September 25, 2019

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press
Larry Calvano celebrates opening Enrico's Pizza at mile marker 88.8 in Islamorada. The owner-operator of Enrico's at Jimmy Johnson's Big Chill in Key Largo, Calvano envisions the new Plantation Key pizzeria as 'a nice little place that gives us a chance to mingle with our locals and the visitors.

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press Larry Calvano celebrates opening Enrico's Pizza at mile marker 88.8 in Islamorada. The owner-operator of Enrico's at Jimmy Johnson's Big Chill in Key Largo, Calvano envisions the new Plantation Key pizzeria as 'a nice little place that gives us a chance to mingle with our locals and the visitors.

ISLAMORADA — More than 40 years of history comes with the opening of Enrico’s New York Style Pizzeria on Plantation Key, owner Larry Calvano says.

“This is more like our family business. This is our history,” said Calvano, also owner and operator of Enrico’s at Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill in Key Largo.

“This is my passion. I’m a pizza fanatic,” he said. “Nobody but nobody puts more love into the food than we do. We want to be seen as the Keys’ best pizza, and I’m a bull-headed Italian who refuses to lose.”

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press
Larry Calvano says the newly opened Enrico’s New York Style Pizzeria in Islamorada will become a locals’ favorite because ‘I have the best staff in the Keys, bar none.

Calvano grew up in the pizzeria business, starting with the Mount Vernon, N.Y., restaurant opened by his parents, Enrico and Laura.

“They taught me how to make a pizza at age 5. I was still a kid but people thought it was cute,” Calvano recounted. “And as a child, I was not shy. I was spinning pizza pans on my fingers. We usually had a line around the block.”

The family then headed for warmer climates in Fort Lauderdale, where they ran a popular pizzeria for 33 years.

After helping to develop the Big Chill, Calvano said, “Now, I consider myself a true local. I hate to go north of Jewfish Creek Bridge.”

Family photographs line the wall of the new Enrico’s in Islamorada, sharing space with movie posters of Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone.

“The Big Chill is one kind of thing; this is another,” Calvano said. “It’s a nice little place that gives us a chance to mingle with our locals and the visitors.

“The reception we’ve gotten has been fantastic, and we’ve met a lot of wonderful people. People say this is the best pizza they’ve ever eaten. I hear that at least once or twice a day. But it never gets old.”

Fresh dough made daily and fresh ingredients “make a major difference,” Calvano said. “It shows in the flavor.”

Enrico’s serves individual to large pizzas from $7.95 to $14.95, with single slices available until 4 p.m. Additional toppings include pepperoni, sliced meatballs, ham, banana peppers, fresh garlic and “gourmet style” mushrooms, onions and sweet peppers.

Calvano favors a version of “The Boss” specialty pizza ($23.95 for a large) with pepperoni, sausage and meatballs, along with onions, mushrooms and extra cheese.

“The Italian Fisherman” pizza comes loaded with lobster and crab meat, clams and a shrimp ($34.95 for a large).

For appetizers, consider Enrico’s homemade garlic rolls; homemade mozzarella with marinara, basil and parmesan cheese; or the “white truffle parmesan” french fries.

Hot sandwiches range from steak and cheese with onions to “my mother’s favorite,” the eggplant parmesan.

For cold sandwiches, the Bada Bing (ham and salami) or the Bada Boom (turkey, ham and bacon) come with pasta salad.

“And it’s not just about pizza and sandwiches. Our entrees will blow you away. The linguini and clams, fugetaboutit!” Calvano said of the $17.95 classic dish.

The Sunday Feast ($16.95) delivers hand-rolled meatballs made with his mother’s recipe of sirloin, veal and pork with imported rigatoni and an Italian sausage red sauce.

Seafood entrees are available. A kids’ menu starts at $5.95.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Delivery service is planned in the near future. For more information, call 305-852-2200.

kwadlow@keysnews.com