Pizza festival in Fort Lauderdale highlights big week of comfort-food bashes

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The Mellow Mushroom Bake Bus will be making fresh pies at the inaugural Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival on April 1 at War Memorial Auditorium. (Mellow Mushroom and Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival / Courtesy)

Comfort-food fest alert! Pizza, doughnuts, barbecue and crawfish soon will be celebrated — and consumed in mass quantities — at separate food festivals around South Florida. The most anticipated of the events, unfolding over a four-day span, may be the inaugural Fort Lauderdale Pizza Festival on Saturday, April 1, at War Memorial Auditorium.

The pizza festival, billed by organizer Lais Pontes as “a celebration of all things cheesy,” will run from 1 to 6 p.m. and feature local pizzerias and national chains, along with craft beer, wine, music and an alcohol-free kids zone.

Pontes, a publicist and promoter who grew up in Fort Lauderdale, says she wanted to launch a community event and she figured that pizza, “America’s No. 1 comfort food,” would be a popular draw. She says more than 3,000 tickets have been sold for the event. Tickets cost $30 ($75 VIP, with early access), and are available at Ticketmaster.com. Kids 5 and under are free. War Memorial Auditorium is located at 800 NE Eighth St.

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We filtered through our favorite reviews and stories to bring you the best pizza in South Florida for National Pizza Day.

 

 

The indoor and outdoor party will feature 10 pizzerias, including Mellow Mushroom, Dough Boys, Sarpino’s, Cannoli Kitchen, the Garlic Knot, Pie-Zan’s and MiDiCi, a new Neapolitan pizzeria set to open this week in Flagler Village. Hoffman’s Chocolates will bake chocolate dessert pizzas. There will also be nonpizza offerings from PDQ Chicken and Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Funky Buddha, Concrete Beach, Bangin’ Banjo, Coppertail Brewing and Broski Ciderworks will provide beverages. Rhythm & Vine will sponsor a music stage.

On paper, a pizza festival sounds like a splendid idea. But the logistics will be formidable, because nobody likes long waits or cold, old pies. Pontes says Bakers Pride ovens and pizza warmers are being brought in for the event. Mellow Mushroom will set up outside, using its mobile Bake Bus.

On paper, a pizza festival sounds like a splendid idea. But the logistics will be formidable, because nobody likes long waits or cold, old pies. Pontes says Bakers Pride ovens and pizza warmers are being brought in for the event. Mellow Mushroom will set up outside, using its mobile Bake Bus.

“Being the first year, I’m a little nervous, but that’s OK — it keeps me on my toes,” Pontes says. She says she has received good support from the business community and local officials, with Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler proclaiming April 1 Pizza Day.

Tickets include four pizza samples and eight drink samples. For those who want to eat more pizza, Pontes says vendors will also sell by the slice. “You’ll be able to eat all 10 if you’d like,” Pontes says.

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All things doughnut will be celebrated, and devoured, at Donuts!, a festival held in Wynwood on Thursday March 30. (Phillip Valys / SouthFlorida.com)

Before the dough feast in Fort Lauderdale, there will be a doughnut fest in Wynwood. The streak of food parties begins Thursday, March 30 with Donuts!, at the MAPS Backlot, 342 NW 24th St., in Miami. The 21-and-over event runs from 6 to 10 p.m. and will feature a dozen local doughnut shops, food trucks and beer from Concrete Beach Brewery. Tickets cost $35 ($65 VIP), and are available at Ticketfly.com.

The South Florida Crawfish Festival, also known as CrawDebauchery, will take place April 1-2, at Pompano Beach Amphitheater Field, 1806 NE Sixth St. Besides 5,000 pounds of boiled crawfish, the New Orleans-flavored event will feature food from Popeye’s chicken and Shuck N Dive restaurant of Fort Lauderdale, live music on two stages, a “Gumbo Rumble,” Krewe competitions and Mardi Gras-style parades. It runs from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. Single-day and weekend tickets, including VIP packages, are available online ($25 to $100) and at the gate ($40 to $120). Musical acts include Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band and Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers.

The third annual Grillin N Chillin Wynwood barbecue festival takes place Sunday, April 2 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the old RC Cola plant, 550 NW 24 St., in Miami. It will feature a variety of barbecue styles, from Kansas City to Korean, along with beer, beverages, kids’ activities and music. Tickets cost $15 ($25 for two), available at WynwoodBBQFest.com.

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More than 5,000 pounds of crawfish will be boiled, and Cajun-Creole cuisine will be featured, at the South Florida Crawfish Festival April 1-2 at Pompano Beach Amphitheater. (SouthFlorida.com file)

Other food festivals loom later in spring, before South Florida gets too muggy and buggy. The Dania Beach Arts & Seafood Festival is April 8-9, with Spin Doctors the headlining musical act. A Taco Battle and Craft Beer Fest at Esplanade Park in Fort Lauderdale is set for April 15, and the annual Riverwalk Burger Battle will be held May 20 at Huizenga Plaza in Fort Lauderdale.

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