So my son and I met Jeff as planned, at 12:30 yesterday. He was immediately recognizeable from his Internet site and came around the corner with a warm, welcoming smile. I told him that we had "sneaked in" a day earlier with my sisters and mom, and he seemed truly discouraged that he hadn't been there to meet them as well.
He immediately set to work on making us the first of two delicious quatro Stagioni pizzas (the style, not the flour) so as to let us try a good representation of his craft. Needless to say, all were excellent. The crust is tender, not overly salted, and with a slight tang in the cornicione. Jeff's meats are unlike any other I have ever tasted. The capaccola, pepperoni (about 2 inches across, sliced paper thin), and sopressata were fantastic, and there was another meat I was unfamiliar with, that had an herbal flavor straight out of the hills of Nothern Italy.
Jeff spent two hours talking with me and my son about his restaurant, his poolish, his fermentation methods and his future plans. The conversation was wide-ranging in scope, and Jeff made us feel very welcome. The Varasano's at ATL is slated to open in July. Thank God ATL is a hub for Delta, one of the only 2 airlines flying out of Wilmington, NC!
We had a great chat with Willie Medina, Jeff's kitchen manager while Jeff was busy with other things. Willie is a very talented banconista and pizzaiolo!
As a result of my visit with Jeff, I am re-energized in terms of my devotion to sourdough pizza. I may try a different starter. Currently using the camaldoli. I may also try a slightly higher % of "poolish" in my dough. And I've definitely got to get my fermentation fridge temps stabilized. Even though the sourdough methods is more time-intensive I believe the efforts result in a crust and pie that is just a little bit more unique. And honestly, being the pig I am, I am 110% convinced that I can eat more sourdough pizza than Commercial yeast pizza without feeling full!
Please refer to the videos for images of the finished pies!