by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie
For my next tasting experience, I head over to Vero’s newest, and the only wood-fired pizza place that I’m aware of in town called Station 49. Located in what was once known as Garage Pizza, Station 49 has only been open for a few months. I’ve been hearing wonderful things from our foodie group about it, so I could not wait to check them out for myself.
Located in the 1800 block of Old Dixie Hwy, they are not that far off the beaten path of downtown shops and restaurants. Owners, Jay and Joan McLaughlin have been dreaming about owning a pizza place of their own for a while now. When Jay’s longtime Executive Chef Dino from Island Restaurant in New York was looking to move to a beach town in Florida, they jumped at the opportunity to try this new concept with him. If the McLaughlin name sounds familiar, they also own a clothing store and Citron Bistro located a short distance north of Vero on A1A. Parking was better than expected for a small place like this and the lot was not too full even though the restaurant was. From what I remember about Garage Pizza, the interior has been greatly improved and is contemporary, yet with a few modern touches. The space was very comfortable and they have a few different seating options depending on your preferences. Sitting at the bar is always an excellent choice if you like to watch an active kitchen and see your food being made in front of your eyes.
Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat!
Arancini – ($9.00) – While they might have a strange name, and even if you cannot pronounce them, just point to it on the menu and order them, because they are delicious! They start with a cube of mozzarella cheese in the middle, then wrap it with risotto rice, then it’s coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried till golden brown. San Marzano tomato dipping sauce was served alongside. They are a little larger than a golf ball and have this wonderful crunchy and cheesy flavor. The dipping sauce was light, flavorful, and a little bit sweet.
Chopped Kale – ($12.00) – Kale is not usually a favorite for most people (including me), but what Chef Dino does with this one might be just short of a miracle. The kale is chopped finely and tossed with strawberries, avocado, toasted almonds, quinoa, shaved pecorino cheese, and dressed with a citrus-poppy vinaigrette dressing. Kale can tend to be bitter, but I did not detect any bitterness in this salad at all. It was light, fresh and quite delicious.
Cavatelli Sausage + Broccoli – ($16.00) – Such simple ingredients, yet they work so well together. Cavatelli pasta was mixed with chunks of sausage, broccoli, then tossed in a garlic white wine sauce. The pasta was cooked al dente, the sausage was bold and flavorful, and the white wine sauce had the perfect balance of flavor to bring this dish together. Most of my regular readers know I’m not a fan of broccoli, but it only added a subtle flavor and texture to the dish, so I was able to still enjoy it even though I’m not a fan.
The Works – ($16.00) – FINALLY, a pizza place in Vero that uses crumbled sausage! As someone who has lived in the mid-west for most of my life, I’ve never seen so much “sliced” sausage on a pizza until I moved south. It’s very hard to find a place that uses crumbled sausage, so I was thrilled to see they do. Hand-tossed to approximately 11”, their pizza has a very thin crust which allows it to cook within minutes. This one has crispy pepperoni, sweet sausage, Grande mozzarella cheese, and San Marzano tomato sauce. The crust was light and crispy, the sausage was wonderful, and it had just the right amount of smoke flavor from the wood-fired oven. I can’t wait to go back and have another one!
Donut Holes – ($6.00) – We wrap up our tasting experience with a little bit of dessert. After the fantastic food we were just served, these were a bit of a letdown for me. Appearance wise they looked to be over-fried but inside the cake was light and fluffy. They were served with chocolate and caramel sauces but the dusting of powdered sugar was the perfect amount of sweetness for me. They were good, don’t get me wrong, they just lacked the wow factor I’m always looking for, especially after what we already tasted.
Did I forget to mention that they use “crumbled” sausage on their pizza’s? Ok, so I said it already, but I think it deserves another mention because it’s so hard to find in Vero. Their wood-fired pizza oven is 16 years old and imparts a wonderful, yet only slightly smoky flavor to the crust from the oak and mesquite wood they use to cook with. I especially love the healthy twists on a few of the dishes they are offering. Getting me to eat kale and broccoli in the same meal was a feat in it of itself. So, do I think this new place will stick around longer than the last one that occupied this space? Absolutely, and I highly recommend you stop by and check them out sometime, I know you won’t be disappointed!
Have you tried Station 49? What has your experience been with them? Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at email@example.com with your questions or comments.
Address: 1802 Old Dixie Hwy, Vero Beach, FL 32960
Open Sunday – Thursday, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday’s, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm