Here is an interview I did recently with Nick Schneider, owner of La Strada, Pizza in Matunuck Rhode Island.
The pizza was excellent. A thin crust with lots of taste. We were all impressed. I had to ask him
what were his secrets. How did he learn to make pizza?
Nick gave me more than I asked for. He was honest and forthcoming…
and don’t even call him a pizzaiolo…he’s a pizza guy!
Albert: Nick, tell me how you got into the pizza business?
Nick: I got into the pizza business through my father Paul.
He’s been making pizza for over 50 years now. He opened his first place in his late teens
in Provincetown, Massachusetts called Spiritus Pizza, which is still there.
Paul, my father and John Yingling, (Jingles) opened Spiritus together. So it’s been around a long time,
then he opened a bunch of other places. He is one of the original East Coast, New York Pizza Guys.
I’m not saying that because he is my father but Paul Schneider is one of the original old school guys
and a lot of people have learned from him and used his recipe and are kind of pushing on.
He’s still around and that’s
where I got all of my pizza stuff from.
He’s an artist and sculptor and a cook and a really interesting guy. That’s where my pizza
comes from and where my esthetic comes from.
Albert: Is he still making pizza?
Nick: Oh yeah, he’s go a great place in a very unassuming spot,
in Ellsworth, Maine called, Finelli’s Pizza.
People are walking in there all the time with their chest out, saying I’m from New York, I’m from New Haven
and we know pizza. We’ve heard all about this place. And once they have the pizza, they become believers.
And he’s still there in Ellsworth, Maine and he’s still doing it. He makes the best pizza I’ve ever had! Ever!
Way better than mine.
Yeah, the best.
Albert: So you learned to make pizza side by side with your Dad.
He took you by the hand and showed you how to make pizza.
Albert: Do you make your dough the day before?
Nick: I make my dough a couple of days before. I at least make it a day before, I like to make it a couple of days
before…Depends on how busy we are.
Albert: So you use a cold ferment method, as opposed to a warm ferment?
Nick: Both actually. I use a warm (proof) ferment, then a cold ferment and then a warm ferment.
Albert: So you think that is the secret to great pizza?
Nick: It’s not a secret anymore, cause you just screwed it up for for me. It was a secret!
You know when you came in here you asked me if I was a pizzaiolo, and I said no, I’m the pizza guy.
My dad’s a pizza guy, he’s not a pizzaiolo either. That stuff I think a lot
of this stuff and secrets that is out on the Internet now,like the DOC stuff is coming from these certifications.
There is a school that says you have to use this flour, you have to use this method, you have to use this water.
You have to do this and you have to do that.
I don’t think that is the case. I’m not a Prima Dona I don’t know anything about anything.
You just got to do what you
do and love it and that’s it.
And the most important thing I believe is the way the dough is handled.
My father calls this dough management.
The way the dough is handled, when it comes out, how long it is sitting around for before
it goes into the oven.
And of course the temperature of
Your oven’s got to be hot, hot hot!
And that’s it…
This “your oven’s got to be made here by this guy, who is from this part of Naples, and using this flour,
a little to much, … I’m in Matunuck Rhode Island. I’m not brining in the water from New York. I don’t bring in any crazy stuff.
I just do it the way I was taught, which is the way my dad taught me. And it seems to work for us…
Here is the interview on You Tube:
You can watch the rest of this interview here. You can also listen if you wish and download for later listening….
Find La Strada, here:
920 Matunuck Beach Road
Wakefield, RI 02879
Shop: 401.284.2253 Mobile: 401.533.2019