Category Archives: Pizza

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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Three Pre- Birthday Celebrations with Wine and Food

The first celebration took place at the Oriental Gardens restaurant in New York Cities China Town

Soft Shell Crabs and they were fantastic!

We started with the Champagne Krug 1990  from the Krug Collection.

Then a fried sole with scallions.

Chablis Grand Cru just great

Puligny- Montrachet needs more time

1979 Chinon excellent

There was more food and wine but I got caught up in the eating and drinking.

 

Next on to La Pizza Fresca

We started with Krug NV

Then Chianti Classico 1971 Riserva Ducale from Ruffino

Pizza Margarita

Chateaueuf-du-Papes 1990 right on the money

Amarone 1967 Bertani

Pizza with Prosciutto

A young man waiting for his pizza

 

Next was Gastronomia Siciliana Norma

Buratta with arugula

Spaghetti with sea urchin (ricci di Mare) was fantastic

Chianti Classico 1996

Pizza with porchetta

Barolo 1989 – barolo at its best 1989 was a great vintage!

 

 

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Pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio Revisited

Interview with a True “Pizzaiolo”, Roberto Caporuscio

CHARLES SCICOLONE (April 18, 2009)

Roberto Caporuscio Presenting his Pizzas
Recently, Roberto Caporuscio opened a new offshoot of his groundbreaking New York pizzeria, Keste.  The new place, known as Keste Wall Street, is located at Fulton and Gold Streets in the trendy Financial District.  It is big, with space for pizza classes and private parties, a full bar and plenty of seating.  But Roberto, and his pizza, have not changed a bit.  Here is what Michele and I wrote about him when we first discovered the original Keste.

With all of the pizzerias here in New York City, we are thrilled to have Pizzeria Keste which is dedicated to making genuine Neapolitan style pizza. Roberto Caporuscio is a true pizzaiolo and Keste raises the pizza bar in this city.

It seemed like only a few moments passed between the time we ordered our pizza Margarita and its arrival sizzling hot at the table.  Light, crisp and full of flavor, Michele said it was the best pizza she had eaten since Naples.   Rosario, one of the owners whom we had met before came by to see how we liked the pizza and introduced us to the pizzaiolo, Roberto Caporuscio.  Roberto, who is a wealth of knowledge about pizza, is from Campania and has a passion for Neapolitan style pizza and trained and worked in Naples.  He has also made pizza in Denver, Chicago, Pittsburgh and NJ, among other places.  He asked us which pizza places we liked in NYC and Naples and we realized that we liked many of the same places. Meanwhile, we had finished eating and Keste was getting busy.  Roberto asked us if we would like to come back to see how he made the pizza from scratch.  We gave him an enthusiastic Yes! And made a date for the following Monday.

Roberto’s experience making pizza in Italy and around the US taught him that despite the common belief, the water did not make a big difference in the finished pie.  The temperature and humidity were more important because these would affect how long the dough takes to rise. He does not use a “biga” starter.  He only uses fresh natural cake yeast that must be kept in the refrigerator.  Dry yeast does not do the job and can leave spots in the pizza. He uses a very small amount of yeast, 1 gram per liter of water, and lets the dough rise very slowly.

Roberto uses “double zero” Antimo Caputo flour in 55 lb bags.  It is made especially for pizza from seven different kinds of wheat. The wheat is ground very slowly so as not to damage the flour and the nutrients.  This flour gives you dough that is easier to stretch and the slow rise gives you more flavor and makes it lighter. Roberto does not put the dough in the refrigerator but leaves it out to rise for 18 to 24 hours.

The flour, water, salt and yeast are mixed in a special machine that has two arms and moves very slowly. The slow movement mixes the dough without heat buildup. It takes about 20 minutes for it to be ready. The dough remains in the machine until Roberto is ready to transfer it to a table where it continues to rise. When it is ready, the dough is shaped into 9.5 ounce balls.  The shaping method is the same for making mozzarella.  The finished balls are put into plastic boxes to rise. Roberto tried to find wooden boxes but did not like any of them. It takes about 20 minutes to shape the mass into individual balls. The finished dough is so soft, you might expect it to stick to your hands, but it does not. Roberto makes sure every ball of dough is perfectly round because any holes or gaps would prevent the pizzas from lying flat in the oven and they would not bake properly.

When it is time to make a pizza, Roberto takes a ball of dough and with his fingers spreads it into a disk. He rotates the disk by quarter turns–it takes less than a minute to reach its final shape. He makes sure that the pizza is not too thin in the middle, if it is the cornicione or rim will be too thick. I have never seen a pizzaiolo in Naples toss the pizza in the air, but I had to ask anyway. Roberto gave me a look and said that the dough is not to play with, it is food!

Next he puts on the sauce, starting in the middle and working in circles toward the edges– not too much sauce in the middle. Buffalo mozzarella is then added and some basil and a touch of olive oil. The wood burning oven is 900 degrees. He stretchers the dough a little more before putting it on the peel. I took out my watch and timed it.  A perfect Pizza Margarita was done in only 45 seconds.  From the time Roberto touches the dough and to the time the pizza arrives at your table is less than five minutes!  Like the classic Neapolitan pizza, it is 9-10 inches and has a crust that is neither too thin nor too thick.  It can be folded in half and then folded again into quarters, without cracking or breaking the crust. Only the edge, called the cornicione, is crisp, though it is also chewy.

Roberto grew up on a farm, and would milk the cows and make cheese. He told us a story of feeding the cows tomato skins so the milk had a pink tinge to illustrate for us that what you feed the cows determines what the cheese will taste like. He loves cheese and uses different types on his pizzas.  He says that he varies his pizza toppings as long as they make sense. Once a customer asked him to make a pizza with pineapple as a topping.  He considered it an insult and refused.   Would you have sushi and ask the chef to put Mozzarella on it?

In addition to the superb Margarita, we also tried Roberto’s Roman style pizza made with thin sliced potatoes, and the Mastro Nicola which is Roberto’s interpretation of the earliest Neapolitan pie, before tomatoes were introduced to Italy.  It was topped with pecorino, herbs and lard.

With all of the pizzerias here in New York City, we are thrilled to have Pizzeria Keste which is dedicated to making genuine Neapolitan style pizza.  Roberto Caporuscio is a true pizzaiolo and Keste raises the pizza bar in this city.

Here is a photo of Roberto Caporuscio at Keste Wall Street at the recent Strada di Mozzarella presentation for pizza Napoletana.

 

Keste’ Pizza & Vino
271 Bleecker St
New YorkNY 10014
(212) 243-1500‎

Keste’Wall Street

66 Gold Street, NY, NY

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Haccademia: A Great Pizzeria on the Road to Mt. Vesuvius

Last year I was in Benevento for Campania Stories, a tasting of the wines of Campania for journalists. My friend, the wine writer Tom Hyland, introduced me to Marina Alaimo a wine and food writer from Naples and we spoke about wine and pizza. When I told her that Michele and I would be in Naples in February she said that we must contact her and we did.img_2566

Marina picked us up and took us to Haccademia, a pizzeria on via Panoramica 8 in Terzigno less than half an hour outside Naples on the way to Pompeii. Marina told us that the road that passes in front of the restaurant leads directly to the top of Vesuvio.

Maria Consiglia Izzo, a food blogger and photographer, and the sommelier Fosca Tortorelli joined us at the restaurant to sample the pizza. Marina introduced us to the owner, Aniello Falanga and his son Nicola.

Maria said Aniello is a self-taught pizzaiolo. He has devoted his attention to studying the techniques of raising and maturing the dough in order to make it more digestible and light as a cloud.

Aniello and Nicola at work

Aniello and Nicola at work

Aniello is very passionate when it comes to speaking about pizza. He is an advisor to pizza places both in Italy and abroad and taught the art of pizza making for many years. He has won many awards and is mentioned in Gambero Rosso and Slow Food Vesuvius. He even goes to elementary schools in the Naples area to teach young children how to make pizza.

Aniello with his Pizza Fritta

Aniello with his Pizza Fritta

Aniello began working as a pizzaiolo in 1985 and opened his own pizzeria in 1989. For 20 years he had a pizzeria in Pompei. He has just received the stamp of approval # 631 from Association Vera Pizza Napoletana which certifies authentic Neapolitan pizza.

On Thursdays and Fridays, Aniello makes a special pan pizza. For this he uses flour made of ancient varieties of grains, which he has researched. img_2540The flour is made from variety of grain from the hills of Beneventane and is stone ground. Unfortunately, our visit was on a Wednesday so we did not get to try this pizza, though we did try several others.

 

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Aniello explained each pizza that we were served.

They are all traditional Neapolitan pizza. The ingredients he uses reflect the area around Vesuvius.img_2542

Four Bocconcini di Montanara: little fried rounds of pizza dough topped with ragu of beef, baccala, tomato and mozzarella, and anchovies and burrata.img_2545

Pizza Margarita antichi pomodori di Napoli, fiore di latte di Tramonti, basilico, olio evo del Vesuvio. My favorite pizza and it was Pizza Margarita at its best.img_2548

Pizza with winter quash, guanciale, pumpkin seeds and mozzarella. Michele and I have never had a pizza before with this topping and it was so good.img_2554

Pizza Luisella: scarola Napoletano, fiore di latte Tramonti, olive nere itrane, capperi di Salina, alici di Cetara, pinoli tostati e olio di Vesuvio. This may have been Michele’s favorite because in contained all the flavors of Campania and was so fresh tasting.img_2555

Montanara mozzarella, tomato and basil-topped fried pizza at its best. Aniello told us that after frying the dough and adding the toppings, he places it briefly in the oven to melt the cheese and enhance the crispness.img_2560

Pizza fritta with ricotta and ciccoli di maiale. This was so light it was difficult to tell it was fried, and the filling was creamy and well seasoned.

Fosca

Fosca and Marina

The first wine  we drank was selected by Fosca and the second by Marina

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Fosca suggested we start with the Caprettone Spumante Method Classico 100% Caprettone from Casa Setaro. This was an excellent choice. I met Massimo Setaro in Rome last October. See https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/a-taste-of-vesuvius-in-rome-casasetaro-winery/img_2546

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Rosso “Vigna Lapillo” Sorrentino made from 80% Piedirosso and 20% Aglianico. Marina picked this wine because the winery is only a few minutes away and we were going to visit it after lunch.

 

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Before we left, Aniello insisted we try his Baba au Rhum. Not too sweet, it was surely the best version of this dessert I have ever eaten and great way to end a wonderful lunch.

 

 

 

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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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Pizza Tour of Naples

 

New York City winters can be brutal, and this one was no exception.  Michele and I wanted to get away, but where to go?  Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean? We have tried them all and found them lacking. Not because of the weather, which was great, but lacking because of the food and wine! So we decided to go where the weather would be better than in NYC and still find great food and wine:  Naples and Rome.IMG_7299

Naples is the most unique of the Italian cities.  It is like one big street fair, there is so much going on all the time. Naples also has a natural beauty.   Mt.Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples are breathtaking.  The Neapolitans are theatrical and dramatic, and of course there is the food. The best pizza is Neapolitan pizza and the best place to have it is, of course, Naples.IMG_7241

It was a beautiful sunny day when we arrived and we decided to go for pizza by the waterfront.  One cannot think of Naples without thinking of pizza.

Gino Sorbillo Pizzeria

Gino Sorbillo Pizzeria

 

We went to Gino Sorbillo-AKA Lievito Madre al Mare, they have 3 locations in Naples.  This one is on Via Partenope overlooking the Bay of Naples. They have a large outside dining area and it was very crowded, everyone wanted to sit outside.  Here is a sample of the menu:

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A big trend in Naples is for the pizzerias to list the source for their ingredients, many of which are organic and artisanally made.  On the menu, a green leaf  showed that the product was Biologica and a snail if it was recognized by “Slow Food”.IMG_7242

Michele had the MargheriTTa Gialla Massimo Bottura, made with tiny yellow tomatoes and bufala milk cheese. These deep yellow tomatoes had a honey-like flavor and were among the sweetest I have ever tasted.
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The next day on the way back from our tour of Naples Underground we stopped at Palazzo Petrucci Pizzeria- San Domenico Maggiore Piazza. They also give the source of the products they use and even the name of their pizzaiolo, Maestro Michele Leo, is listed on the menu.  Next door, they also have an elegant Michelin-starred restaurant, which we did not visit.

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This place was recommended by Maurizio de Rosa, who was born in Naples and is a partner in Prova Pizzeria in NYC.IMG_7264

Michele had a pizza Margherita and I had a fried pizza stuffed with ricotta and cicoli, which are the little crispy bits left after rendering out the lard from pork fat.  IMG_7287

Before we left NYC we went to Don Antonia by Starita and spoke with Roberto Caporuscio, the owner and pizzaiolo. We have known Roberto for a number of years ever since he opened Keste. Roberto said we must go to Pizzeria Starita a Materdei dal 1901.  The owner, Antonio Starita is his mentor and partner in the New York restaurant.  IMG_7282

Our friend food writer Arthur Schwartz, who spends part of each year in Salerno, decided to come to Naples to join us. It turned out there were five of us, Arthur, his partner Bob Harned, and their friend Contessa Cecilia, who drove.IMG_7284

We ordered fried zucchini flowers, arancini and potato croquettes to start. Then we had Pizza Maradona, a fried rolled stuffed pizza, Pizza Mastanicola topped with lard, basil and pecorino, and a Sorrentina pizza made with sliced lemons and provola cheese.IMG_7283

We arrived at 12:30 and when we left there was a long line waiting for a table even though this is a large place.IMG_7290

50 Kalò di Ciro Salvo , Piazza Sannazzaro 201/B. This is the hottest pizza place in Naples right now, the one everyone is talking about.  The pizzaiolo, Ciro Salvo has researched pizza making techniques and insists on a very long slow rise for his dough which results in a tender and more digestible crust.  He uses only the finest ingredients for his toppings.  In Greek, the name Kalo means beautiful and good.IMG_7292

We started with a few fried foods, potato croquettes and frittatine, cheesy pasta shaped into disks and fried, which were excellent.  Then we had a Pizza Margherita and Pizza Porcini with sausages.IMG_7293

If you go here for dinner, it is best to get there early. It is a big place but if you arrive after 8:00 PM you will wait on a long line to get in.
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For the most part the Neapolitans  drink, beer, soda and acqua minerale with their pizza.The wine lists at the pizza places are  for the most part short and the price for a  bottle of wine produced in Campania  is about 18 to 20 euros, about what you would pay retail in the US for the same wine. Among the wines we drank which went very well with where a Coda di Volpe “Amineo” 2013 Cantina del Taburno, Lettere della Penisola Sorrentina 2013  Grotta del Sole, a red sparkling wine and Falanghina Sant’ Agata Dei Gotti 2013 Mustilli.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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