Perfect pizza.. could be just grab a price-offer pizza off the supermarket shelf to keep you going while you box-binge or carefully select your favourite topping at your favourite restaurant..or, make your own pizza, just the way you want it, for which having a pizza oven is a help.
There many different ways to deciding what makes a pizza perfect but at the most recent National Pizza Awards the Best Pizza in the UK was revealed to be at a restaurant in South London’s Peckham area.
Mike’s Peckham was crowned winner at the Awards, with their winning Roman-style Dondini pizza by the slice, cooked by chef Francesco Canzani.
Italy offers a wide range of cured meats to choose from for a pizza perfect topping..salami, prosciutto, ‘nduja, and more. Salami is made of pork, beef, veal, horse, poultry or game with pepperoni being one of the best-known of the more spicy varieties of salami.
“Pepperoni is characteristically soft, slightly smoky, and bright red in colour, limiting its ingredients to cured pork and beef seasoned with paprika or other chili pepper.”
Among the most popular salamis there are, for instance, salami Milano (Milan); Felino salami (from the village of Felino), highly valued for its quality; and salami Napoli (Naples), which contains beef and is spicier.
A delicious wild boar salami is produced by artisan experts at Gelli Salumi, near Siena in Tuscany, using finest quality meat and aromatic herbs.
There is also a Hungarian variety of this sausage, highly valued internationally and is made primarily with pork seasoned with spices.
A winning pizza
Mike’s winning pizza featured “in-house ‘nduja, roasted corno (sweet) peppers dressed with white balsamic vinegar, house-pickled jalapeños (chili peppers), sheep’s milk ricotta (whey cheese) and finocchiona (fennel) salami.”
The Dondini dough is made up of Tipo 2 Buratto, a stoneground spelt and emmer (low-gluten) flour, “cold-proofed for 24 hours, shaped and then cold-proofed for a further 24 hours, topped with Mike’s tomato sauce.”
Pizza was first invented in Naples, Italy as a fast, affordable, tasty meal for working-class Neapolitans on the go but pizza actually didn’t gain mass appeal until the 1940s, when immigrating Italians took their classic slices to the United States.
Mike Davies, co-owner of Mike’s Peckham, said:
“It’s a little bit different from the other kinds of pizzas that were in the final.”
“Roman-style pizza – especially pizza Italia, which is the kind of pizza that we make – is really not an old tradition; it’s probably about 40 years old.
“Neapolitan pizza has obviously been made for a lot longer than that.
“The thing about Roman as a tradition is that there are less rules, so it means that we can be a bit more flexible with toppings.
“You’ll find things that you wouldn’t necessarily find on a more classic pizza.”
Pizzas from Naples
These days pizza is so popular around the world that many different countries claim that they invented it..How did pizza get its name?
It seems that Pizza could come from the Greek word “pitta” meaning “pie”, or the Langobardic word “bizzo” meaning “bite”.
The word was first recorded in a Latin text dated 997 in Italy where it stated the bishop of the Italian town Gaeta was to receive “duodecim pizze” or “twelve pizzas” on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.
In 1598 It was entered into an Italian-English dictionary as “a small cake or wafer.”
Master Roman pizza maker Gabriele Bonci says “For something so simple, made of such few ingredients, the variety – and difference in quality – is amazing.
“A key to a pizza being perfect is that it has vibrant colours, which show that the ingredients used are fresh and cooked well.
For example, tomatoes should be a vibrant red because when tomatoes are old, they tend to get a bit dark and give off too much acidity and saltiness.”
The thin and thick (Sicilian) types of base crust are well-known but also often available are cracker (crunchy) and stuffed (with cheese, olive oil and garlic).
Compared to a Neapolitan style, a New York style crust is thicker and is baked for a significantly longer period – roughly 15 to 20 minutes on average.
Cheese types used in pizza vary but their meltability is one key factor with another essential capability being able to turn golden-brown without burning.
Stretchiness, showing visible strands when pizza slices are pulled apart and milk fat content making it denser, helping it stretch and melt, are also necessary for the pizza to turn out perfectly.
In Gibraltar and the local Campo area the search for a perfect pizza can involve plenty of choices offered by the many pizza-providers.
Domino’s in Gibraltar says that second only to their pepperoni pizza is “one of our favourite Domino’s pizza toppings, a delicious combo of tender chicken breast strips, smoky bacon, onions, green and red peppers topped with our signature tangy BBQ sauce.”
Also in Gibraltar, 4 Stagioni offers “great pizzas, salads and more Italian food than you can eat, with everything made fresh.”
Mamma Mia includes on their menu hot and spicy calzone, an oven-baked folded pizza.
At Mamma de Napoli in La Linea, owner Monica explains that “our focaccia garlic-bread, a flat leavened oven-baked Italian bread, similar in style and texture to pizza, and in some places called “pizza bianca” is one of our most popular side-dishes.
In fact we often give the garlic-bread as a surprise special to our customers with their orders on our 2x and 3x big pizza special offers, which means that everyone’s meal can work out for as little as 5 euros each.
The delivery service we provide to customers is fast and friendly – together with the products we use, for example, the mushrooms, onion, tomatoes and all the other fresh products we need are delivered regularly during the week, we ensure that we provide a perfect pizza experience, whether enjoying dining in our restaurant or at home! ”
Don Giovanni Pizzeria, also in La Linea, offers 47 different types of pizza, in standard or family size, including an anchovies’ topping special.
In Sotogrande, Lombardo’s has been providing an authentic Italian restaurant experience since Enzo and Sara Lombardo established their restaurant in 1989, now also co-run by son Stefano.
“The food was exquisite and the atmosphere was great. The best Italian food outside of Italy!”, says one of the many happy customer reviews.
Pizza is definitely a main item on Lombardo’s menu but so also is the antipasti, the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal.
Typical ingredients of a traditional antipasto include cured meats, olives, peperoncini, mushrooms, anchovies, artichoke hearts, various cheeses, pickled meats, and vegetables in oil or vinegar.
In addition to the full range of these treats to be enjoyed on a traditional Italian menu, enjoying the pizzas, perhaps especially the spicy chorizo topping pizza, while dining al fresco in the Andalusian courtyard, the search for a pizza perfect experience can be considered completed, perfectly.
Jon Lewes 2021 @clicgibraltar