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Offline typicalsam

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Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« on: September 30, 2021, 07:54:25 AM »
With New York off the cards due to covid uncertainty my partner opted for Italy for her 30th birthday celebration. The Amalfi Coast, hmm, there's a place near there I'd love to visit!

Although the majority of our trip was other places up and down the coast, we have direct flights from Scotland to Naples so it made sense to spend a night there. Result.

We were taking the ferry to Capri the following day so stayed at the smart hotel at the tourist harbour, conveniently located actually so only a short walk down to Sobillos by the sea. Not the original Gino Sobillos but its on his website as one of their branches. It was nice to soak up the "we're on holiday by the sea" vibe by having drinks on the vibrant strip at the castel dell'Ovo area before getting pizza.

The pizza was FAST and REALLY good. Maybe a slight eggshell crust. Beautiful salami. I realise I haven't tried enough different neapolitan pizza to really dig in to the subtleties. I can tell why a mediocre pizza is "meh" but I can't quite grasp what makes great pizza so great. Maybe I was jusy too excited at being there to be analytical. Didn't even remember to take pictures until we'd started eating.

Offline typicalsam

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2021, 08:21:50 AM »
The next day I wanted to tick off a real bucket list pizzeria in the name. Of L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele. After some careful googling to make sure it was the right place, we set our route.

What struck me about Naples is its so noisy. I actually thought it was going to be a small place, but walking along the main corso umberto road felt a bit like being in an Italian Manhattan.

We took some side streets and saw a bit of the real Naples, people living life in an old city. Didn't feel particularly sketchy at any point but maybe we got lucky in terms of location and time of day.

Arriving at Da Michele at 12:40 there was already a sizeable queue. Sit in, take away and delivery all fully firing. Separate queues and it was all fairly organised and civil which was nice. As a brit abroad sometimes queueing feels a bit more like a free for all than a fair system!

Green pass or proof of vaccination was required to eat indoors which was checked on the door. We queued for about 40 mins but there was a hatch half way down the queue where you could see into a room with one of the ovens and two piazziolo busy at work.

Despite how busy the place was, the service was attentive and the pizzas were extremely fast. Barely had teo sips of my beer. My girlfriend saw the size of the pizzas and thought two would be too much for lunch, she quickly changed her tune once we started eating. One margherita and one marina.

Actually my first time trying a marinara and it was incredible. The sweet eathy punch of the oregano, the slight tang of the tomatoes, the bite of the garlic and the olive oil to finish it. Coming from a background of more American pizza it seems strange to omit oregano from every other pizza, but the simplicity and balance of the marinara was a real learning experience for me.

The margherita was equally great. The creamy mozzarella being an equal and opposite companion to the tomato.

Both pizzas were thin and very soft. I see why they use wooden peels. It didn't strike me as very high hydration but the dough balls looked very soft when they were opening them. Also, the crust alone was quite salty and had a slight tang I'd attribute to sourdough, although it was fairly subtle.

Offline ebpizza

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2021, 10:18:27 AM »
Sounds like you had a great time.  The Sorbillo’s along the sea is a little more expensive that other places but the location is great, especially at night. I too enjoyed the pizza and is was the same as the one in the historic center.

That’s a good distance to walk to DaMichele, hopefully not too hot.
It does live up to the hype for sure and for me I prefer the larger size Neapolitan pizza.


How long are you in Naples for?

Offline Wario

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2021, 11:41:14 AM »
Thanks for sharing this Typicalsam! Never heard of pizza Marita before, so i read it's half Marinara and half Margherita! Perfect when you cannot choose!

I never been to Naples (yet) but i am reading a book about Neapolitan pizzaioli and they indeed use a moderate hydration in the range of 58%-62% and sometimes even lower. Interesting you mention the salty crust, i noticed this too with pizza's from Sardine and wonder if they don't go higher then 3% salt. Back then i wasn't into baking myself so i didn't care to ask.

So the pizza's are thin in Naples you say. Did you see anyone using a rolling pin?

Have a nice stay!
« Last Edit: September 30, 2021, 11:42:54 AM by Wario »

Offline jsaras

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2021, 11:46:15 AM »
The Cosacca at Da Michele (tomato, sunflower seed oil, grated pecorino, basil) was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. 

BTW, they do not use a sourdough culture and they do not use olive oil.
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Offline typicalsam

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2021, 12:54:29 PM »
Sounds like you had a great time.  The Sorbillo’s along the sea is a little more expensive that other places but the location is great, especially at night. I too enjoyed the pizza and is was the same as the one in the historic center.

That’s a good distance to walk to DaMichele, hopefully not too hot.
It does live up to the hype for sure and for me I prefer the larger size Neapolitan pizza.


How long are you in Naples for?
Very little time it was just flying in and staying overnight before travelling to capri and then salerno! Da Michele was worth the walk and it was worth it just to soak up some of the city atmosphere on our quick stopover

Offline typicalsam

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2021, 12:56:23 PM »
So the pizza's are thin in Naples you say. Did you see anyone using a rolling pin?

Have a nice stay!
Thanks! No rolling pins in sight but I think it's careful hands, a short bake and a wooden peel that allow such thin soft pizzas!

Offline typicalsam

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2021, 12:57:18 PM »
The Cosacca at Da Michele (tomato, sunflower seed oil, grated pecorino, basil) was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. 

BTW, they do not use a sourdough culture and they do not use olive oil.
oh man I wish I tried that one now. Do you think they use mother dough? Or just a long fermentation? It was very flavourful dough.

Offline typicalsam

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2021, 01:16:52 PM »
LONG POST ALERT - apologies in advance for typos

Ok, the car journey was faster than I expected so I didn’t get around to posting about the actual pizza class! The rest of the trip was with family so I didn’t really have time to sit down and write this post with the detail it deserved. Busy week back at work so sitting down now to give this post the time it needs!

A one on one session with Gianni Scotto of Artigiani Scotto in Sorrento. Gianni spent nearly 10+ years in London at Rosso Pomodoro so his English is great which was a significant perk for me!

A short-ish drive over from where we were staying in Salerno, about 90 mins. Most of the road is pretty good single and dual carriageway roads thankfully.

It was a hybrid of a ‘day in the life’ of a pizzaiolo and a pizza class. The first thing we did was use some left over dough to make bread – the oven was still hot enough from the night before to bake a couple of loafs.

We started with a chat about his background and overall approach to pizzamaking, what he would teach me about how HE does things, and that none of it is ‘rules’ but more ‘guidance’ and the key is to learn from others but figure out you’re your own style and preferences.

We then went to the market in the piazza across the road to pick up some fresh ingredients and talked about how its important to use only both local AND in season ingredients (wouldn’t that be nice!?). So walking around cracking lots of jokes with old Italian guys. Someone he knew was trying to flog him either courgette or aubergine but he was insistent that it was too late in the summer for it to be good 😂.

Hmm, then we went back and discussed fermentation, dough recipes, some more modern stuff like using different grains, even hemp powder for a vegan pizza to add some more protein to the flour dough. We also made a dough using the oil from sun-dried tomatoes for a special recipe for another day, but I wasn’t around to try it, sadly. Monitoring the dough at different stages in the mixer, the order to add ingredients, making eyeball adjustments adding more water/flour as required. Talked a bit about where to place the dough for room temp ferment, and how to modify your recipe based on the ambient temperature on the time of year. Even a big sack of flour holds its own internal temperature which is different from the room temp, water, etc. All these variables can affect your fermentation.

His fermentation technique is 12 hours bulk at room temp, 12 hours in balls at room temp, and 12 hours balled in the fridge at 5c IIRC. Then straight to opening and baking. So the balls in the tray look kinda flat but they were really nice to handle.

Next was a lesson on balling dough. Quite similar to what I've seen online, and read here, but with some direct tuition about what to focus on, and what I was doing wrong/could be done better. You're almost trying to capture more air inside the dough ball as you fold it in on itself, which I never thought of. Even tried cutting off a line of dough from the bulk on the bench and balling at the end of the ‘snake’ and ripping it off. Frustratingly difficult to get the right dough ball size, and hard to rip off a clean cut. The guys had a bit of a giggle at me struggling with that, but Gianni was impressed that I had the confidence to try (why the hell not?). What strikes me is everyone just eyeballs the dough balls, never see a pizzaiolo weighing every ball. Mine were all either huge or tiny but I checked a few of Gianni’s and they were within I think 5-10% of the 280 he said they should be.

We did a tomato tasting which was really interesting. I cant remember which is which but we discuss how some are more watery, some have tougher flesh, some are less acidic, some are softer, etc., and the benefits of each. My new favorite are the datterino giallo – either in sea water or in tomato juice. Makes a great topping or even base for a pizza.

We took a mozzarella delivery and did some tasting. I’ve realised I struggle with smoked mozzarella. The smokey flavour and the creamy/fatness just makes me feel like I'm eating smoked mackerel! Interesting to note that fresh mozzarella isn’t always in water. The stuff he got was wet, but just wrapped in paper. I think I’ve seen Italian pizza youtubers getting their cheese packaged in a similar way.

At some point we re-fueled the oven with a couple of logs and talked about the different type of heat, how they travel around the oven to cook a pizza, where you should put the wood (on one side) and where you should put the pizza (on the opposite side). Interestingly, he says in a full-sized oven you should cook maybe max 4 pizzas, and doesn’t agree with people who load up the whole thing.

It was suddenly lunch time and the family arrived to eat. The pizzeria was open for lunch for the first time since the summer season ended (now people are back at work, kids back to school, more people would go into a restaurant in the town for lunch than in summer when everyone is at the beach!).

They spoiled us with some Neapolitan antipasti (all fried! A Scotsman felt quite at home) and a bottle of prosecco. We then did a ‘pizza tasting’ so I made one pizza at a time with Gianni and then sat down with the family to have a slice each (there were 4 of us).

Started with my newfound favorite, the marinara. I realized when I open the dough with the slap technique I stretch it a little too far/heavily. It seems like the correct technique is one hand is on top of the dough and the other one just lifts it up and throws it onto the back of the hand. I was using the 2nd hand to pull and stretch the dough, which I did this first pizza and ended up with a thin spot, so the first pizza ended up a bit misshapen. It still tasted great.

The second pizza was pizza fritta, on Gianni’s insistence. The dough is opened and then lightly fried, before being topped and baked. It wasn’t as heavy as I thought it would be, the dough was soft with a little crunch and a little bit more moist than a non fried dough. Slight taste of oil like ... churros or something. It was a pizza fritta margherita.

Next we had one of my favorites – due pomodori. pomodoro giallo saltato in padella, datterino rosso, buffalo, e pestro di basilico – beautiful. I shaped this one with Gianni’s support, onto the peel, and one shot! Straight into the oven. To be honest I didn’t want to risk burning the pizza so I let him turn it in the oven. Can't quite get the knack of a quick spin and then placing down back in the exact spot so the bottom doesn’t burn. Definitely being more gentle with the dough and working slower is better. I always try and work fast because that's what the experts do! Keep it a little thicker too and use you hand to feel for thin spots as you work it.

Lastly was a pretty heavy one. Sautéed onions, crispy bacon, provolone cheese, walnuts, and buffalo mozzarella cream made from the water of the cheese.  Interesting he warned me – keep the pizza small because the toppings are heavy. A margherita can be bigger but a heavier/wetter pizza needs a thicker base. As this was pizza number 4 it was a bit overwhelming, but very tasty. I’m not sure I could cope with a whole one my self but a perfect finish to a tasting session.

The offered us desert but we stuck to coffee! By this time we were stuffed and it was only 3pm. Gianni and his partner Valeria were very generous, highly recommend if you're in the area to at least try a pizza or consider contacting them for a class. PM for contact details.

Overall I'd say thanks to everyone here - he confirmed much of what I learned from you guys, and having the one on one tuition helped me realized some things wrong in my approach and how to improve my technique. I'd love to have made more pizzas but I couldn't have eaten another bite!

Offline ebpizza

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2021, 08:59:57 PM »
Thanks for the update. Seems like you enjoyed the experience. Only goes to show there are many places off the radar that make good pizza.

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Offline Wario

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2021, 03:52:22 PM »
Very interesting read, i've learned some more about pizza, like the more toppings you use, the smaller the pizza should be and the bottom a bit thicker. Logical when you think about it. I like big pizza's with thin bottoms and sometimes struggle with the prosciutto being to heavy causing the pizza to stick to the metal peel.

The never ending journey continues!

Offline typicalsam

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2021, 04:18:23 PM »
Thanks for the update. Seems like you enjoyed the experience. Only goes to show there are many places off the radar that make good pizza.

Yeah it's hard to tell just judging by a name and trip advisor what a place will be like. There's a lot of modern artisan pizza which I'm not instinctively drawn to. But it was very tasty.

Very interesting read, i've learned some more about pizza, like the more toppings you use, the smaller the pizza should be and the bottom a bit thicker. Logical when you think about it. I like big pizza's with thin bottoms and sometimes struggle with the prosciutto being to heavy causing the pizza to stick to the metal peel.

The never ending journey continues!
Indeed! Having a slightly less thin base had made my pizzas a lot easier to launch but I haven't noticed them being particularly thick or heaby to eat.

Offline Wario

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2021, 05:22:12 AM »
Some of my pizza are just the way i like them, thin in the middle with a nice puffy crust and others come out thick and heavy after the bake to my anointment. Still trying to figure out what causes it since they seem the same when i launch them.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2021, 05:36:22 AM by Wario »

Offline DoouBall

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2021, 10:12:11 PM »
Thanks for the detailed writeup typicalsam! Sounds like a wonderful time and a great learning experience. I would love to know Gianni's complete recipe, but I certainly understand if you don't feel like posting here out of respect for Gianni.
Alex

Outdoor Oven: Blackstone. Indoor Oven: Gaggenau.

Offline typicalsam

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2021, 12:06:43 PM »
Thanks for the detailed writeup typicalsam! Sounds like a wonderful time and a great learning experience. I would love to know Gianni's complete recipe, but I certainly understand if you don't feel like posting here out of respect for Gianni.
thanks! to be honest he didnt seem very secretive about it, but I just cant really remember. it was 65% hydration, tiny amount of fresh yeast, around 3% salt depending on the time of year, and a long ferment that was a hybrid of room temp and fridge. the flour i didnt really recognise it wasnt caputo, 5 stagioni or polselli

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Offline DoouBall

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Re: Mini Trip Report - Naples & Pizza Class
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2021, 11:53:56 PM »
Sounds like a very practical workflow for a pizzeria. Thanks for sharing!
Alex

Outdoor Oven: Blackstone. Indoor Oven: Gaggenau.

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