I consider myself a connoisseur of pizza. That doesn’t mean I’m a pizza snob, though my North Jersey roots sometimes dictate otherwise. It basically means I want to know and taste all things pizza.
I’ve learned in my latest studies just how many pizza cultures there are around the world. And while I believe I’ve tried most versions, I hadn’t considered Cuban pizza—until my visit to Cuban Sylvain Bakery. The tiny storefront, near a tire shop on East Tropicana, is so tucked away, first-time visitors should receive prizes for finding it.
Though the pizza was the main draw, I’m also a big fan of the spaghetti. Served in Styrofoam bowls, it comes with your choice of ham, shrimp, chorizo or cheese as a topping. The cheese version ($5.50) is buttery, and the spiced-up tomato sauce and cheese will warm you and this dish right up.
The pizzas come in two sizes—individual and large—and range in price from $5 to $14. They’re baked in tin pans with higher than normal edges, which gives the crust volume and crunch. The edges are lubricated with butter or oil so that the crispy, cheesy crust feels like a secondary component. This style, native to Detroit in the U.S., is currently making waves as the Motor City experiences something of a pizza renaissance. The cheese, cooked to the edge of burning in a good way, matches well with the sauce, somewhere between a traditional tomato sauce and a sofrito, an olive oil- and veggie-based sauce found in Spanish cultures throughout the world.
Sylvain might be tough to find, but its soulful food is easy to remember.
Cuban Sylvain Bakery 2510 E. Tropicana Ave., 702-433-3230. Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.