In my review of Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza from earlier this year, I mentioned it is one of my top three favorite pizzerias in Orlando, alongside Pizza Bruno and a third I’m finally getting around to writing about: Pizzeria Del Dio (http://pizzeriadel-dio.com/). Located at 3210 East Colonial Drive in Orlando (near the Maguire intersection, across from the Fashion Square Mall), Del Dio is not visible from busy Colonial. It is still a bit of a secret after ten years in business, but it shouldn’t be.
While Anthony’s Coal Fired bakes really terrific coal oven pizza and Pizza Bruno specializes in Neopolitan-style, Del Dio quietly serves up Orlando’s best New York-style AND Sicilian-style pizzas. However, I argue that both kinds of pizzas are best enjoyed hot, crispy, and melty right out of the oven, at the restaurant. They’re perfectly fine if you get them to go (as I have done countless times), but any pizza loses something on the drive back home or to the office. Trust me on this. In this age of delivery and instant gratification, not enough people appreciate going out for pizza anymore.
So this is my regular order when I go to Del Dio, conveniently ten minutes from work: a slice of regular and a slice of Sicilian. The regular NY-style pizza is thin and crispy, meant to be folded. They have a wide range of toppings, and I tend to like meatballs on my pizza (sometimes sliced, sometimes crumbled), but it’s great just plain, with a dusting of parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.
Sicilian pizza, for the uninitiated, is thick, cooked in a rectangular pan and cut into square or rectangular slices. It’s not a “casserole” like Chicago’s deep dish so-called pizza. Sicilian very clearly meets the definition of pizza, just different from what most people are used to. Some are a little softer, others are crispier. I like mine somewhere in between, and the edges of Del Dio’s Sicilian slices are always nice and crispy with the slightest char, especially when I dine in and they take it right out of the oven for me. But once you get to the middle of the slice, it’s pillowy-soft. The cheese is always fresh and melty, and it contains more sauce than your typical NY-style slice. It’s a thick, hearty sauce that seems chunkier than the sauce on their regular pizza. (I think sauce is the most underappreciated ingredient on a good pizza, almost an afterthought too often.) But mama mia, they’re so good!
I’ve always heard Del Dio has really good wings, and I am hard to please when it comes to wings. A lot of the time you get maximum mess, minimal meat. Crunchy, greasy, dry sports bar-style Buffalo wings are my least-favorites. But I gave Del Dio’s wings a chance recently and was pleasantly surprised. These were mild, and they had plenty of meat and a nice, crackly crispiness to them. They were so hot (temperature-hot, not spicy-hot), I burned my fingertips and my mouth a little.
They also make excellent meatballs, which you can get as a side order like this, in a sub, or even as a pizza topping. Like I said, I’ve had them show up both sliced and crumbled on my pizza in the past, but here they are whole — a lot more photogenic this way.
They also serve surprisingly fantastic onion rings, with the golden-brown battered coating that I love. They are totally “my type” of onion rings. Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph or order them for this review, so it isn’t an official Ring the Alarm! feature.
We often order Del Dio at work, either for pizza parties for our staff or to reward the students in the evening classes I occasionally teach. We are inside their regular delivery range, but for our latest staff luncheon, I picked them up:
Pepperoni:I have thoughts and feelings about pepperoni on pizza. If you’re gonna get it, get it from a place like Del Dio that is generous with the pepperoni, laying out lots of flat slices like on the above pie. I don’t love it when pepperoni slices curl up into crunchy little grease traps. Honestly, I like pepperoni best served cold, salami-style, sliced thin in an Italian hoagie alongside its cured meat brothers and sisters, adding a bit of pleasant spiciness. But if you’re gonna put pepperoni on pizza, this is definitely the way to do it.
But this was the crowd-pleasing favorite: thin-sliced, breaded eggplant cutlet and roasted red peppers! People grabbed slices before I could even take this photo. It was fabulous, and almost everyone agreed we’d order this again in the future. I was thinking the only thing that could possibly improve it (aside from eating it at the restaurant for maximum crispness) was to add some ricotta.
And the obligatory salad that some people shared (actually quite good):
So yeah, that’s Del Dio. I crave that Sicilian pizza far too often, and don’t indulge often enough. But just FYI, if you are ordering pizzas for a large group, they will “double-cut” the pizzas to turn a classic NY-style from 8 large slices into 16 thinner ones, or to subdivide the Sicilian from 8 large, rectangular slices into 16 smaller squares. Your family, friends, co-workers, and students will thank you. And if you really want to enjoy Pizzeria Del Dio as it should be enjoyed, venture forth to the actual pizzeria and eat your pizza right there, at the scene. The difference is night and day!