Sam Patti’s motto at La Prima Espresso in the Strip District in Pittsburgh is “Cappuccino Ogni Giorno.” Coffee everyday. Now we are more likely to have coffee daily but not pizza – concordo (I agree) but that does not mean we do not think about having pizza on a daily basis.
“If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
How many times in your life were you unsure about a path, but found that if you picked one it ended up getting you there – okay you define there. In my example, going down the route of pizza once I looked for a new career – well here I am. From backyard pizza maker to working in some of the best pizzeria’s in this city to certified Pizzaiolo by way of Naples, Italy.
I honestly never had a desire to be second best in anything that I attempted. If I was going to learn how to do something, I strived to be near or at the top. I am just wired that way. Call it competitive, but i just say, “game on.” Be relevant.
I have to do it in a lot less time. If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes. The Iditarod is a sled dog race that begins in Anchorage, in south central Alaska, to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast. It covers over 1,000 miles. Well if you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.
Making pizza comes down to one thing – PASSIONE! It is the main ingredient – to try to make every pizza special, to have that person say, “this is the best I have ever had.” One person who has that passion is Anthony at Pizza Taglio. He gave up his job as a lawyer to do what he had dreamt of always doing. He makes every pizza that comes out of that oven. He will talk to you for hours about the process. I was able to deliver an Antico Caputo apron to him on a recent visit, which I obtained at the factory in Naples. He did not hesitate, put it right on, and beamed from ear to ear. That is a guy who loves what he is doing!
I have been fortunate to find a home at Mambo Italia in Sewickley. We really try to be first class. The dough is made daily. We use the ingredients that are required by the AVPN to be designated as Vera Pizza Napoletana.
Additionally, we strive to improve how we do things. We had a nutella pizza, and it was good.
Recently we took it to another level, adding bananas, raspberries, and chocolate drizzle. With the artistic and decorative touch of Ann, we took it to another level!
So I came back from Naples with a greater appreciation for the making of pizza in the traditional way. Seeing that it really has not changed very much over time makes it an artisanal approach. The oven floor is still measured by the palm of the hand.
The truest measure of a great pizza is still the Marinara and the Margherita. Some things should just not be messed with, and I was pretty lucky to have learned that first hand. Look and see if your next pizza has that lightness and puffiness of air in the crest like the picture below.