Pizza in 2024

Pizza has evolved in Italy, try it again!

I’ve Been in Italy for a month now. I’ve eaten pizza twice, once in Rome and once in Aulla. I was blown away both times.

Think about it, the boot is full of flavors, salted, aged and hung. These need bread to tone down the intensity and salt, which you may think is easy-peasy—but no, fermentation, controlled by alchemists in white aprons can alter flavors, textures and our ability to digest food made from grains. It’s not easy.

And all of these Italian specialties came together twice in a row for us. Pizza can be called gourmet these days. You can dress up to eat it. Live dangerously.

From its suspected origins as a bit of dough flattened by hand and painted with a thin coat of tomato sauce and given to the poor, pizza has evolved to become a showcase for all those things Italy does well. You can have it topped with the iconic Calabrian spreadable and spicy ‘Nduja, Italy’s finest cooked ham, greens from the garden and nearly whatever you want, as long as it’s not pineapple.

People have worked hard to get the combinations just right; there’s a science to pizza these days. Hurray for that.

pizza aulla
Pizza Brie, with 'Nduja, artichoke, Fiordilatte, and brie from Fabio's in Aulla

What’s on a pizzeria menu these days?

If you’re paying attention, reading the menu and conversing with the waiter can educate you in the art of pizza. For example, at Fabio’s in Aulla the other night, there was a whole menu page devoted to “Gran Biscotto.” So Martha and I are thinking, “what the heck does a big cookie have to do with pizza? Upon learning that Gran Biscotto was ham, Martha immediately turned the menu page. She won’t eat ham so after asking, she went right into ordering something vegetarian on a 5 cereal crust.

While I was playing with the provocative idea of constructing a pig pizza with the crust being a big, fat slice of ham, I felt it might be better to look it up later. So, according to the Internet, Gran Biscotto is considered one of Italy’s best cooked hams, “Cotto” as you might say to the woman at the deli counter who will immediately recognize you want ham and not “crudo” or raw ham, i.e. not prosciutto. The cotto will amaze you in its buttery undertones. It’s not at all like the salty dreck you get in the US.

But get this: Gran Biscotto is made by a company called “Rovagnati” that is located on the Piazza Rovagati in a town called Biassono right next to the Imola racetrack. I mean, you have to be good to have a piazza named after you, right?

In any case, Fabio searched for the top ingredients from all over Italy to top his excellent crust(s). Bravo.

“Wait,” I hear you object, “isn’t Buffalo Mozerella the best?

One must match carefully the usage of the materials. Bufola is a very wet cheese, while Fiordelatte is drier. If you slap some buffalo mozzarella on a pizza and cook it, it will give off liquid and much of its fresh taste, and make a soggy crust.

When I read the menu, there was a pizza that intrigued me. The Enza called for buffola a fin cottura, or the Buffalo Mozarella at the end of cooking. Yes, that’s the way to do it, according to the experts.

The most common mistake of buffalo mozzarella on pizza is to think that it can be put on as is, freshly cut, and directly into the cooking process. This is how you water down the pizza, ruining it without remedy. “For me, buffalo on pizza goes on the way out, I don’t argue,” starts in fourth gear Jacopo Mercuro, a pizzaiolo at 180gr in Rome and a little prince of the Roman revival. “On our pizza it allows you to keep the crispness, because it doesn’t wet it.” — Is buffalo mozzarella on pizza a mistake, and are we all guilty?

An ingredient isn’t always the best unless it fits the situation perfectly.

Where we went to have great pizza that wasn’t Naples

In Rome, near the Rome Ostiense station, we stayed at an art hotel called Hotel Abitart. Adjacent to the east side of the hotel Abitart is Donna Cira, where the pizzas are clouds of fermented goodness upon which float the well-sourced toppings. Read about the experience here.

rome pizza
Pizza Sausage and Friarielli, a classic

In Aulla, where we live half the year, you can get some very fine pizza, as we mentioned above. Just head out to Pizzeria da Fabio at Via Nazionale, 98 54011 Aulla. Happy eating!

More on Food in Italy

Pignoletto Rosso Polenta, Oh My!

Davide Scabin: Innovative Italian Cuisine

Italian Garlic

Spaghetti alla Nerano and its Derivatives

Fava Beans: The Time in Italy is Spring

Confusion on the Menu: A Peachy Fish

Lunigiana Saffron: Terre di Bigliolo

Panettone and Other Christmas Cakes

Pizza in 2024 originally appeared on , updated: Apr 21, 2024 © .

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