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Here are 3 new pizza restaurants opening in Fort Lauderdale

Downtown Fort Lauderdale has been something of a pizza desert — especially curious as thousands of pie-eyed new residents have flooded Flagler Village — but that is about to change.

Three distinctive new downtown pizza-serving restaurants are set to open within a half-mile of each other, each with a unique reason to be worth your attention.

They are: Flagler Pizza & Pasta, in the bustling Victoria Park Shoppes; Mister 01 Extraordinary Pizza, opening a block west of Flagler Village hot spot Rhythm & Vine; and Patio Bar & Pizza, in up-and-coming Progresso.

Opening first is Flagler Pizza & Pasta, located at 656 N. Federal Highway, a few doors down from the popular Shuck-N-Dive restaurant in the shopping center that faces Federal Highway and Flagler Village. Housed in the storefront that used to be home to Anthony’s Pronto Kitchen, the lunch-dinner restaurant is set to debut at 11 am Wednesday, June 15.

Flagler Pizza & Pasta is the creation of Pablo Crespo, for 16 years a chef at the revered Casa D’Angelo Ristorante, most of that time in the Boca Raton location, and Juliano Viersa, a longtime friend who also worked off and on at Casa D’Angelo.

The restaurant will have a full menu of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes, along with a dozen pizzas (12-inch for $16-$17; 16-inch for $19-$22), wine and beer, a dessert menu and a kids ‘ menu. The small but attractive dining room has a capacity of about 30, with comfortable table seating inside and on the sidewalk out front.

A native of Ecuador with a degree in mechanical engineering, Crespo is the pragmatic one who had to be nudged into leaving Casa D’Angelo, a well-paying job that he enjoyed, to strike out on his own.

“The food at Angelo’s is really good. They always treated me well. But, for me, it was time to move on,” says Crespo, who has lived in Fort Lauderdale for two decades. “I was a little afraid to step out, but I’m 44 years old, and it was time to try something new.”

Viersa, of Deerfield Beach, is the hustler: His job in swimming pool maintenance took him all over Victoria Park and Flagler Village, so he knew the location was surrounded by families and young singles who might be interested in a neighborhood pizza spot.

The duo did the build-out of the interior themselves and would frequently be interrupted by passers-by asking about the opening date.

“Every day they come, they open the door, they introduce themselves. I think the location is good. I hope they like my food,” Crespo says.

For more information, call 954-368-5443 or email flaglerpizzeria@gmail.com.

This Flagler Village eatery will be the eighth South Florida location in Mister 01′s fast-growing empire, which just added a restaurant in Boca Raton.

The restaurant group got its start on South Beach where Chef Renato Viola’s pizza inspired an extraordinary word-of-mouth following — the name is derived from Viola’s O-1 Visa, granted to individuals who show what the US government sees as “extraordinary ability or achievement.”

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Opening this summer at 415 NE Fourth St., Viola’s Flagler Village location will be a showcase for unique pies made with a special dough blend (using 00 flour), some in the form of a cheesy octagon. Last year, Mister O1 was ranked in Food & Wine magazine’s annual list of “The Best Pizza in Every State.” Visit MisterO1.com.

This 2,500-square-foot restaurant with a distinctively attractive terrace is located in the nearly 100-year-old, wedge-shaped building at 901 Progresso Drive, also home to popular Laser Wolf bar and Sidewalk Bottle Shop.

The menu will put the spotlight on wood-fired, brick-oven pizzas and craft cocktails. The patio being remodeled in front of the 1925 Spanish-style building has a unique view across the Brightline tracks to the energetic MASS District and Flagler Village, with downtown towers as a backdrop.

Owner Brian Parenteau, a South Florida hospitality veteran who helped open Beach House Pompano, DrYnk Bar & Lounge and Tulio’s Tacos and Tequila Bar, anticipates an August opening.

“I love the building,” Parenteau told the Sun Sentinel last year. “It’s a 1925 historic building and has a ton of characteristics that we can kind of play off, keep it vintage, keep it old-feeling.”

For more information, visit PatioBarPizza.com.

Staff writer Ben Crandell can be reached at bcrandell@sunsentinel.com.

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