I read about this promotion on Slice NY & decided to make a reservation for early this week, as I was to be in NY on business.
After an exchange of emails with Giulio Adriani, plus a call to the restaurant, I discovered that the promotion had ended as of Feb 28-- I was looking for a march 4th slot.
After sending one final email apologizing for getting the dates wrong, I was pleasantly surprised when Giulio replied, graciously offering to make an exception for me. I met him at the Park Ave location on Monday night, where he invited me to join him at a table. I ordered an antipasto (grilled octopus-- excellent), some wine, and the pizza that I would make when the time came.
A self –described “dough fanatic”, he patiently answered my amateur questions & explained a bit about his process.
He spent a little more than an hour with me.
A few things I learned:
He uses a "mother dough" to produce a 24 room-temp bulk fermented dough, which is then portioned about 4 hours before service.
The dough, which was incredibly soft, is about 70% HR; caputo 00, of course; has 3%salt...
I learned alot just by getting my hands on the dough.
After asking me about my own dough making & oven (2stone grill) temp, he suggested that I stick to 62% or lower, given the temps i have available, and increase my salt to 3% from my normal 2.5%.
the dude LOVES his stefano ferarra oven.. His joints also have both Acunto & Marra, but he said the SF are his favorites..
As you might imagine, he was VERY specific about how things should be done.
"use fresh yeast!"...
refrigerator for dough..."never!"
salt: at least 3%. he says keste is even higher, 3.8%...
His dough opening technique is very gentle-- basically a slap & stretch, but slap as he demonstrated is kind of a misnomer...
He stressed the importance of pressing the dough with almost the entire length of the fingers, not the tips...
Working the air gently towards the rim to create a puffy cornichone...
the spoonful of crushed tomato has to be spread exactly so.... I have to get one of those round spoons!
after lifting the pizza off the oven floor to spin it, he was adamant that it be replaced EXACTLY where it was, saying the humidity prevented burning.
My somewhat clumsy attempt, with Giulio micromanaging my hands, resulted in a decent pie. I chose the Napoletana- basically a marinara with anchovies.
his mozz was very wet... they make it in house.
I asked him about some of his favorite pizzas: he likes Keste, Motorino, Co., Bianco, & Mozza; for a slice he admires Joe's.
He also was very open about which NP NY area pies "suck", in his estimation-- though I will refrain from naming names.
He made a point of saying that when NP is done poorly, it is "really bad.."
Before he left he sent me a montanara-- which was exceptionally tasty, though I couldn't finish it.
Giulio mentioned that there was a lot of interest in the sessions at the Bowery location, so they will appear again in the future.
He also mentioned possibly doing other classes for "non-professionals".
During our conversation it emerged that he had been through Italian sommelier training, and as I am in the in the wine trade, we had something to talk about besides pizza.
Overall I found him to be an interesting & dynamic fellow-- his next plan is to leave NY --"too hard on you", he said. His goal is to be up & runnning in LA in a year or so.