April 23, 2012 6 min to read
The Best Pizza in New Jersey Interview
Category : Great Pizza, Interviews, Legends of Pizza Scoops, Spirit of Pizza
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:
11 West River Road
Rumson , NJ 07760
And for more great New Jersey Pizza: