You’ve probably driven past Lucarella’s in Oakland Park. Maybe you’ve stopped at the half-dozen thrift stores littering Dixie Highway, just north of Oakland Park Blvd. Maybe you’ve seen the farmers market a few yards away on Tuesdays. At any rate, you’ve probably noticed the big, block red letters, but have avoided going in. Make it a point to go in as soon as possible.

Don’t let the small, high windows deter you; the (made in Italy) owners – who took over the restaurant last July – make nearly everything on the menu fresh. And sometimes they make things off the menu, too.

The lasagna is a huge favorite, so is the Belly Buster pizza pie: sausage, meatballs, mushrooms, green peppers and onions ($18.95). But the true test of a delightful pizza is the Margherita pizza: basil grown fresh behind the restaurant, house-made sauce, and fresh mozzarella that is torn – not sliced – onto the handmade dough before being baked ($15.95).

You may not recognize how good it is at first, you may not be used to what a real pizza is suppose to taste like. It will be light, crisp, amazing. You’ll eventually forget the heavy, bloated pizza you’re used to. And it’ll be better that way.

The same goes for the Stromboli ($5.90): it’s wrapped more like a long pretzel than calzone’s little sister. And the pastas – just like the pizza dough – are also made fresh in-house. Ask about the tortellini when you go, since it’s not made as often. But the pastas are just as light as the pizzas.

Even if you don’t want pizza or pasta or salad, Lucarella’s serves homemade soups daily, including Italian wedding and pasta e fagioli (32 oz for $5.75). The soups go quick, so don’t miss them on your next trip. The same goes for the fresh-baked bread, especially on Sundays.

If you can’t stop by in person, Lucarella’s delivers and even has an additional catering menu that features everything from chicken cacciatore to eggplant parmigiana. You can even order your next meal online.

Save room for the desserts, no matter which one you choose. There’s a couple dozen freshly baked goods to choose from behind the glass, but the treat is the ricotta cheesecake ($3.50 per slice), topped with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce. If you must eat anything, make sure it is the ricotta cheesecake. If cheesecake isn’t your thing, grab the homemade cannoli or tiramisu. You shouldn’t need convincing, but you will never be disappointed in the dessert.

While Lucarella’s has been an Oakland Park staple for decades, the new owners are giving the locals a delicious taste of authentic Italian cuisine. Don’t miss it.

If you go:
4165 N. Dixie Hwy
Oakland Park, FL 33334
Hours: M-Th: 10 a.m.-8 pm; Fri-Sat: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Closed Sunday