Category Archives: Pizza Restaurants

Puglia comes to Kesté

A number of years ago Michele and I were on a press trip to Puglia and we visited Cantina Due Palme. Recently I received  and invitation for an event called  “Wines of Excellence Made in Puglia: Cantine Due Palma at Keste Wall Street.”

It is always a pleasure to go to Keste and I wanted to catch up on the wines of Due Palme.

Roberto Caporuscio, Pizzaiolo/Owner of Keste, was the host for the evening.

We started with  a focaccia typical of Puglia, made by Roberto. The flour is a mix of Super  Nuvola “0” flour from Caputo, semolina and potato.  The topping is tomatoes and olives.

There was Buratta, a cow’s milk cheese, which originated in Puglia that has an outer shell of mozzarella and inside a mix of shredded mozzarella and cream called stracciatella. It is made fresh everyday at Keste.

Olives from Puglia-Cerignola

Roberto with his former students

Two former students of Roberto, Penelope and Lucie, made the pizza. They have since opened a pizzeria in Quebec City called Nina Pizza Napolitaine.  Roberto said they were his best students and after I tasted the pizza I could not agree more, it was that good.

I asked Robert what flour he uses for his pizza.  He said he uses a mix of 50% Tipo 1 and 50% Super Nuvola Tipo 0 from Caputo.

The Pizza

Pizza with  a mix of homemade straciatella, and smoked and regular mozzarella infused with fresh mint and limoncello, and topped with fresh figs – fantastic.

Pizza with stracciatella cheese, broccoli rape and sausages

Pizza with ricotta and onions sauteed with mixed berries

Vegetarian pizza

Figs marinated in red wine

Cantina Due Palme is a Social Cooperative with its main headquarters located in Cellino San Marco, Puglia.  It was established in 1989 but its roots go back to 1943. In  the beginning there were only 15 members and today there are 1,000 and they have merged with 4 other large wineries with a total capacity 10,000 HL of wine.

Salice Salentino DOP Riserva “Selvarossa” made from Negroamaro and Malvasia Nero. The soil is baked red clay and the training system is alberello. The grapes are hand harvested and some of the grapes are dried in the cellars to concentrate the sugars and flavors and to enrich the structure. The wine is aged for 9 months in French oak barriques and then in bottle until it is ready to be released. The wine has hints of cherry jam, dates and vanilla with a note of toasty oak and a touch of spice.

Primitivo Di Manduria DOP “Sangatano” made from 100% Primitivo Di Manduria. The soil is red in color because of iron oxides with a rocky limestone substratum. The wine is aged for 6 months in American oak barriques followed by maturation in the bottle for a period of time. This is a wine with black fruit aromas and flavors with hints of vanilla and chocolate.

Rosso Salento IGP “1943 The Presidents Wine” made from Primitivo and Aglianico from vineyards planted in 1968. The grapes are hand harvested and some of the grapes are dried (appassimento) in the cellars which are kept humidity free to avoid spoilage. The wine is aged for 9 months in new barrels and for a period in bottle before release. This is an intense and complex wine with hints of coffee, ripe cherry, plum and spicy notes of vanilla. It is called The Presidents Wine because it produced from the old vineyards planted by Angelo Marci, founder and president of the company, in 1968 using the alberello vine training method.

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Herculanum Pizza: le Parùle

Ristorante and Pizzeria le Parùle http://www.leparule.it in Herculaneum, modern day Ercolano, near Naples, has a great reputation. I first read about it on Luciano Pignataro’s blog, www.lucianopignataro.it. A few years ago, I was invited to the area by Campania Stories to taste the wines of the principal zones of Campania, visit the wineries and have dinner with the winemakers at night. To my surprise and delight, one of the restaurants where we were scheduled to dine was le Parùle. The name means vegetable garden in Neapolitan dialect.

When I returned to NYC I told Michele that not only was the pizza fantastic but also the rest of the food on the menu.

Giuseppe

One of the places we have never visited on our frequent trips to Campania was the ancient Roman city Herculanum, destroyed by the famous eruption of Mont Vesuvio on August 24th 79 AD.  On this visit to Naples, we decided to visit Herculanum in the morning and go to le Parùle, only a few minutes away, for lunch. I contacted Giuseppe Pignalosa the owner/chief/pizzaiolo of le Parùle to let him know that we were coming.

Giuseppe said he only uses the best ingredients from the Mount Vesuvio region.

We started as always with Pizza Margherita made with Neapolitan tomatoes, fior di latte dei Monti Lattari cheese, and olio extravergine d’oliva del Vesuvio “Villa Dora”.  Giuseppe said he uses Caputo “0” flour and does not use a biga (starter).

Next we had a pizza topped with ‘nduja, a spicy cured meat, and mozzarella.

We also had some fried things, including macaroni with bechamel sauce, peas, cheese and ham, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried until crisp on the outside and melted within.

Then Fried calamari with onion rings

Montanara (pizza fritta) topped with Pomodorino del piennolo del Vesuvio, mozzarella di bufala Campana D. O. P., olio extravergine d’oliva del Cilento D.O.P. “Monzo” of Pietra Bianca and fresh basil.

I have been traveling to Naples, Italy for many years, and I think Le Parule has some of the best fried food and pizza I have tasted.

 

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Pastry, Pizza and Pasta Demonstrations at Kesté Wall Street

The “Made in Italy 2019 Cooking Show” at Keste and Vino Wall Street was a two-day event featuring pasta, pizza and pastry making demonstrations.

There were four presentations altogether and they were repeated on the second day.

Sabatino with the dough for the Baba

The first demonstration was a Pastry Presentation: Italian Pastry Techniques with Sabatino Sirica from Sirica dal 1976 in S.Giorgio a Cremano, Naples.  Sabatino made Baba’, a yeast raised cake typically soaked in rum syrup, though other liquors, such as limoncello can be used. Baba’ is a very typical Neapolitan sweet.

Vincenzo Ianucci from Caputo preparing the pizza

The second presentation, using Nuvola Super “0″ Flour by Caputo: Contemporary Flour for Contemporary Pizza Making with Vincenzio Iannucci, a pizzaiolo who works for the Caputo company in Italy.  Other topics were: New Age of Contemporary Pizza and Pizza in Teglia alla Romana.

 

Giorgia preparing the dough for frying

Next session, Georgia Caporuscio of Keste Pizza and Don Antonio featured  The New Age of Frying.  She gave us insights on frying, using the right oil and techniques.

The last demonstration was for Garofalo Pasta: New and Innovated Pasta Dishes and was presented by Pastificio Garafalo, Pasta di Gragnano.

The event was very interesting and informative and I will write about all of the events I attended. Next time Italian Pastry Techniques with Sabatino Sirica making Baba’, Graffe’, Brioche Dolce, and more.

 

 

 

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Filaga: Pizza Anyway You Slice It

I am always looking for new pizzerias to try. Liliana Rosano, a journalist I know, recommended I try Filaga Pizzeria Siciliana. She said if I wanted to go she would call the manager and let him know I was coming. I was very interested because their pizza is sold by the slice.  I prefer to order a whole pizza since slices are generally reheated and not very good.  No one seems to care.  I was hoping that this would be different.

Filaga Pizzeria Siciliana is located in the Chelsea market and the afternoon I went it was very crowded by customers buying pizza by the slice. You pay for the pizza and get a number which is called when the pizza is ready.

Salvatore  with the Sfincuni, Valerio with the Margherita and Gabriele with the  Diavola

I was met by Gabriele Lamonaca, the general manager, who is from Rome. He introduced me to the chef/manager Salvatore Gagliardo, from Porto Empedocle, Sicily and the pizzaiolo Valerio Coletta. I do not know if it was because they came from Italy but the passion for what they were doing was unlike any pizza by the slice place I have ever been in. They really cared about the product they were making.

Gabriele referred to the pizza as pizza Siciliana, made with techniques that come from the Roman tradition of Pizza in Teglia–the tradition of square pizza by the slice.

As in Rome the pizzas are displayed and then reheated when they are ordered in a special stone oven.

Gabriele said they use Polselli 100% pure “00” flour. The flour comes from Frosinone a city south of Rome. They make a hydrated dough (about 83%) and the dough is left to rise for 96 hours. He said this produces a light, digestible and crispy dough. Gabriele said reheated pizza is sometimes associated with a low quality product  but this is not true.  Pizza Teglia is supposed to be reheated before it is served. There is extra moisture in the dough and when the pizza is reheated this extra moisture is released to obtain the perfect crunch to the crust.  It is thin-crusted pizza with enough bite to make it chewy.

All of the cured meats and cheeses are imported from Italy, and the produce is local and seasonal. They use Mozzarella di Bufala from Italy for their cheese that they break by hand every day to ensure the perfect texture. Only Italian organic tomatoes are used for the sauce. The extra virgin olive oil is from Puglia.

The Pizza

Sfinciuni” very typical of Sicily, especially Palermo. It is made from tomato sauce, onions, pecorino and breadcrumbs and it was wonderful.

Spinaci and pancetta with smoked mozzarella.   I had a slice of this one and it was fantastic.

Crudo made with prosciutto crudo Pachino tomatoes, Parmigiano Reggiano, arugula, tomato sauce and mozzarella di bufala.

 

The Margherita  with tomato, bufala mozzarella and basil and tomato, one of my favorites.

I also had the Diavola made with spice salami, tomato sauce, mozzarella which Gabriele is holding in the first picture.

Calzoni

Parma Focaccio ripiena

Yes, Filaga is different and it is the only pizza by the slice place I have ever recommended. I look forward to returning soon!

Soft drinks, beer and wine are served. 

Filaga is a small village not far from Palermo.

Located at 75 Ninth Avenue inside the Chelsea market. The are open from 10:30 AM to 9:00 Pm seven days a week.

646-678-5382

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Pizza Popolare $5 at Kesté

 

Roberto Caporuscio is a master pizzaiolo and I have enjoyed his pizza since he first opened Keste on Bleecker St.

Recently he invited me to Keste at the Fulton Street location.

 

For the month of December, Roberto is reducing the price of three of Keste’s most popular pizzas to $5  each, the same price you would pay for them in Naples!

The pizzas include:

Mast’Nicola made with grana, lardo, basil and extra virgin olive oil. Roberto said that this pizza dates back to the 16 century before tomatoes were known in Europe.

Marinara Kesté made with tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes and oregano. Roberto said this pizza dates back to the 17 Century when tomatoes came into Europe from the New World.

Margherita made with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, grana, basil and extra virgin olive oil. He said this was the most famous pizza and it dates from the 18 Century. It is my favorite and has been since I first went to Naples in 1970.

The $5 pizza popolare are available at Keste Bleecker St. and Keste Fulton St. The promotion at the moment will last until the end of the year.

Roberto speaking  about the pizza popolare

Roberto said he now uses 70% Tipo 1 and 30% Tipo 00 flour from Caputo for his dough.

The mozzarella is now made in-house.

Roberto also made a few of his other specialties.  Here he is cutting  focaccia stuffed with prosciutto and cheese

Fried Buratta Cheese

Roberto also made a pizza with mozzarella, anchovies and grated lemon rind 

There was a special dessert pizza that is not on the menu.

We had two wines:

Prosecco DOC “Cuvée Giuliana” Isotta Manzoni made from 100% Glera. The soil is clayey and calcareous, the vines are 25 to 30 years old and the vineyard is at 200 meters. The exposure is southwest and the training system is the traditional pergola. Fermentation takes place for 25 days in stainless steel tanks and it is aged for one month is stainless steel. The wine has hints of apple and lemon with a note of grapefruit and nice minerality.

 

Brunello di Montalcino 2013 Piancornello made from 100% Sangiovese. The training system is spurred cordon and there are 5,000 to 6,000 plants per hectare. The wine ages for 24 months in oak barrels and at least 4 months in bottle before release. This is a full bodied wine with red and black berry aromas and flavors, a hint of spice and herbs and touch of balsamic.

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Pizza at Sottocasa

I first met Luca Arrigini when he was with the master pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio at Kestè on Bleecker Street.

Luca opened Pizzeria Sottocasa in Brooklyn and Michele and I tried it several years ago. We really liked the pizza but somehow we did not have the opportunity to return.

Two weeks ago friends that live in Harlem said they have been ordering pizza from their local branch of Sottocasa and invited us to join them there. We were glad to go.

Luca is from Milan and now lives in Brooklyn where he normally works, but he told me he would meet me at the Harlem location when I came. His partner Matteo Prospiti and his wife Elena live in Harlem so they are typically at that location.

The Brooklyn Sottocasa is located at 298 Atlantic Ave (718) 852-8758. The Harlem branch is at 227 Lenox Ave (646) 928-2870. Both locations are on the ground floor of a brownstone, which is where the name comes from.

We started with gluten free focaccia because one in our party is on a gluten free diet. It crisp, tasty and very good.

Next we had a regular Margherita made with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. The crust was flavorful and well risen and a light dusting of semolina underneath gave it a subtle crunch. The toppings were good, too. The tomatoes were sweet and the mozzarella fresh tasting.

After that we tried the Napoli made with tomatoes, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano and basil which we also enjoyed.

Our friend ordered a gluten free Margherita, which was very good for gluten free.

The last pizza was a Laura, named after Luca’s wife. It was topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, mascarpone, speck and rosemary.

Luca said they make Neapolitan style pizza because he believes it is the best pizza of all.

The dough is made with Caputo 00 flour and rests in different stages for 48 hours, though it is usually never used before 60.

They use only Italian organic tomatoes for their sauce, freshly crashed and with just a little salt added. Fior di Latte mozzarella from Wisconsin is the cheese they use. They break the cheese by hand everyday to insure the right texture. The extra virgin olive oil is from Sicily, labeled directly for Sottocasa.

We also enjoyed the generous salads, which were lightly dressed and a good complement to the pizzas.

The wines 

Brunello di Montalcino 1990 from Livio Sassetti made from 100% Brunelllo. The wine was drinking very nicely, showing no signs of age and should last for a number of years.

Barbaresco 1971 from Produttori del Barbaresco made from 100% Nebbiolo. This has developed into a classic mature Barbaresco and is a pleasure to drink.

Both wines were a perfect complement to the pizza.

The cappuccino.

Matteo offered us two amaros and said because they were across from a school they did not have a liquor license and only could serve wine. The two Amaros were wine based.

The first was Pasubio Vino Amaro from G Cappelletti which was very nice but a bit too fruity.

The second, Cardamaro Bosca, was stronger and with more herb and spice flavors. We all really liked it.

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Judging the Pizza and Prosecco Competition

I was speaking to Rosario Procino, owner of Ribalta Pizzeria, at a wine tasting and the conversation turned to pizza in Naples and NYC. As we were talking, Megan De Angelo of Colangelo, a PR firm, came by to see Rosario and joined the conversation. She said that she was organizing a Prosecco & Pizza Competition at Ribalta and invited me to be one of the judges. 

The event took place during Prosecco Week.  Prosecco is the largest selling sparkling (spumante) wine in Italy.  Italians drink it as an aperitif (no self- respecting Roman or Venetian goes out to dinner without having a glass of Prosecco first), with food, and to celebrate. When I am in Rome the first meal I have is at Da Giggetto in the Jewish Quarter. I always order the same dish, fried zucchini flowers stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella with a bottle of Prosecco. I think it goes great with any type of fried food, shellfish and Pizza. I am a big fan of sparkling wine with pizza.

Prosecco production takes place in the area of north east Italy lying between the Dolomites and the Adriatic sea. Since July of 2009 Prosecco can be produced in two regions; the Veneto(most of the production) and Friulli-Venezia Giulia.

Sparkling (Spumante) Prosecco) can be Brut, Extra Dry Dry or Demi Sec. Brut is dryer than Extra Dry. It is made from the Glera (formerly known as Prosecco) grape (85- 100%) with the possible addition of Verdiso, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay up to 15%. Most Prosecco is non-vintage.

Sparkling Prosecco is made by the Martinotti-Charmat method, meaning that the wine is given a second fermentation in a temperature controlled stainless steel tank (autoclave) rather than in the bottle.

The were four Pizzerias  that competed in the challenge:

Josh Johnson and Jordan FloydBarboncino – 781 Franklin Ave. Brooklyn, NY. 7188-483-8834

Steve Spinelli- Porta.- Jersey City, N.J. 201-544 -5199 and Asbury Park N.J. 732-726-7661

Pasquale Cozzolino – Ribalta – 48 East 12th St. NY, NY    212-777-7781

Flavio Garelli- Cacio and Vino – 80 2nd Ave. NY, NY 212-228-3269

Each pizzaiolo was given two Proseccos DOC, one Brut (to be Brut it can have up to 12g/l of residual sugar) and one Extra Dry (12 to 17% of residual sugar). They had to choose either the Brut or Extra Dry to pair with their pizza.

Both Josh Johnson and Steven Spinelli went with the La Marca Extra Dry Prosecco NV (Veneto) to pair with their pizza.

La Marca is made from the Glera grape 100%. The wine is named for the La Marca Trevigina zone in the heart of the Prosecco region. It has hints of fresh citrus, honey and grapefruit with mineral undertones.

After we tasted the Prosecco with the pizza,  orange juice  was poured into our glasses to create a mimosa cocktail.  We tasted his pizza again with the mimosa.

The next two Pizzaioli chose Prosecco Castello di Roncade Brut Traviso DOC NV (Veneto) to go with their pizza made from 100% Glera (residual sugar 9g/l).  It has hints of citrus fruit with herbal and grassy notes and a dry finish.

Each pizzaiolo made 6 pizzas- one for the judges and 5 for the guests.  The pizzaioli brought all of their own ingredients- anything necessary to make the pizza. They shared a wood-burning oven. There were no restrictions on ingredients and creativity was encouraged.

THE PIZZA

Josh Johnson and Jordan FloydBarboncino

Herb goat cheese base-fontina cheese -jambon de bayonne from les trois petits cochons-grilled red onion -homemade peach and apricot jam -arugula and micro green blend

 

Steve Spinelli- Porta.

The Spring Betty – goat cheese, house-made mozzarella, asparagus, garlic, watercress pesto, & thyme

Pasquale Cazzolino -Ribalta

Calzone with basil ricotta, smoked fior di latte, Neopolitan salame and piennolo tomatoes

 

Flavio Garelli- Cacio and Vino

Fried zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and anchovies, topped with pomodorini, bufala and capers

 Scoring sheet

Scoring sheet

The judges were:

Hindy Chang- Restaurant Groupie

Sarah Tracey-Wine Lifestyle Services

Morgan Raum- Instagram

Charles Scicolone – Wine and food writer. wwwcharlesscicolone.wordpress.com   www.i-italy.org

Rosario Procino, Partner/owner Ribalta

Flavio, Giusto Priola and Paolino from  Cacio e Vino

After we tasted all of the pizza and tallied the votes, it was a tie between Pasquale  Cozzolino from Ribalta and Flavio Garelli from Cacio and Vino.  All the pizza we tasted went very well with the Prosecco but we broke the tie by giving the grand prize The pizza from Flavio because it  paired better with the Prosecco.  The prize was $2,500.

I felt like a winner too.  It was a great afternoon and I enjoyed tasting pizza and prosecco.

 

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