Category Archives: Pizza Restaurants

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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Filed under Giuseppe Pignalosa, Gragnano, Gragnano OttoUve, Le Parule, Pizza, Pizza Restaurants

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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Filed under Carnival Lasagna, Ciro a Santa Brigida, Da Attilio, Da Ettore, da Nennella, La Taverna a Santa Chiara, MUU_ Muuzzarella Lounge, Naples, Osteria della Mattonella, Pizza, Pizza Restaurants

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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Filed under Barolo, Bordeaux, Champagne, French Red, Italian Wine, Pizza and Wine, Pizza Restaurants

Neapolitan Pizza and BYOB

 

A Mano, a pizzeria/restaurant in Ridgwood, New Jersey announced that they would be hosting a pizza making demonstration with two of Naples’ greatest pizzaioli, Antonio Starita of Starita a Materdei in Naples, and Roberto Caporuscio of Keste in NYC. Roberto is from the Naples area and trained with Antonio in Naples.  This was a demo I did not want to miss, so along with several friends, we reserved right away. On the day of the demo, over 150 people gathered at the restaurant.  We found our friends, took our seats, and had just enough time for a glass of wine before the demo began. Both Roberto and Antonio were assisted by Adolfo Marletta of La Spaghetta in Naples.

Roberto Caporuscio of Keste needing the dough

 Roberto began by explaining how he makes his dough.  He said that the flour he prefers is a high quality one manufactured by Caputo in Naples.  He uses only their “double zero” flour, which has less gluten in it so that it is easier to stretch.  He uses a special type of mixer that kneads the dough gently.  He demonstrated how to knead the dough by hand.  Then he shaped it into little balls weighing about nine ounces for each pizza. He did this by holding it with one hand and with the other shaping it the same way one would when making mozzarella. 

Antonio Strarita putting the finishing touches on the pizza

Antonio and Roberto mentioned that they had just returned from the Pizza Fair in Las Vegas. Someone in the audience asked who had won the pizza tossing event.  Both men looked puzzled.  Roberto said that they don’t toss the pizza in the air in Naples, while Antonio shook his head and with his hand made a slight back and forth movement saying very softly, mai (never).  They explained that rough handling ruins the dough. 

Margarita

 

Antonio then demonstrated how to shape the dough into a flat disk. He took a ball of dough and gently stretched it in four easy motions, rotating it and folding the edge toward the middle. Next he added pureed Italian canned tomatoes, mozzarella, and a touch of olive oil.  After it was placed on the peel, he stretched the disk out so that it almost doubled in size. He quickly slid the pizza into the wood burning oven and about a minute or so later it was done. The result was perfect Neapolitan style Margarita pizza. Margarita is the queen of pizza, there is no king.

The " Lemon Pizza"

 

I asked Antonio if he would make us his famous “lemon pizza”. This pizza is topped with smoked provola (smoked bufala mozzarella) and thin slices of lemon. I had tasted this pizza once before, when Antonio had been at Keste. It was so good that I had to have it again. He was only too happy to do it. It was as good as I remembered it and went very well with the wine we were drinking.

I then asked him to make another pizza of his choice. He made one of the best marinara pizzas that I have ever had. Roberto told us later that Antonio’s secret is to add a touch of pecorino cheese and a little oregano.

Calzone

 We also enjoyed the little fried calzone filled with ricotta.

 The wines

Most townships in NJ do not allow wine, beer or liquor to be sold in restaurants so we took advantage and brought the following wines.

 Barolo Riserva 1999 100% Nebbiolo Monchiero. This wine was ready to drink. I believe the 1999 was a vintage that can be drunk after 10 years. It had all the Nebbiolo characteristics and went very well with the food as did all the wine.

 Vino Spanna Cantina Castello di Montalbano 1964 Vallana. 1964 was a great vintage in Piemonte. On many of the older bottles of Vallana they have Castello this or that, but the Castellos never existed and with the DOC are no longer on the label. Spanna is the local name for Nebbiolo in this area of Novara in Piemonte. This wine is Nebbiolo with the possible addition of Aglianico! In Italy’s Noble Red Wines, Sheldon Wasserman states that  “Vallana is a master blender…Rumor has it that he used to blend Aglianico from Basilicata into his wines to give them the body and strength that they needed to age and develop.” Wasserman felt that when they stopped doing this, the wines were not as good. Today the wine must be at least 85% Spanna with the possible addition of Vespolina and Bonarda. I am happy to report that I have tasted more recent vintages of the Vallana wines and they have almost come all the way back even without the Aglianico. Tom Maresca gives a full report on the Vallana wines: Vallana: An Old Favorite Returns

 Barbaresco 1967 Produttori del Barbaresco 100% Nebbiolo. This is one of the oldest co-ops in Italy and possible the best. This is also the oldest bottle I have tasted which was not a single vineyard. The label was not the same as the one they use today. This was everything that an old Barbaresco should be and more.

 Barolo Riserva 1967 Borgogno.  This is a great wine. I have had many older bottles of Borgogno Barolo and they age very well. All those aromas that I love in old Barolo were there-faded roses, tar, tea, leather and mushroom.

  Burgundy 2001 Hospices de Nuits Laboure-Roi 100% Pinot Noir. This was the last wine and it did not disappoint as we sat sipping it and talking about the great pizza, great pizza makers (i pizzaioli) and Naples.

 It was a great evening at A Mano and I wanted to start making plans to go back to Naples and visit Starita a Materdei. In the meantime, since I live in NYC I will go to Keste when I want great pizza.

Join Roberto, Michele and me for a pizza tour of Italy www.loveofpizzatour.com

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Filed under Calzone, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian Wine, Neapolitan Pizza, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Pizza Restaurants