Dining review: Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza a new hot spot in Cranston
Company founder Anthony Bruno and partner Dan Marino of NFL fame have opened their first R.I. location in Garden City, with pizza, wings and other Italian favorites cooked to crispy perfection in an 800-degree oven.
By Gail Ciampa
Journal Food Editor
Coal-fired pizza and wings aren’t new to Rhode Island. But restaurants that serve them are still rare enough to make them something to celebrate.
At Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, which opened last month in Garden City, the proprietors revel along with you. They truly seem to love the pizza, wings and their meatballs, too, that are cooking at crazy-high temperatures in an oven fueled by coal. The method makes for a crusty pizza that cooks quickly and chicken wings that are wonderfully crispy.
If you love your pizza with a well-done crust, and I do, you will love Anthony’s. There’s no wiggle when you pick up a slice, just a good crunch and then a bright plum-tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella cheese in every bite.
Some guests have sent back the pizza as burned, said General Manager Francesco Cicco, but it’s just the 800-plus-degree heat that blackens parts of the pizza’s edge. It tastes wonderful. The restaurant’s motto is “Pizza Well Done,” and that does mean well done. It’s all part of educating diners on a cooking technique that is new to them and maybe their taste buds. It’s well worth giving it a chance.
Anthony’s offers different styles of pies, too. There’s the traditional round pizza, which starts with shredded mozzarella and the tomato sauce, a sprinkle of Romano cheese, a few sprigs of fresh basil and olive oil. You can add toppings, including sausage, which is a wonderful fennel version made from a family recipe. Small ones are 12 inches and cost $13.49 before you add extra toppings. The large are 16 inches and $16.99.
Specialty pies include a Philly Cheesesteak, a White Pizza, Meatballs and Ricotta, and Eggplant Marino, named for Anthony’s partner, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino. But I tried the Square Margherita, $16.99 for a small, which I thought was closer to a large. It has fresh mozzarella, moister and less creamy than the shredded mozzarella served on the traditional pie, as well as plum tomatoes. It makes for a pizza that is more about the sauce and basil, and that is delicious as well. I think I’d order it again.
Before you get to the pizza, you must try two appetizers: the chicken wings and the meatballs. You can order as few as five wings ($6.99) to get a taste or as many as 20 ($18.99). They are marinated overnight and then cooked in the coal oven to a perfectly crispy crust with moist, delicious meat inside. Do you see the theme here? More healthy than deep-fried Buffalo wings, they are a stellar treat, topped with caramelized onions for a final burst of flavor.
The meatballs come in a small order with two large ones ($6.49) or a large order with four ($11.49), plus ricotta cheese and two slices of their wonderful focaccia bread that is beautifully seasoned with rosemary. They make the meatballs fresh every day and roast them in the coal oven. They taste like the homemade meatballs of my childhood, which I like very much.
You can order a hot or cold pot (for serving later) of those meatballs in sauce, an order of 13 for $29.95 to go. It comes with the pot, as well as the ricotta cheese and focaccia bread.
The menu includes sandwiches cooked in the coal oven, calzones, broccoli rabe and sausage, and pork ribs with vinegar peppers. They also have fresh salads and cheesecake for dessert.
Anthony’s has a full bar, but they focus on local craft beers, which are very much in demand. On the night of my visit, they had four Rhode Island beers from Grey Sail’s Flying Jenny, Narragansett’s It’s About Time and lager, Revival’s Red Ale and Foolproof’s Backyahd. They also had Green Monsta and Blueberry Ale from Wachusett Brewing in Massachusetts and Peroni, as well as Von Trapp and Sam Adams. Most drafts range in price from $4-$7.
Everything is fresh at Anthony’s. The kitchen is open and nothing is frozen. Company founder Anthony Bruno told me that when he moved to Florida from Brooklyn, he missed the Italian food of home. He embarked on his restaurant biz to bring his family recipes first to Florida and now to 62 restaurants up the East Coast, with Rhode Island the newest entry.
His friend Dan Marino is one of the partners in the business.
There’s a joy to this place that is evident, even in the early days when some staff are getting used to the newness and others have already hit their stride.
The space includes the dining room and a garden room, and there will be al fresco dining in season. The bar is set up in the center and is nice and deep for easy dining with big pizzas.
Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, 220 Hillside Rd., Garden City, Cranston, (401) 943-1601, acfp.com. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.