Newsletter 52 del 02 agosto 2018

Dear {{NOME}},

A few weeks ago I was speaking with a really good chef. One of those chefs who would risk their money to establish their ideas, and their recipes. I was struck by what he said about pizza. He said it’s a limited way of cooking because there’s a minimal contact with fire, a matter of seconds, a couple of minutes, while cooking takes hours of work. He said this respectfully, but to him these two worlds are set apart, nonetheless.

I had never considered the value of cooking based on the time used to make a dish. It would be like judging the value of a sport based on how long it lasts, and the same would apply to books, poetry, music. Pizza has its peculiarities, which belong to its DNA, and it certainly has a significant limitation given by the disk of bread on which the seasoning is placed. Those who can go beyond “bread and tomato” make an important step, they free themselves from an obstacle.

Pizzaioli know “prisons” that their cousins, the cooks, ignore.

Paolo Marchi




Is nature good or bad to living beings? Should you rather pay 2 euros extra for a pizza that respects nature and people, or 2 euros less (saving 4) and keep your eyes shut as to what you’re served? We cannot answer out of instinct and that’s even though if our instinct followed current trends it would lead us to say that nature is absolutely good and that saving 4 euros on each one of the 200 pizzas which we eat in restaurants every year, on average, would leave us with 800 euros to spend on something else. Perhaps on remedies for a bad stomach or on unlikely successful tests of our sensitivity to gluten. 

Let’s put aside pizza, for now, and focus on nature.

According to Italian dictionary Treccani  “natura” has a very complex definition, but for this occasion I’d like to mention nature as “the universe considered in its phenomena, activity, order, like an objective reality which man observes, studies, changes". In the simple words of Dario Bressanini during his speech at PizzaUpin 2015, the “natural” changes of wheat have always been a continuum, because nature is a dynamic concept: it describes the cycle of birth-life-death of every (temporarily) leaving creature. Together, all these transformations make evolution, which is the “movement that follows a goal” (source: Treccani), the movement of the survival of the strongest, following the principle of natural selection, an act of incredible cruelty towards the weak, though necessary so that a “natural” balance of the living species can exist.

This is the “ruthless” side of nature, which human beings have studied since the first civilisation and to which they have opposed technological evolution, as a way to protect their existence. One such example is refining flour: if we didn’t remove micro-toxins before milling the wheat, we’d transfer the highly toxic result of one of the “natural” attacks caused by climate change into our bread and pizza. 

At the same time, some people use natural selection to pick only the best wheat, the one that, on a specific year, has proven to be stronger and more resistant (without synthetic chemicals) to the natural attacks caused by the climate. A technique called “participatory genetic improvement” (prof. Salvatore Ceccarelli): farmers scatter a mix of seeds in the same soil, pick the spikes that survive the natural selection and collect their seeds for the next seeding. This way, in the future, they participae in the natural evolution of varieties without interfering with artificial defences, but leaving climatic natural selection to do its course.

This is Petra Evolutiva, the result of an allegiance between nature, the Sicilian farmers of Simenza and the ancient milling activity of the Quaglia family, transforming a mix of organic, totally natural wheat into flour that has flavours and aromas that change every year. It’s the first flour with an identity that means uniqueness and not equivalence, different each year in terms of aromas and flavours, always the same in terms of how it is processed. It is the artistic result of the meeting of climate selection and the most advanced technologies of clean milling available in Italy. Info:

Piero Gabrieli

Contaminazioni di Pizza by Pizza & Peace

Contaminazioni di Pizza took place on the July 30th and 31st. The event was created by the Tuscan pizzaioli of Pizza & Peace formed by Massimo Giovannini (Apogeo, Pietrasanta), Graziano Monogrammi (La Divina Pizza, Florence), Paolo Pannacci (Lo Spela, Greve in Chianti), Giovanni Santarpia and Beatrice Menichetti.

Born with the goal of spreading the culture of high quality leavened products and promoting pizza and the exchange of ideas and techniques among professionals, this year too this group of pizzaioli decided to create a charity event, to be hosted, once again, at Giovannini’Apogeo.

This year, however, the event doubles. Monday 30th there was an event open to the public. The entire team of Pizza & Peace  worked together with the women of Donne di Pizza Donne di Cuore (we wrote about them here: Donne di pizza- e di cuore - sotto il segno di Petra), eight excellent pizzaiole from all over Italy who share the approach and goals of P&P as well as the expertise, though with a female take. The perfect opportunity for a delicious mixing of styles and inspiration offered by different tastings. Before this, a round table on leavened products with the participation of the event’s technical partners. On this occasion, Piero Gabrieli presented Petra Evolutiva (see the news above) the first way of giving a geographical identity to pizza and at the same time a way of directing local agriculture towards real and clean organic farming (in the sense that there’s no use of chemicals to protect the plants).

Luciana Squadrilli

Rock 1978, pizza and wines in Valle Sabbia

There are two young and determined brothers at the helm of family restaurant- pizzeria Rock1978, in the small village of San Faustino di Bione. We’re close to Brescia, an area that is more popular for its mountain cheese, for freshwater fish, and for nearby Franciacorta, than for its pizza. Patrick and Gianluca Zanoni respectively take care of oven and cellar, while their sisters chose to look after the family ice cream shops. When they took the baton from their dad Giuseppe, who founded the restaurant in 1978 and dedicated it to his father, Giovanni, known in the village as Roc, they decided to focus on pizza and on pairing it with wine. And they decided to do so in the best possible way, with attention and passion. Patrick started to work on dough and on stone-milled flour, perfecting his skills at Molino Quaglia's Università della Pizza, as well as working on toppings, searching for local specialties such as cheese (from bagoss to the creamy cheese from Valle Sabbia), to products from their vegetable garden and other specialties from all around Italy.

They offer different types of pizza, all baked in the wood oven: Gourmet, served in slices to be shared, each seasoned separately; they use dough matured for at least 40 hours starting from poolish plus mother yeast, made with stone-milled flour type 1 and whole-wheat. This ends its leavening in the pan. Then there’s the Napoletana Alta, a personal soft and crispy take, with a large edge, again from a mixed leavening, available both with and without tomato sauce, and with classic and more creative toppings. There’s Classica Bassa, thin and well cooked, with dough that matures for at least 30 hours based on a blend of stone-milled flour type 1 and re-milled semolina, with brewer’s yeast. And finally there’s Bassa Light, in a whole-wheat version with dough enriched with germinated wheat, so as to give more fibres, minerals and vitamins, with a longer maturation. There are also seasonal recipes, such as the summer pizza, seasoned with fried spinach, buffalo milk mozzarella, and anchovies fried with ginger.

Gianluca is the youngest but his ideas are very clear. He chose wine as his field of research. He’s the man behind the very unusual wine list for a pizzeria, which includes 300 wines and ranges from the local area to the rest of Europe. While of course he pays strong attention to Franciacorta bubbles, he has also included many wines from other regions in Italy, plus there are wines now arriving from Mosella, Alsace, Burgundy, Bordeaux and some prestigious Champagne as well as Spanish vintage sherry. Gianlucatasted and selected each one of these wines, so that he can present them to the guests at Rock1978and find the best pairings with Patrick’s pizzas. (LS)

Pizzeria Rock 1978
Via Ponti 1, San Faustino di Bione (Bs)
Tel. +39 0365 896612

Tomei and the pizza tastes like pizza

«My pizza tastes like pizza». Cristiano Tomei take it or leave it: he’s cocky, loves to present himself as a cook who goes against the tide, and is a bit of a pirate. The kind of person who doesn’t follow fashion, that’s why «I don’t make gourmet pizza» is another thing he says to explain his approach at Satura, the "hub & lab" multidisciplinary gastronomic place in Lucca where he gives vent to free experiments in a constant dialogue with the "territory + innovation" fine dining offered at L'Imbuto.

«My pizza tastes like pizza» is indeed true, because what’s important to Tomei is flavours. But don’t think this seeming simplicity lacks in technique or elegance, Romito docet. Take Margherita. Actually, "Margherita di Satura". They chargrill the tomatoes, hence the smoky notes, then add fiordilatte and artemisia: 6 euros, «and it’s a blast, a marvellous tasting» thanks also to a collaboration that started on June 24th with Luciano Passeri, a great pizzaiolo from Abruzzo who runs two restaurants in Pescara and Chieti, Foconè Pizzeria Osteria Contemporanea and Foconè Asporto.

«Luciano is fantastic. He sent me one of his guys, Saverio Massari. And we’re having great fun experimenting incredible things. A few days ago we decided to make a test: we ate two pizzas each at 3 in the morning and then went to sleep immediately». They slept like a log, «the dough is very easy to digest», the result of at least 24 hours of leavening, a mix of different types of flour («Including one made with Venere rice, and many local wheat varieties, or from Abruzzo»), mother yeast and brewer’s yeast. Round pizza with a large edge, never ever gummy, «the slices have a good texture, they’re crispy on the outside, soft inside. Lovely, light, aromatic». As for the toppings, Tomei indulges his whims: «I make a classic sauce, with tomato, celery, onions and carrots, the kind our grannies make. Then add some grated Parmigiano, basil and nepitella». Or «I buy little tunny, and marinate it with salt and sugar, then I cook the onions under the embers and make pizza Tonno e cipolle» both traditional and modern.

In the menu, a small selection of classic pizzas (in the style of Tomei) and then others that are based on his whim and what’s available from the market. The price: between 6 euros and 12-13 for special recipes. The recommended pairing is with wine, says the chef, « that’s what I prefer, but everyone’s free to do as they like».

Carlo Passera

Pizza & chef: Fabio Ciervo at Eden

It comes as no news that starred chefs are also working with pizza. However, more and more often this emblem of popular cuisine is entering luxury hotels, thus certifying the final consecration of pizza (also) as a gourmet food. This doesn’t mean that these pizzas are too elaborated or creative, given they’re mostly designed with foreign clients in mind: they want a good pizza, the emblem of Italian and Mediterranean food, in a 5 star setting. 

The perfect example is given by Fabio Ciervo, executive chef at Hotel Eden in Rome, the elegant hotel of the Dorchester Collection off Via Veneto. Originally from Sant’Agata dei Goti, a nice village in Benevento’s Sannio region, he used to be a sportsman, and holds a master in Nutrition, which he completed while the hotel was closed for the significant renovations that made it even more refined and modern, without losing its charm. Ciervo decided to introduce pizza in the menu at Il Giardino, the hotel’s “informal” restaurant on the same floor (and with the same view) of starred restaurant La Terrazza.

Here the chef presents a Mediterranean cuisine based on simple and healthy recipes, with great raw materials and homemade processing. So of course there had to be pizza. In this case Ciervo – who started working in a pizzeria in Volterra during the summer, while he was at catering school – applied the same meticulous research on products and techniques he uses with all his dishes, with attention to flavours and nutrients. So on top of creating a special area in the kitchen for counter and oven (an electric one with a rotating dish, to guarantee a perfect baking), he studied flour, dough and toppings so as to make tasty and easy to digest pizzas.

On top of a long maturation and leavening (at least 48 hours), he uses non-refined Petra flour, with a specific blend that includes spelt and soy, for a greater concentration of fibres that can keep the glycaemic index low, while having a special texture and a round and “rustic” flavour.

As for the seasonings, which change seasonally, the chef chooses the ingredients with the same care used for La Terrazza: organic fiordilatte and fiaschetto tomato purée from Apulia, ‘nduja from Calabria, an extraordinary tuna preserved in oil and a selection of different extra virgin olive oils from all around Italy, to be paired with the flavours of each pizza. There are only few pizzas in the menu, but they are truly delicious. They’re served in a “traditional” way (not sliced) and you can relax and enjoy them and the view of Rome’s rooftops. The recipes, divided into pizzas with or without tomato sauce, include Marinara and Margherita as well as Il Giardino with fiordilatte, cherry tomatoes, rocket, prosciutto and shaved Parmigiano, and the one with date tomatoes, buffalo milk mozzarella, tuna belly and basil.

Il Giardino dell'Hotel Eden
Via Ludovisi 49, Rome
tel. +39 06 47812761


Accursio Craparo’s extraordinary sfincione

Accursio Craparo‘s Sfincione (photo by Tanio Liotta)

I’ve never liked sfincione perhaps because I had never come across a proper one. This was until a few days ago: a sunny morning in Modica, an extraordinary dinner the previous night, at Accursio Craparo’s Accursio. We decided to have a quick brunch at Radici, the street food place from the same chef originally from Sciacca, right in front of the gourmet restaurant. Short menu: scaccia modicana with aubergines, two arancini, a classic first course and a gourmet one, very delicious, with red prawns. And then sfincione: classic seasoning with tomato, onion, oregano and anchovies. The dough rises slowly, then it’s cooked so it’s crispy underneath, with the right thickness, soft and very light. The combination is absolutely delicious: a not-to-be-missed discovery.


Pizza dell'estate: Bosco, Salvo and Vola win

Eight pizzaioli: left to right Renato BoscoStefano VolaMatteo AloeBernardo GarofaloMarzia BuzzancaGennaro BattiloroCiro Salvo and Corrado Scaglione

It’s not like the heat will stop one from craving pizza. Indeed, pizza is the perfect food for the summer, perhaps eating it on the beach or by a pool, or in a nice restaurant with air conditioning. It was to celebrate pizza as the queen of the summer, that GazzaGolosa (the food column on Gazzetta dello Sport founded and directed by Daniele Miccione and Pier Bergonzi) organised the Pizza dell’estate contest in collaboration with Joyful, a new line of Italian bubbles created to be paired with pizza.

At Bagno Peppino 245 in Milano Marittima – what a better location than a beach resort? – eight among the best pizzaioli in Italy competed with their pizzas, assessed by a jury of journalists and professionals. On top of Miccione, there was also Giorgia Cannarella (GazzaGolosa, Identità Golose and Munchies), Lydia Capasso (GazzaGolosa and Corriere della Sera), Andrea Grignaffini (Guida ai ristoranti dell'Espresso and teacher at Alma), Tania Mauri (Guida alle pizzerie dell'Espresso andGazzaGolosa), Niccolò Vecchia (Identità Golose), sommelier Luca Gardini, 2010 world champion, ice cream maker Simone De Feo (Capolinea from Reggio Emilia) and chef Simone Di Gennaro (Casa di Mare in Forlì). They did a strictly blind tasting of the pizzas from the competing pizzaioli: Matteo Aloe of Berberè (eight locations in Italy: Bologna, Milano, Rome...), Gennaro Battiloro of Battil’Oro in Versilia, Renato Bosco of Saporé in Veneto, Marzia Buzzanca of Percorsi di Gusto in L’Aquila, Bernardo Garofalo of pizzeria Montecarlo in Siracusa, Ciro Salvo of 50 Kalò in NaplesCorrado Scaglione of Enosteria Lipen in Brianza and Stefano Vola of Vola in Piedmont.

They competed in two categories: the classic Margherita and a regional pizza that would represent their area. The winner of the first place for his Margherita was young Stefano Vola from the Langhe. The best “territorial” pizza was the one by Ciro Salvo, the delicious Aprilatica with cream of broccoli, sausage from nero casertano pigs, buffalo milk mozzarella and cacioricotta from Cilento. Renato Bosco was however the absolute winner, conquering the jury with his very light Margherita and a fragrant crunch with Venere rice flour filled with grisa hen from Lessinia cooked in saor, chards and burrata. He won 1000 bottles of Joyfull, to match his pizzas.