and what ever needs to be kept chilled, goes into 2 small coolers under the counter, there is no freezer (and there shouldn’t be, in any restaurant, unless your needing to store ice cream). In fact, he preps as much as he thinks he needs for the day, including pizza dough and when they run out, they either close up shop or your SOL. No additions or substitutions allowed, or at least very much frowned upon and forget about take out. It’s sort of a take it or leave it business model and it seems to be working. I should try that at dinner time with my kids. With previous stints at Max’s Grille in Boca, Kyoto in Delray Beach and most recently the chef and owner of Suite 225 (closed) just a few doors down, Dak is not new to the restaurant business.
We started off with 2 salads. A Celery Root Slaw with apples, peanuts, aged cheddar, parsley and chili oil. And the Red Shrimp & Corn Salad with tarragon, feta, scallions and baby heirloom tomatoes. Both fresh, well balanced and delicious! Despite the no substitution or addition policy, they were extremely accommodative. In fact my daughter only eats white pizza, dough and cheese, no sauce, they didn’t have a problem with that. And my son, the sushi and shrimp eater, just ate a bowl or the shrimp that was prepared in the salad. Disaster averted.
We ordered the special, Spigarello Pizza with broccoli spigarello, olives, garlic, caciocavallo, mozzarella, pecorino and chili. Chef Dak works the pizza station and when I tell you this was an excellent pie, I wouldn’t be doing it justice. The secret Dak says, is in his pizza oven, wood fired, and custom built by Dak and his partner Bob Nothnagle. We couldn’t stop at just one pizza, so we ordered “The Basic Pizza,” with salami calabrese, one of 6 add-ons they offer. Hot out of the oven, perfectly cooked and finished with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly cut basil.
I am not kidding when I say, this is one of the best pizza’s I have found in not only Palm Beach County, but all of South Florida. In full disclosure, I am writing this article while eating the left over slices from last night! (which Dak would clearly frown upon).
201 East Ocean Avenue