Inventive pizzas and more at Sicilian Oven’s new West Delray Beach location

Small classic cheese pizza.

Wood-fired pizzas with creative toppings, charred chicken wings and a host of Italian dishes on the menu of this full-service regional restaurant chain.


I had read many good things about Sicilian Oven on social media, but had never visited one until the recent opening of the regional chain’s newest outpost in West Delray Beach.

The restaurant, located near the rear of a new strip center, Plaza Delray, on the south side of Atlantic Avenue, about 200 feet east of  Lyons Road, is easy to miss. Look for the signage for Joseph’s Classic Market as you travel east on Atlantic, turn into the driveway, and then head past Dunkin Donuts. Sicilian Oven, its sign partly hidden by a tall palm, is on the left.

This small, regional chain which opened its first unit in Lighthouse Point in 2008, is owned by Andrew Garavuso, who grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, where his family owned a pizzeria, and Ralph DiSalvo, whose family operated a chain of Italian restaurants in South Florida.

After moving to Florida, Garavuso spent 15 years working for DiSalvo’s, where he met his future business partner. He went on to become an operating manager at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza and then was asked by DiSalvo to join him in opening a new restaurant in a storefront that formerly housed an outlet of his family’s chain on Federal Highway in Lighthouse Point. The two, the story goes, decided to fuse the brick oven pizza concept with that of a full-service Italian restaurant, similar, but different, from Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, which also got its start in South Florida.

Sicilian Oven is in Shop Delray in W. Atlantic Avenue at Lyons Road.

Sicilian Oven’s West Delray Beach dining room and open kitchen.

Sicilian Oven’s West Delray Beach location, with its black industrial ceiling, open ductwork and fire engine red and brown brick walls, is spacious and anchored by an oval 30-seat bar, where 40-inch flat screen Tvs cover almost every inch. There’s also an open kitchen, but you can’t see much going on. There are tables inside and out, as well as high tops close to the bar. From a rear alcove leading to the restrooms, a gray suited gentleman stares eerily unflinching at the scene. Then you realize it’s a life-size cardboard cutout.

Service was friendly, once someone realized you’re seated, as happened during my first visit.  I sat for a good 10 minutes as servers buzzed around me in a half-empty dining room, as if I was invisible. Finally, a bartender, Kenneth, was directed to my spot.  He proceeded to tell me that Sicilian Salad is their bestseller, accounting for a substantial portion of the chain’s revenues, and about the day-long happy hour. Sorry, no salad for me. I came for the pizza and the wood-fired wings. My eyes went to the lunch menu, at the bottom of the main menu, with savings on many of the offerings.

And so I ordered both the wings and the classic cheese pizza.

Large Queen of Sicily Pizza.

The wings ($14 at lunch for a small serving) were juicy and savory, not spicy, from a long time marinating in garlic, olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper, and charred from their stay in the wood-fired oven. Limp, sweet, caramelized onions blanketed the wings, flanked in a stainless-steel bowl by slices of the eatery’s Tuscan bread.

Soon, my classic cheese pizza ($10 at lunch) arrived hot from the wood oven. The top of my 10-inch pie looked oily and needed blotting and would have benefits from more of the delicious red sauce. The edges of the wood-fired pizza crust, the bottom scarred by black char marks, reminded me of a crunchy Stella D’Oro breadstick.

Wood-fired chicken wings.

Fist-sized rice ball with Bolognese dipping sauce.

Other pizzas on the menu are more creative, though not necessarily what you might have ordered in a pizzeria in Garavuso’s Brooklyn. On a return visit with family members, we shared – among other things – a large Queen of Sicily pie ($22), which was topped with fresh mozzarella, raw tomato slices, fresh basil, tender bite-size pieces of fried eggplant and a fruity balsamic glaze. We were offered a choice of crust – traditional. whole grain or nona (square). We  went traditional. The toppings were quite delicious, but again the edge of the crust reminded me of a cracker.

Our server on this visit, was a highly exuberant young fellow who punctuated order taking more often than I could count with “awesome,” “that’s alright,” and “no problem.”  A bit confused during the meal service, he asked for our dessert orders just after our appetizers were cleared away.

We started this Sunday evening meal with a Tuscan loaf ($4), essentially focaccia topped with shavings of Parmesan and Romano cheese. It was enlivened by the roasted garlic olive oil on the side.

Escarole bean soup.

Tuscan loaf.

I slurped on a large bowl of escarole bean soup ($9) – a classic Italian dish of chicken broth, olive oil, garlic, fresh escarole, white cannellini beans and diced prosciutto – that had been recommended by a neighbor. My serving, though, barely resembled the photo on the menu, which showed bright green leaves; the escarole in my soup mostly resembled limp iceberg lettuce. The largely creamy, albeit a tad salty, broth was muted by an over abundance of the mushy, nutty flavored white beans that filled the bowl.

A rice ball, or aracino ($5), a staple of Sicilian cuisine, was a house-made, fist-sized golden globe of risotto, coated in crispy, oil-free panko breading, stuffed with fresh mozzarella, peas, and Bolognese. It came with a side of thick Bolognese dipping sauce, which was needed since the rice beneath the crust seemed less than creamy.

Booze appears to be an important component of the Sicilian Oven concept.  Happy hour runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Friday.  Thus, it was no surprise to see a trio of women at the bar at lunchtime sipping martinis. For me, that meant a glass of fruity Chianti with my recent lunch for just $5. On Wednesdays, all wines by the bottle are half price.

Sicilian Oven is a step up from neighborhood pizza joints. It offers unique spins on pizza, has a host of other Italian offerings, and a full bar. Over the years it has built up a network of fans for its wood-fired pizzas, but it’s not the place for pizza traditionalists, and after being open just a month there are a few glitches in the Delray location that are in need of fixing. Despite my concerns, I may return, to try that Sicilian salad, if nothing else.

Sicilian Oven

8858 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, FL

(561) 639-0099




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  1. Art says:

    We tried the Sicilian Oven recently, albeit through Delivery Dudes. We ordered pizza, the escarole soup, and the Sicilian salad. Honestly we were not impressed. I’d say the salad was probably the best but overall we would not order again. Did not like the pizza at all.

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