Personally, I would have never expected to find a pizzeria like Antico’s here in Lakeland, FL. My guess would be that Artisan styled pizza cooked in a wood fired stone oven would be much more commonplace in Little Italy, NYC than it would be in Central Florida. Evidently, I’m a poor guesser!
Much like Champino’s in Northside Lakeland, the owners are always on the premises. This helps establish that true “mom-and-pop” feel and really shows how much pride the owners have in their product. The proud pizza purveyors are quick to remind you that their fare is prepared for you in a stone oven, which is truly what sets this restaurant apart from all of the other pizzerias in Polk county.
Before you get to taste the pizza, you will receive a complimentary bread appetizer that showcases what the oven can do.
This is called “lavash,” which is a traditional Greek bread. This hollow centered, bubble of bread is both crisp and doughy and serves as sneak preview of their delicious pizza crust.
Let’s take a sneak peak at menu!
As you can see, Antico’s is very strong in the variety department. Check out the these drastically different ways you can enjoy your pizza here!
Pictured first is the “Stanley.” It features fennel sausage that is perfect for satisfying that meat lover’s pizza craving. Pictured second is the “Prosciutto E Rucola.” We normally are apprehensive about ordering white pizza because so many white pizzas are bland and dry. This was definitely an exception! It was drizzled in a tasty EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) and was oozing with flavor. What an option!
Speaking of all of your options, Antico’s also features a “small plates” menu and pasta specials in addition to their pizza. There is also a full bar with a decent wine selection. From what we have gathered, the pasta specials normally feature lasagna. Below is an eye-full of their gnocchi “small plate.”
It was an interesting dish, and the other “small plates” and lasagna specials are presumably interesting as well. However, if I had to order only one dish here, I’d go with the pizza. The stone oven is what this place is all about, and inside the oven is where the magic happens!
The wood fired crust, fresh ingredients, and strict adherence to classic Napoleon styling are all things that are typically only recognized and appreciated by pizza connoisseurs, and I’m not sure how many Lakelanders fall into that category. Furthermore, I’m not sure how many pizza enthusiasts would think to look for wood fired goodness hidden in a strip mall buried in the southern most tip of Lakeland.
That being said, it doesn’t take an expert to appreciate yummy pizza, and the word on Antico’s is out! Business is already beginning to boom here, and you won’t be able to call Antico’s one of Lakeland’s “hidden” treasures for much longer!