BY HEATHER HANNAFORD
On a warm evening at Celebration Pointe, kids play in the grass, adults sit at the little orange folding tables that are part of the cheerful and distinct décor of the area, and we arrive to sample MidiCi: The Neapolitan Pizza Company and learn a little bit about how to make their delicious Neapolitan style cuisine. We are greeted by Charity, the general manager, who shows us around the restaurant and introduces us to the chef, Kyle, and the bartender, David, who will be our culinary guides for the evening.
MidiCi was the first restaurant to open at Celebration Pointe in 2018 and has been serving satisfied customers since then. MidiCi’s pizza is Neapolitan style, which encompasses the unique blend of dough they use and their authentic Italian wood fire ovens. Both ovens were brought over from Italy, and each one weighs over 5,000 pounds. The oven maker is Mario Acunto, whose family is one of the oldest builders of wood fired pizza ovens in the world. The ovens are wood only; no gas is used. MidiCi is one of the very few restaurants that use only wood to cook their pizzas. Stacked wood can be seen sitting near both of the ovens, and our chef, Kyle, demonstrated how different areas of the oven are used. The far back is the hottest, not usually used when cooking with olive oil, as it can easily burn the dough. The middle is the most common spot for cooking, as it even cooks the dough. The front is used to cool and rest the dough as it comes out of the ovens. The ovens reach 900 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
After explaining how the ovens work, Kyle guided us through preparing and cooking one of his own delicious creations: The Hot and Honey Pizza. Kyle has been a pizza chef for over five years and has worked at MidiCi for four.
He told us how he loves to make pizza and explained the training he has undergone to perfect his skills. As he led us to the pizza counter, he remarked that MidiCi uses only the freshest ingredients, including their own homemade dough. Kyle explains that the dough used is an important part of the process. Although a simple combination of flour, water, salt, and yeast, pizza dough must be made to ensure the correct rise of the crust and must take into account weather conditions as well as ingredients.
The first step is preparing the dough for shaping.
Kyle used Semolina Flour to cover the dough and to keep it from sticking to the wood pizza peel. MidiCi also offers gluten-free options for their dough.
Next, the pizza is shaped. The pizza dough must be tossed and flattened to eliminate air bubbles in the bottom of the crust.
It took Kyle three years to learn to toss the dough! It looks fun but is very difficult!
Next the toppings! MidiCi only uses fresh ingredients!
For Hot and Honey pizza, the first ingredient is olive oil drizzled over the dough.
Next up, add garlic and oregano.
To get the flavorful spicy taste, add Calabrian Chili peppers, jalapenos, and red onions. Kyle notes that it is best to ensure that the ingredients are spread equally.
Next up is fresh mozzarella. MidiCi cuts their mozzarella every morning so it is fresh and ready for the day.
The final ingredient adds just the right touch of sweetness: honey drizzled on the top!
Now the pizza is put in the wood fire oven, in the middle spot reserved for even cooking.
Halfway through, the pizza needs to be turned to ensure even browning on the crust.
And it is served–fresh, hot, and so delicious.
The flavors of the chili and honey blend together to create a spicy and sweet combination that is absolutely amazing. The slight piquant tang of the chili and jalapeno is offset perfectly by the smooth sweetness of the honey. Kyle’s creation is a perfect summer meal–spicy, light, and delicious.
Next up, MidiCi’s Bar Manager, David, introduced us to his signature drink: The Sunburn. A fresh take on a gin fizz that is perfect for hot summer days in Florida.
David uses fresh and local ingredients to concoct his delicious drinks. The Gin is locally sourced and provides the base ingredient for this drink.
The recipe begins with 1.5 oz of Gin, .5 oz of lemon juice, .5 oz of rosemary simple syrup, and 3 oz of Ruby Red Grapefruit juice.
These ingredients are poured into the shaker and mixed together.
Next, the drink is poured over ice.
And topped with soda water. MidiCi uses Topo Chico to get the perfect flavor.
David squeezes a bit of fresh grapefruit over the top.
And garnishes it with a slice of grapefruit and fresh rosemary.
This is a perfect summer drink. It is refreshing and delicious! The grapefruit balances the gin perfectly to create a pleasantly fresh and slightly fruity flavor. I loved the taste and highly recommend it even if you are nervous to try gin drinks. This one is a perfect primer for the gin novice and an exceptional drink for the seasoned gin connoisseur. It tasted like Florida in a glass!
Our chef and bartender treated us to a lovely evening that ensured our future return visits to sample more of their craft cocktails and homemade Neapolitan pizzas. With fresh and local ingredients used for both food and drinks, MidiCi is a hidden gem in Celebration Pointe. The seating is ample, and the bar also has seating if you want to grab a quick drink while visiting the area.
If you wish to recreate our evening, MidiCi will soon begin offering classes on pizza preparation. For a fixed price, you will be introduced to the process of making a Neapolitan pizza and have the chance to experience their mouth-watering offerings for yourself. They expect the next set of classes will begin at the end of June. Keep track of MidiCi events by following their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MidiCiCelebrationPointe/