Hi Bill and all,
First of all, I wouldn't call you an aspiring artisan--you are one!
As for what is my forte? I can make and teach others how to make hundreds of different variations of pizza ranging from tradtional pizza varieties from Italy (not just Neapolitan) to all kinds of American styles. That being said, here is what I don't do: pizza that involves any kind of additives, conditioners, preservative, transfats or artificial ingredients or extenders. People come to me for traditional kinds of pizza--for old fashioned Lombardi-Totonno-Patsy-Pepe style pizza, for traditional deck oven pizza like a de Marco pizza, for "gourmet pizza" and especially for specialty pizza development. I've been teaching hands-on artisan style pizza for nearly 20 years. I am also profecient with pan pizza, deep dish, stuffed pizza, pizza dolci, calzones, strombolis--pretty much anything and everthing as long as it is made with pure ingredients, and some where along the line--by hand. I may know all about industrial pizza, but that is certainly not my forte--and I am proud of that fact.
It is really time for me to get a book out.
But at the end of the day, the pie that I do for myself, that is my personal passion is a Lombardiesque formula that is baked in a wood-fired oven. Pure and simple: Certified organic flour at 12% protein, 65 % hydration, sea salt, & IDY. I use the reposo method to mix my dough and I let it rest 30 minutes (for a 40 pound batch) and finish it at low speed for about 5-8 minutes--until it just comes smooth with a Hobart P660. I dump the dough into a bulk dough container and let it proof at room temperature for 12 hours, then it is scaled and formed and refrigerated in trays for another 24 hours before it is used. It lasts 36-48 hours. I use a straight mix, slow rise and get excellent spring, open hole cell structure, crunchy outer crust and deep wheat flavor out of my crust. What I am producing now is truly the best pizza in every way--or at least until I begin messing with it again. As I've said in the past, I look at making pizza like creating a piece of art, I'm always tinkering with it, always looking to make it better, always learning something that makes it that much better--even if it is only splitting hairs.
I will take some pictures of some of my pizzas in the restaurant oven for the artisan article I'm writting for PMQ, so I will post those so you can see--they don't look much different from yours. You'd have to taste them to see what they are really like.
Nizza La Bella (my place) is located in Albany CA, just outside of Berkeley in the East Bay, over the bridge from San Francisco. My business partner and I are in the process of concentrating more on the pizza aspect of the restaurant and are going to scale it down to a true pizzeria, to be named: Nizza. Our website is www.nizzalabella.com
, it shows the current menu and some pictures of the oven and the store. The new menu really focuses on pizza. Maybe I could figure out a way to post it on here.
If any of you are ever in my neck of the woods, please let me know and come on over for some pie. Heathen consumers of crappy pizza are not welcome! Good then there's more pizza for me