As a chef and as a father, I am very upset by what’s on the menu at most schools: chicken nuggets and tater tots and ketchup and pizza.
He’s not talking about the pizza in this book. The spongy sweet mess served in American schools and by American fast food purveyors is disgusting and not worth eating.
And it’s so sad that we do eat it, because making good pizza at home is pretty easy. But making great pizza, a master’s pizza deemed worthy of protection by the European Union, takes expertise developed over time and some inside information.
In this book the authors, who are executive chefs with Rossopomodoro (perhaps a chain worth eating at), take a road trip, via vespa of course, around Naples to 11 pizza parlors where they learn the secrets, hear the stories, and gather the recipes.
They start with the dough and recommend using Tipo 00 Italian flour (if you can find it) and fresh yeast. And they provide a recipe that makes enough for 6 pizzas. But most importantly, they let the “pizzaioli” speak. Domenico de Luca says the dough should be thin, fine ‘e pasta. Raimondo Cinque says to use room temperature water for a good dough. Gennaro Luciano says “Get a wooden bowl because dough left to rest in wood will be less moist and will yield a more fragrant pizza.”
Like all simple things, pizza requires attention. The pizzaioli call it heart and passion–taking the time to let the dough for eight or even 24 hours, seeking out the best ingredients, and learning how to spread it into a pie that is just right.
The recipes include classic combinations that focus on just the right cheese and tomatoes as well as creative interpretations like Teresa Iorio’s pear, guanciale, walnut and gorgonzola pizza. But if you can’t get an oxheart tomato from Sorrento, Fiordilatte cheese from Campania, Papacella pepper from Bresciano or Torzella–an “ancient broccoli–get the best tomatoes you can find from your garden or farm market, hunt up some Italian tuna or anchovies, and the freshest, whole-milk mozzarella you can find. Develop your own passion and skill (and dough) suited to your oven and your ingredients.
And lose the pizza delivery number.