Category Archives: Pizza

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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Filed under Barbaresco, Brunello, Pizza, Pizza Restaurants, Produttori del Barbaresco, Sottocasa, Uncategorized

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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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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Pizza with Roberto Caporuscio: Tipo 1 and Tipo 00 Flour

On the evening of our planned tasting at Keste Pizza & Vino Bleecker Street comparing pizzas made with Tipo 1 flour to Tipo 00, I made sure to arrive early so that I could have an opportunity to discuss the differences in the flour with the master pizzaiolo, Roberto Caporuscio.

Roberto is now using Caputo Tipo 1 flour, which the company describes as follows. “It is an historic flour by aroma, color and flavor. It has a high protein index of 13 and is made from a perfect selection of the best variety of grains with all the richness of wheat germ. Type 1 is suited for direct and indirect dough making with a longer rising time.”

Roberto pointed out to me that the dough made from Tipo 1 is slightly beige in color because the flour contains specks of wheat germ, while Tipo 00 is completely white.

“Tipo” refers to the fineness of the milling.  Tipo 00 is the finest grade of flour milled in Italy and has a consistency and color similar to fine white powder. It is made from soft wheat with a 12.5% protein content. Since 00 has less protein it contains less gluten. And it makes dough that is easier to stretch.

Tipo 1 is less refined because it contains a greater amount of bran, the outer part of the grains of wheat, as well as the wheat germ. Tipo 1 is packed with fiber, mineral salts and vitamins. Roberto said it has a higher nutritional value and therefore it is better for you,  lighter and easier to digest. He also likes it because it can ferment and rise longer than Type 00.

He also said that Tipo I  has about 80% hydration ratio and Tipo 00 has about a 60% hydration ratio. The ratio is the amount of water to the amount flour in the dough. This effects how the pizza rises in the oven.

Roberto said that up until the 1960’s pizza in Naples was made with Tipo 1 flour because they did not have the milling techniques to produce 00. Once they did, they switched to 00. This may be the why Caputo calls Tipo 1 “historical flour”.

I asked Roberto if he would mix the flours to make the dough for his pizza. He said never, one or the other, no mixing.

When everyone arrived Roberto asked if we were ready for the pizza challenge and we all said we were. There were 6 of us, the perfect number for pizza. Roberto said he would make one pizza Margherita using Tipo 1 and one using Tipo 00. Our job was to guess which was which and decide which we liked better.

Tipo 00

We tasted the first one and had some discussion and then tasted the second one. Without much effort, we all guessed correctly which was which and we all liked the one made with the 00 flour better.

Tipo 1

The consensus was that the 00 pizzas had a lighter, puffier crust and better flavor. They conformed to our idea of what Neapolitan pizza is supposed to be and the dough complemented the toppings. The Tipo 1 pie was very good , but we all preferred the 00 pies.

Roberto also made some excellent pizza for us using Tipo 1 as follows: 

Fontina Valle d’Aosta, porcini mushrooms and prosciutto

 

Stracciatella (mozzarella), anchovies, fresh lemon and basil

Figs, stracciatella and caciocavallo

Padrino pizza made with mild soppressata, Ragusano cheese, Gaeta olives and a drizzle of chili oil

Napoletana pizza made with tomato, anchovy and oregano.

It was a very interesting and informative evening and thanks to Roberto for taking the time to speak to us and  make all of the pizza himself!

 

 

 

 

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Pizza with Roberto Caporuscio and Tipo 1 Flour

About a month after returning from Naples, I went with some friends to Keste Wall Street for pizza.  Roberto Caporuscio, the owner and master pizzaiolo, wasn’t there when we arrived, but we ordered a few pizzas.  As I ate, I realized that something was different.  The pies did not taste the same as the last time we were here. Everyone agreed with me.  Had the ingredients changed or was it because the pizzamaker was different?

When Roberto arrived I told him that I thought the pizzas were different. He said he changed the type of flour. In the past he he used  Type Double Zero flour but now he uses  only Type 1 flour.  Roberto said he believed that Type 1 flour was healthier because it makes a lighter pizza that is more digestible. We made a date to come back again and Roberto said he would be sure to be there and would personally make all the pizza for us using Tipo 1 flour so that we could give him our opinion.

We went to Keste this week and Roberto was  already there.  I went to watch him make the pizza.

He showed me the dough and I noticed it was a very light beige and it had tiny specks in it. Robert said the specks were wheat  germ because Type 1 flour is less refined than the pure white Double Zero.  The wheat germ is what adds to its nutritional value.

Robert made the following pizzas for us using  Caputo Tipo 1 flour:


Bianca Romana focaccia filled with mortadella, pistachio cream and caciocavallo cheese

Pizza Pasquale (Pizza Fritta), named after Pasquale Torrente, master chef at Ristorante “il Convento” because of his skill in frying. The dough was deep fried using a special sunflower  oil containing rosemary. The fried crust is topped with homemade stracciatella cheese, anchovies and fresh lemon.

Rodi the topping is a spread made with anchovies, and white bread soaked in limoncello, with slices of lemon, basil and buffalo mozzarella

Regina Margarita made with buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce 

Pizza Noci and Zucchine, topped with a spread made with walnuts and  mascarpone with baby zucchini and smoked buffalo mozzarella

Padrino mild soppresata, cacciocavallo ragusano, chili oil and Gaeta olives.

Even though some of the combinations on the pizza did not look like they would work they were all excellent. The problem was with the margarita pizza.  After I explained this to Roberto he invited me back again this time to Keste and Vino on Bleecker St. He would make one Margarita using Type 1 flour and one using Type 00 and we would have to guess which was which and which one we liked better. He would also more thoroughly explain the difference between the two flours. I am always up for a pizza challenge.

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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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Return to Sorbillo on the Bowery NYC for Pizza

I went to Sorbillo Pizzeria on the Bowery in NYC when it first opened.  Together with a friend, Michele and I had  three different pizzas. Michele liked them better than I did, but even she did not think they were that good. Then last month I was invited by Roberto Caporusio of Keste Wall Street to celebrate Neapolitan pizza being granted World Heritage Status by the United Nations. Roberto invited pizzaioli from NYC and other parts of the country.

Pizzaioli: Pietro Nesi, Antonio Esposito and Geggè Cozzolino

I noticed that one of the pizzaioli was from Sorbillo on the Bowery in NYC. I watched him as he made a pizza and when it came out of the oven I went over and had a slice or two. It was wonderful and I asked him his name and he said it was Geggè Cozzolino and he was from Naples. I told him next time I come to Sorbillo I wanted him to make my pizza. He said he would, but I should not come on Monday as it is his day off.

Yesterday Michele and I and 3 friends went to Sorbillo for lunch and Geggè made the pizza for us.  It was wonderful.

Geggè

Geggè with the Margarita

 

The Margarita — classic Neapolitan pie with tomato, mozzarella fior di latte and basil.

Folded pizza stuffed with escarole, olives, cheese and pine nuts.

Pizza with Pancetta and Nduja, a spicy sausage, and cheese

Bologna style, with Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, tomatoes and mozzarella.

Other than the Margarita, we let Geggè decide which pizzas to make for us.  Everybody agreed on how good they were and we will be going back soon.

We brought our own wine and it was a perfect combination with the pizzas.  A Toscana Rosso, Fontefossoli  2014, the wine is made from 60% Montepulciano and 40% Ciliegiolo and the vineyard is certified organic. This is an easy drinking wine with nice red fruit aromas and flavors. The producer is Ceccherini.

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