I generally try to avoid chain restaurants, but everyone has some chains they like. One of my favorites is Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza (https://acfp.com/), a chain founded in 2002 right here in Florida — Fort Lauderdale, to be exact. Not only do they have excellent pizza baked in an 800-degree coal fired oven, they also serve some of my absolute favorite chicken wings and unique ribs I love, that are totally different than what you’d get at any barbecue joints.
On one visit to the Altamonte Springs location in late 2018, I brought home a lunch-sized Paulie’s Pie, my favorite of their pizzas, with mini-meatballs, crumbled Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, and sweet peppers (you can also choose hot peppers), in addition to their tangy red sauce and regular mozzarella. The crust has some burned spots, but it never tastes burnt or ashy. It’s a thin crust, but not super-crispy. It is softer than you think, and it is awesome.
These are the oven-roasted pork spare ribs, roasted in the coal oven with garlic, rosemary, white wine, and spicy vinegar peppers (I can’t get enough of those things!). You can get an order of six (I did) or twelve. I love barbecue ribs, and these are nothing like them, but they’re outstanding. So tender — the meat easily peels off the bone, but doesn’t just “fall apart.” The flavor is incredible, but they sure are spicy.
This is a piece of their oven-baked focaccia bread, which is very soft, but it has a perfectly light, crispy (but NOT crunchy) exterior.
On a more recent visit in late November, I treated myself to a LARGE Paulie’s Pie to go, knowing I’d get three or four meals out of it.
Yea yea, that’s the stuff.
They also had new spice-rubbed wings, which I decided to try since I love their original oven-roasted wings so much, and these were a limited-time fall special. They were fine, but I prefer the flavor of the originals. Plus, the original wings come buried under a mountain of caramelized onions, with more of that great focaccia bread. I feel like I missed out on those beloved accompaniments with the special wings.
They happened to have a promotion going on where I got a free order of pumpkin cannoli, so that was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I’m not usually the biggest pumpkin fanboy, but these were great. The pumpkin cream filling was very subtly pumpkin-flavored, to the point where even a pumpkin hater would not have had a problem with them. They were dusted with cinnamon and a squirt of sticky, syrupy pumpkin glaze. I liked them a lot and made a mental note to try their regular cannoli on a future visit.
I have a top three pizza ranking for Orlando, and Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza is definitely in it, alongside Pizza Bruno (which I have reviewed before) and Pizzeria Del Dio. All three are very different, but all superb and worth trying. I’m pickier on wings, but Anthony’s wings are definitely in my top four wings in town, along with Kai Asian Street Fare, Hawkers, and 4 Rivers Smokehouse. All very different wings, and none of them are the traditional fried-to-a-crisp, burn-your-mouth-and-ass-off Buffalo-style sports bar wings.
Anthony’s also offers some lunch sandwiches on their focaccia bread, and you can buy a reusable metal pot of their meatballs in sauce. I have never indulged that much, but if I was throwing a party, I’d consider it. Oh, who am I kidding? We hardly ever entertain anymore. I’d probably just buy the pot o’meatballs and eat them all myself over the course of a week. Dare to dream…