This doughy journey commences with fate tip toeing into my scurrying about. I was visiting a friend on South Colorado Boulevard in Denver. On the building next to his office I noticed a sign above an entry way identifying the Italian Institute Ltd.
Italy on some writing assignments and for travel with my daughter, Alexandra. I have dear friends in Italy. I like Italy. Intrigued, I stopped in to visit. I met Maria Chiacchio, the gracious energetic founder of the Institute. I signed up to be on her electronic mailing list. ‘See Italian Institute Ltd., www.ItalianInstitute.com, contact Maria@ItalianInstitute.com.
A month ago I received an email from the Institute informing of a class in the Denver area that would teach how to make authentic Pizza Napoletana. Two classes were offered and they would be hosted at Marco’s Coal Fired Pizzeria, www.marcoscoalfiredpizza.com, one at the downtown Denver location on Larimer Street and the other south of Denver in Englewood near the Denver Tech Center. Two guest pizza makers—pizzaiola—would give the classes, Roberto Caporuscio and ‘Don’ Antonio Starita. I signed up for a class.
Fate leaped in again. My daughter, Elise, works in New York City. She had become friends with Rose Tenant, co-host of America’s Morning Show with Quinn & Rose, XM Satellite Radio, Channel 158, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I was a guest on the Rose and Quinn Show on March 16th. Rose happens to be a friend of Roberto Caporuscio. Rose introduced Elise to Roberto, who owns the renowned pizzeria Keste, located at 271 Bleeker Street in Manhattan. www.kestepizzeria..com.
I traveled to New York City two weeks ago to visit Elise and to be a guest on Fox and Friends, May 9. See video of TV show, http://tinyurl.com/3wfdd2c and video of ‘The Show After the Show’ Show http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/fox-friends/index.html#/v/4684687/after-the-show-show-accepting-responsibility/?playlist_id=163195
We also went to Keste. I met Roberto and his delightful manager, Davide. The pizza was excellent. I had Pizza Bresaola—beef cured in red wine, topped with arugula, olive oil and fresh Bufala Mozzarella cheese. Elise had a mushroom pizza sprinkled with truffle oil. Incredible!! My enthusiasm for my forthcoming pizza class reached concert pitch.
My class was this past Monday at Marco’s Englewood pizzeria. The stunningly educational class showed how to make a sumptuous array of creative and dazzling pizza selections. I share a few of my notes in no particular order. ‘Don’ Antonio has made pizza for the Pope. Roberto had made fresh mozzeralla earlier that day. These men were pizza superstars who took their craft seriously.
The dough is the most vital ingredient, which seems obvious. The issue is why the dough is so vital. The dough used was Antimo Caputo “00” flour milled in Naples. The grinding process is sophisticated and yields grains of exactly equal size. This characteristic allows for more consistent absorption of water and yeast and yields a more elastic and consistent dough. The flour is mixed with cold water, fresh yeast, a little salt and a dash of olive oil.
The making of the dough must take into consideration the ambient temperature and humidity. Delicacy is required to craft the dough. Roberto said that one must handle the dough as one handles a baby. The skilled pizzaiola must ascertain the precise ingredient ratios in order to determine what is called the punto a pasta, the point when the dough is properly made. The dough is a living creation. It is kneaded by hand into a ball, then set aside for an hour, then kneaded again and set aside for eight hours.
The pizza is baked in a coal fired oven. Wood is constantly placed in the oven. The interior temperature is about 900 degrees Fahrenheit. The pizza bakes in about 90 seconds, charring small sections of the dough.
Pizza Napoletana is unique. The dough is light very elastic. The charring yields a rustic almost primitive taste in each bite. Pizzas were made and distributed by Roberto and ‘Don’ Antonio and staff, including Roberto’s lovely daughter, Giorgia, at assembly line speed. The toppings were extraordinary. Pizza Starita had a walnut and pine nut cream sauce with fresh Bufala Mozzerella and zucchini. Another had pistachio cream sauce, Bufala and sweet Italian sausage. Another boasted radicchio cream sauce with Gorgonzola and Bufala cheeses.
Marco invited me to come to his restaurant with my son, Erik, to take a private class and film the pizza process. Erik will take the video and I will post it on the website. Marco, Roberto and ‘Don’ Antonio have added an interlude of beauty and joy to the world. I thank them.