Though it's not on the main drag — Centre Street — in Fernandina Beach, Arte Pizza is a hip, well-decorated, comfortable spot for lunch on the weekend or dinner anytime (except Tuesdays, because it's closed). As I was walking by, the space itself sold me: open kitchen with a view of the pizza oven, high ceilings, modern lighting, windows that let in a fresh breeze, and an arty, decorative wall adorned with random mirrors and frames.
On the lunch menu, we eyed crispy French fries tossed in rosemary sea salt ($3.50) to start, and I ordered a half-portion of the Special salad ($9.95 full size), with roasted red beets, corn, diced tomato, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, crumbled feta and a white balsamic dressing.
The portion was nice-sized, and the fries were accompanied by a cup of ketchup, though I would have preferred an aioli to complement the rosemary.
My half salad was gigantic. I loved the uniqueness of having beets, roasted peppers, corn and feta. But if this were a creation of mine, I'd add avocado. And the menu says "mixed greens," but it was actually hearts of Romaine, which is fine but slightly misleading.
Eager to try the wood-fired, brick-oven pizza (it cooks at temperatures higher than 700 degrees!), we pondered the selections of Arte's self-proclaimed artisanal pizzas.
We narrowed it down to the Paesana ($10.95), with tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage and pepperoni, and the Caprina ($10.95), with tomato sauce, roasted tomato, mushrooms, fresh basil, goat cheese and extra virgin olive oil. The Caprina should really be renamed the Goat, for the overabundance of goat cheese. It overshadowed everything else. The crust on both pizzas was crisp — and slightly thicker than a typical wood-fired crust — and held up to the load of toppings and sauce, but the sauce's flavor was lacking. Maybe more salt or spices? It was a Sunday, and we arrived at noon, when Arte opened, so maybe it was a fresh batch and needed to simmer longer?
The pizzas are available in 10-inch and 14-inch sizes; we found the 10-inch too heavy for lunch. I'd suggest splitting one if you're starting with anything else. There are also calzones, paninis, salads and souvlaki. At dinner, main dishes are also available, and nothing will set you back more than $13.95.