Category Archives: Pizza Restaurants

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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Filed under Pizza, Pizza Restaurants, Prosecco, Ribalta, Uncategorized

Champagne and Pizza

Many years ago a wine writer friend  introduced me to the delights of  Champagne with pizza and I have been enjoying them together ever since. Once a month or so a group of us get together at La Pizza Fresca in NYC for a Champagne and pizza luncheon. Here are the results of our last get together.  The Champagnes listed below are from older vintages and I felt they went better with white pizza. More recent vintage  Champagnes go better with tomato based pizza such as a Margherita.

Champagne Krug Grand Curvee NV 158eme Edition-A blend of more than 120 wines from ten or more different vintages and three grape varieties.  30% of the base wine is from the 2002 vintage. The wine remains in the cellar for at least 6 years before release. This is a full and elegant Champagne with hints of dried fruit, gingerbread, citrus fruit and a touch of almonds, brioche and honey. ID#108001 [disgorged 2008, base vintages 2002-1988] The full story of every bottle of Krug is revealed in its Krug ID, the six digits on the black label. 

SAVOIA-Mushrooms, pancetta, fontina and bufala mozzarella

 

Champagne Vallèe Grand Cru 2002  Raphaël and Vincent Bèrêche made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from Aÿ, disgorged in December 2013. The dosage is 2g/l. Traditional vinification and parcels are vinified separately. Malolactic fermentation is avoided and the wines are bottled around May without filtration and with a natural cold setting by opening all the cellar windows for three days. Disgorging is by hand and they use a traditional liqueur for the dosage.

RUSTICA- Pancetta, onions and bufala mozzarella

 

Champagne Krug 2002 made from 40% Pinot Noir, 39% Chardonnay and 21% Meunier. It was released after 14 years in the cellar and released after the 2003. The bouquet jumped right out of the glass. It is an intense and elegant Champagne with fruits of all types and notes of cassis, candied orange, and honey and a vibrant and persistent long finish. 2002 was an excellent vintage in Champagne. Disgorged in 2014 

Champagne Pierre Peters Brut Blanc de Blancs 1996 Le Mesnil-Sur Oger 100% Grand Cru made from 100% Chardonnay. Three parcels of vines from 40 to 70 years old yield the grapes to make this Champagne. Chalky soil. The dosage is 4 to 5g/L. The Champagne has hints of acacia, peach, pear, and fresh almonds with a hint of gingerbread and good minerality. The champagne is produced exclusively using the grapes from one harvest year and only during the finest years.

 CIME DI RAPE- Broccoli rabe, sausage and bufala mozzarella.

Champagne Krug Brut 1996-made from 48% Pinot Noir, 31% Chardonnay and 21% Meunier. 1996 was one of the best vintages of the century. It was the last vintage blended by three generations of the Krug family working together. Coming from 17 different growths. The champagne has rich mature aromas, full ripe flavors and hints of fresh pear, ripe fruit, honey and gingerbread. Disgorged in 2007.

Champagne Krug Rose-the 21st Edition is a blend of 57 wines, dating from 2000 to 2008. Made from 51% Pinot Noir, 41% Chardonnay and 8% Meunier. There is also 10% traditional Pinot Noir red wine from the House’s plot in Ay. The Champagne remains in the cellar for at least 7 years before release. This is a very subtle  Rosè Champagne with hints of roses, red currant, pink grapefruit and a touch of citrus. Disgorged in 2002.

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Celebrating the Art of Neapolitan Pizza in NYC

“Tu Vuò Fa’ il Napoletano- Facce de Pizza” comes to NYC to celebrate the art of the Neapolitan pizzaiuloi as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The idea for the event came with the recognition by UNESCO of the art of Neapolitan pizza making and was developed with the Association Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN).

In the photo art expert  Francesca Silvestri, Antonio Pace, President of VPNA, Peppe Mele, the VPNA delegate to the US and Elizabetta Cantone journalist, Co-Founder and CEO of Dress and Dreams.

The event was organized by journalist Elizabetta Cantone of Dress in Dreams Movies and Culture with the support of MiBACT- Direct Cinema. The events took place on April 16th at Ribalta Pizzaria, April 17 at NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marinò center and April 19 at Song’e Napule Pizzeria.

Cantone said these events intend to show the art of the Neapolitan Pizzaioli through the many films that feature pizza.

Chef Pasquale Cozzolino of Ribalta

I attended the event at Ribalta, which has a large screen.  We saw clips from American and Italian movies with pizza in all its forms being made and eaten.  There were clips from” The Gold Of Naples” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” just to mention two very different movies.

Cantone said that pizza in the past was a dish of the poor but today it is considered a gourmet dish prepared with the best ingredients.

I spoke with Pasquale Cozzolino the Pizzaiolo and Chef of Ribalta about his style and in particular the flour that he uses for pizza, which is a subject of great interest to me.,

In Naples many pizza places will list the source of all the ingredients to show they are only using the best ones.

Along with Pasquale some of the pizza was made by Rosatio Granieri from Rossopomodoro in NYC.  I tasted the pizza margherita, pizza marinara and another with cheese and sausage.

 

 

 

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Special Pizza to Aid Hurricane Relief

 

It is not often that two top pizzaioli join together in a pizza making event to share Neapolitan pizza making techniques and collaborate in making pizza to benefit hurricane victims.

The event was held at Keste Wall Street( 66 Gold Street NYC )Roberto Caporuscio newest location. Roberto was joined by Tony Gemignani, a 12 time pizza champion, cookbook author and restaurant owner from the West Coast.

Roberto speaking about the dough

Roberto said, “It’s important that the centuries-old art of Neapolitan pizza-making is preserved for generations to come. Tony and I have so much respect and passion for what we do and love to share it with others. While he’s (Tony) in town from the West Coast, we thought it would be fun to get together and offer pizza-lovers an evening of tasting and teaching.”

There was a friendly competition as to who would make the best special pizza. Tony went first.  His version was made with butternut squash, mascarpone, fried brussels sprouts and a drizzle of sorghum.  

Roberto’s was topped with peas, prosciutto di Parma, pancetta, house made burrata and a drizzle of local honey. The pizza will be offered as a special at all of Roberto’s restaurants through November. Proceeds from sales will be donated to the American Red Cross’ Hurricane Irma relief fund.

Giorgia and Roberto

Giorgia Caporuscio, Roberto’s daughter an award winning pizzaiola in her own right, made the  Caporuscio version of the pizza.

The Caporuscio version being prepared by Georgia 

The finished pizza

The preparation of the Margarita

Ready to eat

 

 

 

Then she made a pizza with zucchini flowers whole tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella- preparation

 

Ready to eat

 

 

Tony signed copies of his new book

 

 

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CAMPANIA STORIES: PIZZA NAPOLETANA AT LE PARÙLE

Ristorante and Pizzeria le, Parùle www.leparule.it in Herculaneum, modern day Ercolano, near Naples, has a great reputation. It had been recommended by a friend, Marina Alaimo, wine and food writer, who knows it well, and I read about it on Luciano Pignataro’s blog, www.lucianopignataro.it.  I had wanted to try it when I was in the area in February but even though it is just a short train ride from Naples, I did not have time to go.IMG_0070

Last month, I was invited once again to the area by Campania Stories to taste the wines of the principle  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.

Giuseppe Pignalosa

Giuseppe Pignalosa

Giuseppe Pignalosa is the owner/chef/pizzaiolo and is very serious about his food, especially pizza. He insists on using only the best ingredients from the Mont Vesuvio region. Even though we were a very large group at dinner, Giuseppe made all of the pizza himself.

Giuseppe at work

Giuseppe at work

La Pizza

I sampled 4 pizzas. This is how they were listed on the menu:

Margherita:IMG_0063

Antichi pomodori di Napoli, fior di latte dei Monti Lattari, olio extravergine d’oliva del Vesuvio “Villa Dora”

Scarolella:IMG_0067

Scarola (indivia) del Vesuvio, fior di latte del Monti Lattari, alici di Cetara, olive nere del Vesuvio, capperi di Salina, olio extravergine d’olio D. O. P. “Colline Salernitane di Torretta”, granella di nocciole.

Primavera:IMG_0073

Fave e germogli del Vesuvio, ricotta salata, pancetta, fior di latte dei Monti Lattari, olio extravergina d’oliva “Goccio di Natura” del Benevento az. agr. D’ Assisi

Montanara (pizza fritta):IMG_0076

Pomodorino del piennolo del Vesuvio, mozzarella di bufala Campana D. O. P., olio extravergine d’oliva del Cilento D.O.P. “Monzo” of Pietra BiancaIMG_0081

We also had fried pasta balls and potato croquettes.IMG_0143

Among the wines I tasted and drank was the Gragnano 2015 “Otto uve” Penisola Sorrentina from Salvatore Martusciello. It is made from Aglianico, Piedirosso and Sciascinoso. This is a red sparkling wine that is a favorite in the Naples area with pizza.

Le Parùle alone is worth the trip, but to make a day of it, next time I will combine it with a tour of the ancient Roman city Herculanum destroyed by the famous eruption of Mont Vesuvio on August 24th 79 AD.

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Carnival Lasagna and Carnival Pizza in Naples

 

We arrived in Naples but our luggage did not. When we arrived at the hotel, the room was not ready. No room and no luggage. So, naturally, we went for pizza at da Ettore, Via Santa Lucia 56.   We had not been here for a number of years but Michele had always liked the pizza and it was not far from the hotel.IMG_9647

Although there is a lot of buzz in Naples now about all the hot new pizza places, Da Ettore is traditional Neapolitan pizza at it best. IMG_9646We started with fried zucchini flowers, which were batter fried and unstuffed. Delicious. Then I had the pizza margarita.IMG_9645

Michele had the margarita with bufala mozzarella. Both were light and judiciously sauced with tasty tomatoes and good cheese.

Osteria Della Mattonella Via G. Nicotera 13. Since it was Carnevale in Naples, every restaurant was serving Lasagna di Carnevale, a Neapolitan interpretation of the classic pasta, layered with sausages, tiny meatballs, ricotta, hard cooked eggs and cheese.IMG_9648

Michele said it was just like the one her grandmother use to make. A very old fashioned restaurant, the walls here are covered in tiles and photos of Neapolitan film stars, such as Toto and Sofia Loren. To reach it, you must take an elevator from the street below, Via Chiaia.IMG_9651

Da Nennella 103 Vico LungoTeatro Nuovo. This is a very popular restaurant because the food is very good and the prices are very low.IMG_9654

I started with Alici Fritti, and then Mezzi Paccheri al Pomodoro Fresco which was wonderful Michele had Palline di Ricotta Fritte and Mezzi Paccheri con Zucca and Provola, pasta rings with squash and smoked mozzarella. On the way out, we were given small plastic chips that we could exchange for caffe and baba. Noisy, busy and a lot of fun, plus the food was very good.IMG_9656

MUU_ Muuzzarella Lounge, Vico 2 Alabardieri This restaurant was around the corner from our hotel and they served mozzarella with meat, vegetables or fish. We had Mozzarella E Soppressata, Fiori di Zucca con Ricotta, and Mozzarella in Carrozza, but the highlight was the Ricotta di latte di bufala with honey, pine nuts and raisins.   I could not stop eating it, slathered on good bread. IMG_9663

La Taverna a Santa Chiara 6  We started with Fried Provola and an assortment of local Cheeses and Salumi. Then I had Fusilli Pasta with Tomato and Ricotta di Fuscella, what is often sold in the US as “basket cheese”, a drier form of fresh ricotta (to die for). Michele had Maccheroncini with Eggplant, Zucchini and Small Tomatoes. Then we shared Grilled Sausages and Friarielli (the local broccoli rabe), and a half liter of Gragnano.IMG_9671

Da Attilio in Spaccanapoli, via Pignasecca 17 In the colorful Pignasecca Market, this small pizzeria filled up quickly at lunchtime. I had the Carnival pizza, star shaped pizza with the points of the crust filled with ricotta. We also shared a Pizza Margarita and Pizza Fresca with arugula and prosciutto.

Ciro a Santa Brigida, Via Santa Brigida 71/73  Our last meal in Naples was particularly memorable. This is a place we return to often. We began with Fried zucchini flowers, which were crisp and flavorful. Then I had the Octopus alla Luciana, with lemon and olive oil and Ziti alle Genovese, ziti with an onion and meat sauce, a Neapolitan classic.

IMG_9682Michele had Linguine with Moscardini (baby octopus) and tiny tomatoes, followed by a Frittura Misto di Pesce, little fish, calamari and shrimp fried in a crispy crust. With it we drank Pallagrello Bianco.

IMG_9684 For dessert I had a classic crème caramel.

 

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Old Barolo, Bordeaux, Champagne and Pizza

Alfonso Cevola, a friend and wine writer from Texas, was in town recently and asked me to meet him for a pizza.  It would be a reprise of a wonderful dinner we had enjoyed two years ago at Keste Pizza and Vino where we ate and talked while drinking Vallana Spanna from the 1950’s.  

 While I looked forward to seeing him again, but there was a problem. That afternoon I was attending a Bordeaux tasting and lunch for the Wine Media Guild at Felidia Restaurant. There were 12 wines to taste followed by four to drink with lunch. Many of the Wine Media Guild members would bring older vintages and I knew it was going to be a great afternoon.  But I looked forward to seeing Alfonso again so we made plans to meet for dinner and I hoped for the best.  As it turned out at my table at lunch we had the 1982, 1986 and 1988 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, 1993 Chateau Lafite Rothschild and the 1975 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste among others as we shared wines with other tables. The wine which was at its peak was the 1975 Lacoste. It was surprising to me that the 1982 Mouton was still too young. But more on these wines in another article.

  I made plans with Alfonso to meet at La Pizza Fresca that night at 7:30 so I would have enough time to recover from lunch. I invited Nicole and Travis a young couple that always bring wines much older than they are.

  At the WMG I was sitting next to Ed McCarthy, co–author of the Wine for Dummies books with his wife, Mary Ewing Mulligan, MW. Ed said that Mary was away on a press trip so I invited him to join us for dinner.

 After the WMG lunch there were some open bottles with wine still in them at our table, among them Lafite 93, Lynch Bages 1996 and 2000 and two bottles of Clerc Milon 2004 and 2006 I took them along for the others to taste at dinner.

 Travis and Nicole arrived with a bottle of Champagne Grand Cru Godmé Pére et Fils Brut Millesime 2000 and the 1961 and 1964 Barolo from Fontanafredda. Ed brought a bottle of Champagne Benoit Lahaye Grand Cru Essentiel NV and I contributed the 1988 Grato Grati, a de-classified Chianti Rufina. I wanted Alfonso to taste the Grato Grati and really wanted to bring the ‘82 but somehow I picked up the 1988. It did not matter since the wine was drinking very well.

 Both the 1961 and 1964 were in very good condition. 1964 was a great vintage in Barolo and it was in very good condition and might have a “few” years in front of it. The 1961 was at its peak and I really enjoyed it with my pizza Margarita!

 I just returned from a Crystal cruise of the Greek Islands and Turkey with Michele.  More on the trip, my on board wine tasting lecture, and how to make the perfect Martini in a future article!

 

 

 

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