Spirit of Pizza Archives

La Strada Pizza on Pizza, Secrets, Best Pizza Places

lastradalogo

La Strada Pizza logo

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.

nickoven

La Strada Pizza Oven

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.

Nick: I remember sleeping on flour bags as a kid. I’d always stay there because there was a
rush (of customers)
and he would work really late, and I was a kid and I would stay in the pizza shop…
lastradapizza

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
the oven.

Your oven’s got to be hot, hot hot!

And that’s it…

Nick of La Stada and  Albert of Pizza Therapy

Nick of La Stada and Albert of Pizza Therapy

This “your oven’s got to be made here by this guy, who is from this part of Naples, and using this flour,
that’s all”
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:
La Strada
920 Matunuck Beach Road
Wakefield, RI 02879
Shop: 401.284.2253 Mobile: 401.533.2019

Best Pizza Peel: the Super Peel Part 1

Gary Casper had a pizza problem.

A BIG Pizza Problem. He was given a pizza stone, but he didn’t know how to use it. He was able to make pizza alright, but getting the pizza on and off the stone proved to be a problem.

Gary had been given a pizza baking stone similar to this one: Old Stone Oven 4467 14-Inch by 16-Inch Baking Stone

Then he had a brilliant idea…
Gary and I have been an Internet friends for a number of years. I’ve always been amazed at his unique way of moving pizza on and off a pizza stone.

In the following interview, Gary explains the Secret of The Super Peel: (EXO Limited Edition Super Peel in Solid Cherry! 100% Made in USA)

Albert: The Super Peel is a new take on an old tool. A peel is used to transfer a
pizza on and off a pizza stone (or wood fired oven).

Gary how did you come up with the idea of the Super Peel? How does it work?

Gary:

This truly was a Father-Daughter project from the getgo. Jen (my youngest)
had given me a pizza stone when she was about 9. We tried sliding pizzas
from a cardboard sheet and off of a flat baking sheet. Neither worked too
well initially. I am sure now that the whole shaking-sliding thing was
probably not beyond my abilities with a bit more practice.

But, impatience and stubbornness and a need to fix things was already kicking in.
Generally, we just set off try and incorporate a floured pastry cloth into
“something” that pizza wouldn’t stick to and that would magically put our
pizzas onto our baking stone.

Albert: How did you first create it? Did you go through a couple of design
ideas?

Gary:
Ha, I wish I had pictures of some of the variations. I do still have one
early version that was sort of a cloth held between two wooden rods and
third rod to move a loop of the fabric.

Another one incorporated parts from a car window shade. Fun yes, but getting more complicated all the way.
The basic design that is used in the Super Peel today, came as sort of a
“bolt out of the blue”, a flash of thought that came after having set the
whole project aside for a while. It was so simple and elegant!

Albert:
What gave you idea that the Super Peel would be popular with pizza makers and home chefs?

Gary:
A lot of research: books, magazines, internet, etc. all led to the
confirmation that we were not the only ones with this dough transfer
problem. We were clearly focused on pizza initially. Regarding possible
patenting, what is important is that which has already been done or
described before – referred to as “prior art”.

During my research, I came across a bread baking cook book by Carol Field – “The Italian Baker”. In
one part of the book she is describing how she observed bakers loading their oven in the “Old Country”.
She described them using a sling of fabric to place loaves in the oven and then just whipping it out to leave the loaves behind.

She then goes on to lament the fact that there is unfortunately no
such device for use in the home kitchen. That helped to further enforce the
notion that maybe we really were onto something and that it might find uses
beyond pizza making.

Albert: Does the Super Peel have any other uses in baking other than pizza?

Gary:
Yes, bread bakers, both amateurs and professionals have found it useful and
have endorsed it. The Super Peel has been used in classes at the CIA and
has even been mentioned in some bread baking books over the years. It can also be useful for pie and pastry making, as it can be slipped beneath and dough sheet even if it is partially stuck to the rolling surface.

Generally, it can help with any dough moving task and will reduce the amount of handling and reduce the amount of extra flouring needed. As you know, too much of either of these can adversely affect the quality of your
finished baked goods. Most recently, the wood fired oven gang has been giving us more attention. The use of too much bench flour can leave deposits on the bottom of your pizza, where it burns in the high heat of the
WFO. The result can be an unpleasant bitterness which can really detract from the pie.

Albert: How did you first start to Market the Super Peel?? What was your most successful promotion?

I actually started by attempting to license the concept. There was good
interest and a couple of near misses, which actually bolstered my confidence
in the product idea. The major obstacle to licensing was the fact that it
was just too new of an idea. One might think that a revolutionary game
changer would be a good thing, but such a product often requires so much
education up and down the line so as to be a real negative, regardless of
how cool and functional the product is. If customers cannot easily
understand a new product, they are not likely to buy it, especially if it
purports (like the Super Peel) to do magic.

I pitched the product to The Baker’s Catalogue, and they were interested in
trying it. Eventually, it appeared on the cover of the Catalogue in Nov. of
2003 and they sold about 1000 units. It was such a good fit with the
Catalogue that we had to do it, even though we didn’t make any money on the
whole deal. But, the exposure in The Baker’s Catalogue would later lead to
product testing at Cook’s Illustrated. Gaining a Cook’s Illustrated
endorsement has undoubtedly played a role in the success of the product.

End of Part 1 of Super Peel: Interview

Tony Gemignani Interview at Pizza Expo

Tony Gemignani at Pizza Expo

Tony Gemignani at Pizza Expo

 

Tony's Pizza Napoletana

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana

Tony Gemignani, always has something going on. I got a chance to chat with him recently.
We talked all about pizza….

Tony discusses his latest concept for pizza called Capo’s.  This is a Chicago styled pizzaeria based on the prohibition era.
They specialize in deep dish Chicago pizza and have a whiskey bar as well as many different Chicago style Italian dishes.Tony explains when you look at the pizza industry, Chicago is making a new wave.

Tony’s got a new book coming out next year. He’s opening two new restaurants, one in California and one in Las Vegas.
Both restaurants will be opening at the end of the year. He’s also doing something pizza related for Hollywood.

Yeah you heard that right, Hollywood!

This guys got a lot on his plate! How does he have time for all of these projects.  How does he do it, I just had to know.

“I barely sleep, I just love it”, he stated sheepishly. “I always thought the independent operator could make a statement in this industry, and we are…”

I wanted to know if he still keeps making pizza. I mean how does he have time for all of his projects and still be a hands-on pizza operator.

“When you come to Tony’s (Tony’s Pizza Napoleletana) you’ll see me behind the line. There are a few things we introduced to Tony’s. I think I said a few years ago Detroit was going to make a big impact. I brought that to the Tony’s menu, Detroit style, about a year and a half ago. That style is one of the hottest styles on the Expo floor.A few years ago it didn’t exist.
Last year a guy won best pizza in the world. Now everyone is talking Detroit.So we’ve introduced a couple of styles: St. Louis and Detroit. Places that most people don’t think existwhen it comes to pizza, but, if you do it right, it can be pretty awesome.
So we launched that about a year and a half ago.

That’s been a big part of the program at Tony’s because we have every style.
It’s crazy to go to Tony’s now and get 11 styles of pizza…”

Tony Gemignani

Tony’s Back

Here’s a video interview. I recorded of Tony at Pizza Expo. Tony was very honest and forthcoming in his responses.

Tony was a super star at Expo. Everyone wanted to speak with him. I was very appreciative that he was able to

spend some time with me….

 

 

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
1570 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 835-9888

No Reservations. No Exceptions.

The philosophy at Tony’s:

A small pizzeria in Naples, Italy is the inspiration behind Tony Gemignani’s story for Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. A fulfillment in his ever growing passion for pizza drew him to self content when he first tried an authentic Neapolitan pizza. Since then he was determined to learn this art of pizza making and one day open a restaurant like no other.

 

Tony Gemignani and Albert Grande          of Pizza Therapy

Tony Gemignani and Albert Grande of Pizza Therapy

 

 

You can listen to Tony’s Interview (and download it if you wish) below:


Tony’s book Pizza: More than 60 Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pizza is available right here…


John Arena of Metro Pizza, Las Vegas, Interview

John Arena  is both a student and a teacher of pizza.

John Arena contacted me several years ago explaining he had developed the first course about pizza to be offered at a major university.

Albert Grande and John Arena at the Pizza Expo.

Albert Grande and John Arena at the Pizza Expo.

The class is entitled: The Culture of Pizza.   

Here is the course description:

Course Description: A survey course on the history, culture and developing trends in the creation and production of pizza. The course includes, lectures, readings, ingredient analysis, production demonstrations and hands-on work with regard to the art and science of pizza-making.

Week 1: History of Pizza

A discussion of the evolution of pizza and related flatbreads from the ancient Greeks to the kitchens of celebrity chefs. We will discuss how historical events and migration have shaped pizza, where we started, where we are now, and where we may be headed. Class will be divided into three teams for final project.

Week 2: Napoli

Napoli is the birthplace of pizza as we know it. Discussion and hands-on demonstration of pizza as it is prepared in Naples. We will examine the approved standards of the VPN Italy’s governing body of pizza.

Week 3: Pizza Comes to the New World

An examination of pizza as it was prepared in New York’s Little Italy in the early 1900’s and how and why it has changed over time. Demonstration and practice of proper hand-crafting techniques.

Week 4: Dough Production

It all starts here. Basics of crust formulation. We will examine selection of ingredients, proper mixing and fermentation, and variations that will change flavor profiles and texture.

Week 5: Basics of Sauce, Cheese and Spices

We will sample and compare ingredients and learn to prepare a base pizza sauce. This class will also examine regional preferences and variations of the basic ingredients.

Week 6: In the Thick of It

Chicago Style Deep Dish, Foccacia, Stuffed Pizza and Calzones. We will examine the origins and elements of these pizza variations including hands-on practice of basic techniques.

Week 7: Pizza in the 21st Century

An examination of multi-cultural influences and current trends in the pizza world including sample and discussion of pizzas with nontraditional toppings.

Week 8: Presentation of Final Projects

Each team will have 15 minutes to prepare the team’s Pizza Creation including a spoken explanation of the inspiration and rationale behind its development. Final written examination.

The mandatory text book used was: Everybody Loves Pizza: The Deep Dish on America’s Favorite Food


 

I was honored to be able to interview John. He is not only a master pizzaiolo, but also a wonderful person.

In the following interview john discusses:

  • How he learned the pizza business
  • His philosophy of creating a pizza community
  • Why he pays his customers $25 gift certificates to visit other pizzerias
  • His take on the kinds of regional pizzerias in the United States
  • Why he takes his entire staff to visit Chris Bianco’s Pizzeria every year
  • He offers incredible insight on Chris Bianco
  • He gives great tips for the home pizza maker
  • What is the one pizza tool you should “throw away” if you are making pizza
  • How he created a College Class called The Culture of Pizza

This was a fascinating interview. You will discover tons of use information.

This interview is full of incredible pizza facts and insight, about John, his pizza philosophy, his relationship with his cousin, Sam, and more. 

You will be astounded with the amount of knowledge that John shares in this incredible interview. John Arena is a true Legend of Pizza

 

How the Internet Changed Pizza History

How the Internet Changed Pizza History

Pizza has always been America’s favorite food. It’s been the subject of movies, books, and songs. Pizza is not only a food of sustenance, but for some has become an obsessive delight. And for many Pizza Fans, pizza is a sheer and utter passion. Pizza debate brings on an endless thirst for argument that cannot be easily quenched with just a slice or two.

People discuss their favorite pizzerias with the same emotionally charged energy as they would discuss politics or their favorite sports team. Pizza has become so entrenched into the culture that it is easy to forget, pizza was once simply peasant food. Pizza was for many years, enjoyed by the lower echelons of society, who could afford little else.
For most of Pizza’s long and romantic history, pizza was a regional dish. The great pizza in New York stayed in New York.

The inside secrets of the best New York pizza remained in the boroughs and neighborhoods where it was created. There would be an occasional newspaper or magazine article. Television and radio reporters would sporadically discuss pizza on regional and local venues. However, unless you visited New York, these inside pizza secrets remained mysteries to the rest of the country.

The pizza in New Haven stayed in New Haven. Frank Pepe began making pizza in 1925. Sally’s founded by Franks, nephew, Salvatore Consiglio, came into being a decade later. Modern Apizza, also in New Haven developed their own brick oven masterpieces. Up the road in Derby, Connecticut, Roseland Apizza had created their own brand of incredible pizza, independently of anyone else.

Most people outside of New Haven were clueless to the pizza being created there. This was true for most of the residents of the entire state. Most Connecticut residents had never thought of traveling to New Haven to eat pizza. And why would they? They had their own great pizza, or so they thought.

And so it had been across the country. State by state, region by region. From the East Coast to the Heartland. From the Deep South to the West Coast. From Chicago to Los Angeles. From Portland to Louisiana. Pizza made in that region stayed in that region. There was no cross over. No sharing of pizza ideas.

The only way you discovered regional pizza was by knowing someone who lived there or by traveling yourself to a particular area and searching it out. Other than that, pizza was regionalized remained hidden and undiscovered.
This was true not only of the United States but across the entire planet. Pizzerias in Italy, all of Europe and other continents hid their pizza secrets to all but the fortunate residents and random traveler.

However, things were about to change. Enter the great game changer. The Big Kahuna of Information was about to turn regionalized pizza into a global point of argument and dialogue.

The floodgates of the great pizza symposium were opened. The Internet was the single biggest catalyst to educate, inform and open the debate of how to make pizza and where to find great pizza. The earth had truly become a global village of pizza. Now various countries, regions cities and towns were able to showcase their own marvel of pizza.
Slowly at first, websites were created. Here and there pizza was discussed. Pizza making secrets were shared. People became aware of pizza in other areas. Pizza Forums and blogs picked up the banner. And today you will find hundreds and hundreds of pizza related websites, blogs and discussion forums. All of these information portals share insights and knowledge about pizza.

Finally pizza lovers across the globe had a common voice. Pizza was given a common arena of deliberation and examination.

And we are just getting started. More pizza blogs and websites are created daily. All with their own unique pizza perspective, individual recommendations, pizza picks and pans. The pizza debate continues.
I don’t want to discount the many books on pizza, which assisted in the process of promoting the joys of pizza. Certainly, Peter Reinhart’s American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza
fueled the fire of pizza information. Ed Levine created a master piece with Pizza: A Slice of Heaven: The Ultimate Pizza Guide and Companion
. Penny Pollack and Jeff Ruby with their pizza tribute Everybody Loves Pizza: The Deep Dish on America’s Favorite Food
made a huge statement.

(Shameless plug: to purchase these books and a video review, go to: http://pizzatherapy.com/pizzabooks.htm ) Pizza Books

However, even the Internet assisted with the promotion of these books and allowed for more seasoned debate about pizza. Now you did not have to go out to purchase a book. If you found a pizza book you liked, you could just order it online and have delivered right to your door.

As much as the Internet did to create knowledge about countless unknown pizzerias, it became a way to show people how to make pizza. For the first time pizza fans could learn recipes and techniques from home. They could discuss and even ask questions. And if that weren’t enough the advent of video allowed pizza fans to learn pizza making by seeing it demonstrated in front of their eyes. And if they missed something the first time around, they could watch it again and again.

Some of the pizza information was free, while others (myself included I created: The Pizza Therapy Pizza Book ) created their own pizza e-books for sale.
There were a number of pizza fans who decided to take pizza making to the next level by opening their own pizzeria. I have been shocked and surprised at the number of world class pizzaioli who revealed to me, they first learned pizza making from the Internet.

This has happened to me on a number of occasions. I arrived at a pizza restaurant, looking forward to a classic pizza. I had the pizza, I loved the pizza, and when I asked the owner where they learned to make pizza, they proudly declared: they learned all about pizza making directly from the Internet.

And so that’s how the Internet changed Pizza History. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

The Pizza Therapy Pizza Book on Kindle:

 

 

The Best Pizza in New Jersey Interview

 

Undici from Legendsofpizza.com

The following interview is with Victor of Undici Taverna Rustica in New Jersey.

Victor claims to make the best pizza in New Jersey.

After listening to some of Victor’s responses, you will understand this is no idle claim.

Undici Taverna Rustica, has no equal in New Jersey or anywhere else. Their pizza is in a word: simply outstanding.

Honestly I was amazed at some of the information shared in this interview. Victor talks about his early influences of pizza, how he got into the business, his collaboration with Anthony Mangieri and more.
Albert:  Victor, thanks for taking the time to speak with me.
Do you have a memory of your first pizza? Please  describe it.

Victor: I made my first pizza as a child I was 3 or 4 years old at my father’s pizza parlor Rallo’s Pizzeria in Newark, New Jersey. They tell me it was pretty good maybe I had a knack early on.

Albert: Where did you grow up? How was the pizza?

Victor: I grew up as a child in Newark and then in My school days in Franklin Lakes New Jersey. The pizza was standard pizza parlor pizza. I ate the pizza but it never really impressed my as something delicious or gourmet.

Albert: How did you get interested in making pizza?

Victor: My dad was in the restaurant business his entire life so I was always around Italian food and pizza. My dad made a great pie in a conventional Bakers Pride oven. But he always used great ingredients his pizza’s were better than anyone else at the time.

Albert: Anthony Mangieri of Una Pizza Napoletana, is a legendary pizzaiolo. And I
believe he is from New Jersey. He is from what I understand, actually quite a purist when it comes to pizza.
You mention him as endorsing your pizza. Any endorsement from him holds a lot of weight in the World of Pizza.

How did you meet him?

Victor: I met Anthony riding bicycles; he and I share a passion for cycling. He rides more mountain bike then I do, I ride and race more on the road. But we used to ride together often. So we met on our bikes.

Albert: What is your relationship to Anthony?

Victor: He is a good fiend and my pizza mentor I believe he is the best pizza maker in America!

We made pizzas together at Undici my restaurant in Rumson New Jersey, for almost three months. We made so many pizzas together. He is a purest and that’s what I love about him.

Albert: Can you  give us an Anthony Mangieri anecdote or pizza story?

Victor: Sure as we were making pizzas I asked Anthony if the staff could eat them and he said no not until the pizzas are perfect.  About a week later we they tasted the pizza, a purest with a passion that is lost in most American kitchens.

Albert: How did you learn to make pizza? Did you struggle with anything in learning how to make great pizza?

Victor: I always knew how to make good dough, I learned that from my father but getting it all right at very high temperatures is very difficult. This is what sets the great pizzaiolas apart. They understand the balance of heat, texture of the dough, the cheese it’s a true art. So it took me quite a while to get the wood burning oven down, every day is a challenge.

Albert: I understand you make Neapolitan pizza. And your pizzeria is in New Jersey. New Jersey is famous for their tomato pies.

How is your style of pizza different or similar to the Tomato Pie?

Victor: This is a great pizza, classic Napoletana pizza, san Marzano tomato, Bufala Mozzarella, Caputo “oo” flour, fresh basil and really good extra virgin olive oil. Plus we use a three day dough so the dough has great character and life.

Albert: What makes your pizza the “best in New Jersey”?

Victor: Passion, precision and purity.  I have a deep passion for Italian history and culture, so I try every day to put on the table the closest possible thing top Pizza Vera Napoletana. If you taste my pizza and you have been to Naples you will taste, see and smell Naples in every bite. Very few people in New Jersey are doing this the authentic way.

Albert: What kind of oven do you have and why do you use it?

Victor: We use a Woodstone oven that burns only wood.

Albert: What kind of flour do you use?

Victor: Always Caputo it is the best.

Albert: Do you think water makes any difference when making pizza?

Victor: Absolutely only a master like Anthony could figure it out in California, because the water is not great there. In New Jersey the water has a perfect balance of minerrality to make great pizza. Yes it makes a difference.

Albert: Can you give the home pizza maker some pizza tips?

Victor: First buy a pizza stone, get your oven as hot as you can , use the ingredients I have described above and you can make a darn good pizza at home

Albert: Can you share a pizza recipe with us?

Victor: One of my favorites is making a traditional pizza Napoletana and when it comes out of the oven tossing some fresh garden arugula in olive oil and laying it on top of the pizza and then slicing some Prosciutto di Parma and laying a beautiful thin piece on each slice. BRAVO!!!!!

Albert: Do you make your dough the day before? Do you ferment your dough?

Victor: We start our dough with a mother on day one, some people call it a starter. On day two we add the remaining ingredients into the mother and mix the dough. We then let the dough set for 15- 30 minutes depending on the temperature of the kitchen. After it settles we ball the day and refrigerate it for use the third day. So the long and short answer is yes we ferment the dough.

Albert: Tell us a bit about your restaurant,  Undici Taverna Rustica? Do you have
a specialty house pizza?

Victor: The restaurant was built to recreate a Tuscan farmhouse, my partners the Diaco family had a major influence on the design it is absolutely a beautiful recreation. Besides pizza we make all of our own pasta homemade including ravioli and gnocchi.

Albert: How do you stay in touch with your customers?

Victor: We have a great staff that touches every customer that walks in our door. And we also monitor and use the internet and social media to touch our customers.

Tell us your website address: www.undicirestaurant.com
I love your video. You tell the whole  Undici Taverna Rustica pizza story.

Victor: I think my videos tell the whole story search Da Michele in Naples the best pizza place in the world I shot a great video from there.

Albert: Have your videos been a successful way to market  Undici Taverna Rustica?

Victor: Absolutely we have thousands of hits and views on our videos.

Albert: What is in the future for  Undici Taverna Rustica?

Victor: Undici will continue to serve the freshest seasonal interpretations of Italian cuisine in New Jersey and continue to make perfect Pizza Vera Napoletana for many years to come.

Albert: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Pizza on Earth, to you.

And Pizza All Over:

Undici Taverna Rustica

11  West River Road
Rumson , NJ 07760

732-842-3880

www.undicirestaurant.com

Victor from Undici

And for more great New Jersey Pizza:

Discover The Best Pizza in New Jersey at Pizza Therapy

The History of Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana

Pepe's Clam Pizza

Pepe's Clam Pizza

Frank Pepe Sign
The Famous Frank Pepe Sign on Wooster Street

 

From Gary Bimonte, Frank Pepe’s grandson, we are pleased to share the real history of Fank Pepe’s:

 

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

 

is one of the oldest and best-known pizzerias in the United States. Known locally as Pepe’s, is has its Original Location in the Wooster Square neighborhood of New Haven, CT, as well as stores in Fairfield, Manchester and Danbury CT, Yonkers, NY., and Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria was founded in 1925 by Frank Pepe (b. April 15, 1893 d. September 6, 1969). Born in the town of Maiori, on the Amalfi coast, southwest of Naples, Frank Pepe was the quintessential Italian immigrant. Poor and illiterate, he immigrated to the United States in 1909 at age 16 with little more than his health and a strong work ethic. His first job was at a New Haven, CT factory until he returned to fight for his native Italy in World War 1 a few years later.

He married Filomena Volpi, also from Maiori, in 1919. As newly-weds they returned to New Haven, CT in 1920 to begin building their new lives together.

Frank Pepe took a job at a local Wooster Street macaroni manufacturer, Genneroso Muro (the current location of Libby’s Italian Pastry). He then worked for Tony Apicella at his bread bakery, also on Wooster St.

He made his first entrepreneurial move by establishing his own bakery at 163 Wooster Street — in business today as Frank Pepe’s the Spot – baking his bread and delivering to the local community with a cart. Since he had difficulty documenting, because of his illiteracy, to whom he delivered and to the quantity, he soon abandoned his efforts of delivery. Instead, he made the fortuitous decision to start a business where his customers would come to him.

In 1925, with his wife Filomena, who was a pivotal influence on his success (she was literate and learned to speak and write English), they started making a simple and humble product from their homeland, pizza — or as they would say in their Neapolitan dialect, “apizza” (ah-beets). They baked their pizzas offering two types, tomatoes with grated cheese, garlic, oregano and olive oil and the other with anchovy. The Original Tomato Pie is still offered today and anchovy is still available as a topping. Mozzarella and additional ingredients were to follow.

In the formative years 1925 — 1937, he employed a small crew of relatives that included his half brother Alessio Pepe and his son Mac, cousin Tommy Sicignano, nephews Salvatore and Tony Consiglio. Incidentally, Salvatore Consiglio, after learning pizza baking from his uncle Frank, eventually made the decision to establish his own pizzeria on Wooster Street, the well known Sally’s Apizza.

In 1937, Frank Pepe bought the building next door at 157 Wooster Street, and moved his pizzeria to what is historically understood to be the main (although not the original) location. The original location continued as a pizzeria, called The Spot and operated by the Boccamiello family.

Like many business owners of the day, Frank Pepe lived above the pizzeria with his family that now included his daughters Elizabeth and Serafina. Everyone worked downstairs in the pizzeria. Frank Pepe became know as “Old Reliable” for his contributions to community and unwavering love for his growing family.

In the late 1970s, Elizabeth and Serafina, purchased the original bakery (163 Wooster St.) from the Boccamiello’s and re-opened Frank Pepe’s the Spot as an annex to the main building.

Pepe’s reputation as one the country’s premier pizzeria spread through word of mouth. In the early 1990s, Elizabeth and Serafina retired and the business passed to their children – Anthony, Francis, Lisa, Bernadette, Genevieve, Jennifer and Gary — who still operate the business today and have overseen its expansion.

Frank Pepe originated the New Haven-style thin crust pizza which he baked in bread ovens fired by coke. Coke is a byproduct of coal and it was used extensively until the late 1960′s when it became unavailable and hence coal was then put into use to fire the oven.

Pepe’s signature pizza, the White Clam Pizza, was most likely an organic inspiration by Frank Pepe; an idea born from the fact that Pepe’s also served raw little neck clams from Rhode Island, on the half shell, as an appetizer. This development occurred around the mid 1960′s and gradually became popular through the past 40 years. Contrary to what many have heard, Frank Pepe did not have an allergy to cheese and tomatoes and the white clam pizza’s evolution should not be attributed to this false malady.

A lot has happened since Frank Pepe starting baking “ah-beets” 85 years ago. Pizza has gone from an obscure ethnic dish to become a mainstay of the American dining scene. But what hasn’t changed at Pepe’s is the family’s commitment to the tradition of food quality and commitment to the community at large that Frank Pepe envisioned in 1925.

For more info about Pepe’s Visit Pizza Therapy Pepe’s Page

Comments from Pepe’s Pizza Lovers

Why You Should Make Your Own Pizza

Pizza is a universal food. Originally confined to Italian neighborhoods, pizza has now become mainstream. Travel anywhere in the world and you will be able to find some type of pizza..

As noted bread baker Peter Reinhart explained to me: “Pizza is the perfect flavor delivery system.” Pizza is the ultimate comfort food.

With a little practice, you can easily make your own delicious home made pizza.

Here are four reasons why you should make your own pizza.

1) Making pizza is easy. With the basic tools found in any kitchen, you will be able to make pizza dough. All pizza dough follows the same basic pattern. Mix flour with yeast, water and salt. Some pizza dough recipes call for oil, however this may be omitted. (I use olive oil in my recipe, but this is a matter of preference.) There are many wonderful pizza dough recipes available to you. You need to find one that you like and will satisfy your own taste.

2) Making pizza is healthy. Since you are making your own pizza, you have total control over the ingredients used. I encourage you to use the freshest ingredients available. The old standards, pepperoni, sausage, tomato sauce, and various cheeses make excellent toppings for pizza. There are many vegetables that can be used for pizza as well including fresh garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, onions, mushrooms and zucchini. Fresh seafood such as shrimp and clams can also compliment your pizza. Experiment. You will create new taste sensations. You are only limited to your imagination when deciding what to put on your pizza.

3) You will save lots of money. You will be amazed at how economical it is to make your own pizza. The actual price of putting together a quality pizza at home is much cheaper than buying pizza at a pizzeria. One way to save money is by purchasing ingredients on sale. You can multiply your savings by obtaining items in bulk at a food discount warehouse. For example some items like mozzarella cheese can be purchased in bulk. Use what you need, and freeze the rest to be used the next time you make pizza. The savings of buying your pizza ingredients in bulk is substantial.

4) Making pizza is fun. Pizza can be a wonderful group activity. When you make pizza, you can get everyone around you involved in some part of the process. Pizza is also an enjoyable family activity. All kids love making pizza. Pizza is a fun activity which can be enjoyed not only by families but by singles as well. When you make pizza, you make magic happen.

Still not convinced you can make your own pizza? Here are some steps you can take to painlessly, create your own pizza. Start with a frozen pizza shell purchased at a supermarket. This is a good way to begin to learn how to make your own pizza. You are in complete control of what toppings you will use.

The next step is to purchase fresh pizza dough from a bakery or pizzeria. This will give you good experience in working with dough and shaping your pizza. Making pizza like this will allow you invaluable experience.

Finally, you can try making your own dough from scratch. Making dough may seem difficult at first, but will get easier and easier over time. You can find a link box to get a free copy of my pizza dough at the end of this article.

Without much effort, you will be making healthy pizza, saving money and having a lot of fun. The hardest part of making pizza is the clean-up.

Listen to an audio of this article, here:

Learn to make your own homemade pizza and dough at Pizza Therapy, click here, now!

Olive Oil

The Pizza Place, Westerly Rhode Island

The Pizza Place, Westerly Rhode Island

Rosario Cacciatore knows pizza. He first started to make pizza while he was the dishwasher at the Recovery Room, in New London. FYI: the Recovery Room makes some of the best pizza in Southeastern Connecticut.

Now, Rosario has opened his own pizzeria in nearby, Westerly, Rhode Island. Known simply as the Pizza Place, he continues to make great pizza.

Now The Pizza place is making the best pizza in Rhode Island.

For me one of the most interesting things he states is about making pizza. He does explain that you need to use only the finest ingredients. You need very fresh high qulaity ingredients.

But then he goes on to explain that unless you have a love for pizza, it just does not turn out right.

Visit the Pizza Place and let us know what you think.

The Pizza Place
43 Broad Street,
Westerly, RI 02891
(401) 348-1803 or Toll Free 1-877-596-7739

Here is something you may find useful, if you are in the Pizza Business or considering the pizza business. Profits in the Pie: Effective Marketing Tactics to Seize YOUR Slice of the $38.1 Billion Pizza Pie

Vision of Pizza by John Arena from Metro Pizza

John Arena explains the Vision of Pizza embraced by Metro Pizza in Las Vegas. Jon explains everyone has thier own vision of great pizza. Whether you are from Brooklyn or New Haven. New Jersey or Chicago. Seattle or San Francisco, everyone has their own idea of the perfect pizza.

Metro has a great concept for out of town pizza fans. If you go to Metro with a picture in front of you favorite pizzeria, you will recieve $25.00 worth of food. Metro pizza wants to recgnize and celebrate great pizza the world over.

John and his cousin Sam came from New York to begin their pizza adventure.

In the following presetation John, explains his vision of pizza.

John’s pizzeria philosophy:

“…We believe that a true Pizzeria should be a gathering place for family and friends to relax, share great food and enjoy each other’s company. We have visited hundreds of Pizzerias across the country, learning and gathering recipes to bring our guests a taste of home, wherever home might be….”

Metro Pizza( 5 Locations including:)
1395 East Tropicana Avenue
Las Vegas, Nevada
Tropicana & Maryland Parkway
(702) 736-1955

John teaches a pizza class at UNLV. Here is the course outline:

Week 1: History of Pizza

A discussion of the evolution of pizza and related flatbreads from the ancient Greeks to the kitchens of celebrity chefs. We will discuss how historical events and migration have shaped pizza, where we started, where we are now, and where we may be headed. Class will be divided into three teams for final project.

Week 2: Napoli

Napoli is the birthplace of pizza as we know it. Discussion and hands-on demonstration of pizza as it is prepared in Naples. We will examine the approved standards of the VPN Italy’s governing body of pizza.
Week 3: Pizza Comes to the New World

An examination of pizza as it was prepared in New York’s Little Italy in the early 1900’s and how and why it has changed over time. Demonstration and practice of proper hand-crafting techniques.

Week 4: Dough Production

It all starts here. Basics of crust formulation. We will examine selection of ingredients, proper mixing and fermentation, and variations that will change flavor profiles and texture.

Week 5: Basics of Sauce, Cheese and SpicesWe will sample and compare ingredients and learn to prepare a base pizza sauce. This class will also examine regional preferences and variations of the basic ingredients.

Week 6: In the Thick of It

Chicago Style Deep Dish, Foccacia, Stuffed Pizza and Calzones. We will examine the origins and elements of these pizza variations including hands-on practice of basic techniques.

Week 7: Pizza in the 21st Century

An examination of multi-cultural influences and current trends in the pizza world including sample and discussion of pizzas with nontraditional toppings.

Week 8: Presentation of Final Projects

Each team will have 15 minutes to prepare the team’s Pizza Creation including a spoken explanation of the inspiration and rationale behind its development. Final written examination.

Here is the textbook for the course:

Everybody Loves Pizza: The Deep Dish on America’s Favorite Food