Sun, 05/22/2016 - 16:48


Barbara Guerra and Albert Sapere are a couple in life and profession. We learned to appreciate, respect and love them in the course of laste ten years because alone, without big budgets, often without financial support from Public Organisations, have been able to create an innovative event format and territorial communication concepts of absolute quality and originality. In recent years their most successful  event format become the catering conference "Le Strade della Mozzarella" (Along the Mozzarella Roads) a meeting of the best Italian chefs and beyond, agricultural artisans, winemakers and food specialties of the highest quality.

A community of professionals who, year after year, followed them and contributed to their success.Last year they began to organize some outside Italy editions: Paris, Geneva, London, with growing public, foodies, and journalists consensus.

Finally for the first time LSDM - the kitchen congress dedicated to the buffalo mozzarella and other great symbol of Italy products - has crossed the ocean to bring the excellence of Made in Italy in the heart of New York. Not only mozzarella to bring the best of Italy at the table, precisely, but also the superior quality Gragnano pasta, uncommon kind of tomatoes, Kimbo Neapolitan coffee - complete with a traditional coffee maker kettle called “Caffettiera Napoletana” - the great diversity extra virgin olive oil from North to South like the tuscan Dievole, the apulian “Muraglia” and Olitalia.

The program was scheduled into Two afternoons in Manhattan - the first took place in the iconic Flatiron District and the second in Harlem – and the formula was based not only on the tasting  of extraordinary raw ingredients and great recipes, but also on the comparison between traditions, contamination and possible innovations of Italian cuisine - and pizza - between the Peninsula and the New World. The formula?

Along with some of the leading celebrity chef and pizza chefs of Italian cuisine made in South of Italy like - Gaetano and Pasquale Torrente, Alfonso Pepe, Franco Pepe and Salvatore Salvo - there were also italian cooks and pizza chefs (or Italian-Americans) who daily serve Italian cuisine in the US, paying attention to the authenticity of the ingredients and hold tight to the Italian identity, but they  also like to be inspired by some kind  of “good” contamination  from the best of what this great country has to offer. On May 17 afternoon, in the beautiful showroom” Pentrole Agnelli” – at the tenth floor of a building overlooking the 5th Avenue - Massimo Carbone, President of AICNY (NY Italian Chef Association, which represents a group of 160 Italian chefs resident in town) offered a tribute to the simplicity and quality of the distinctive Italian cuisine ingredients from North to South: his appetizer made with Mountain South Tyrolean speck, black caramelized figs and buffalo mozzarella, was a perfect welcome for an audience of journalists, importers and experts  who came to attend  the event. Chef Massimo Bebber, young chef recently arrived at the kitchen guide to what is perhaps the most iconic italian cuisine restaurant ever in the Big Apple founded by Sirio Maccioni in 1974: Le Cirque. Bebber presented a destructured “Caprese” where the typical textures of the basic ingredients of this dish-symbol are reversed: the cheese turns into creamy balls of thickened buffalo milk, tomato becomes a sauce with a slightly smoky taste and basil gives crunchiness in the form of a sponge cake chewable; to finish, basil oil and edible flowers. It has also being served in the original version for those who want to compare the taste of Italian products in the original recipe. Ribalta Chef Pasquale Cozzolino, who recently became even more famous because of his envied successful Pizza Diet (by which he lost all the weight accumulated over months of junk food), for the congress LSDM created an impeccable taste of another symbol of Italian cuisine: a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce, one of the most difficult dishes to cook for a chef, as recalled by Giuseppe Di Martino of Pastificio dei Campi, but also a guaranteed success if you choose great raw ingredients, and this was the case. Not for nothing, those of Ribalta were elected the best spaghetti with tomato sauce in New York last year.

Fabio Parasecoli, Food professor at the New School in Manhattan, acted as a kind of cultural mediator between Italy and the United States telling the historical aspects of products and customs that are now part of two national culinary traditions and beyond. With regard to pasta, for example, Parasecoli settles the doubt about its origins: is pasta no doubt Italian, probably with distant Arab influences or not? Are Chinese noodles a product  completely different that only after many centuries met the Italian brothers?

Even pasta, even spaghetti and even simple but intense flavors are faboulous recipes - says Gaetano Torrente - that  in his “Burro & Alici” restaurant in Lombady region” is accustomed to propose dishes and autoctonous products from Campania in norther Italy. Together with his father Pasquale presented “Sauté spaghetti with olive oil emulsion, fresh parsley, garlic and chilli peppers (all strictly raw) embellished with some drops of anchovy “Colatura di Alici” which replaces the salt.

"The secret - explains Giuseppe Di Martino - is the ratio between pasta and amount of “Colatura di Alici” drops, to achieve the perfect balance between flavor and umami: together, they make the perfect dish."  To close the day, the delicious tricolor Babà was presented by Alfonso Pepe: with a slightly different dough, made with extra virgin olive oil and poured into molds with the pastry bag, instead of syrup and rum is soaked in a syrup with tomato and basil served on a buffalo milk cream accompanied by a basil pesto, tomato confit and an extra virgin olive oil. The next day, the stage for the second part of the event was settled in the charming location of Neapolitan Express in Harlem - the headquarters of the group that brings around the streets of New York Neapolitan pizza with sustainable food truck. One of the founders, also the past former mayor of New York Mike Bloomberg,  in addition to the house master, Max Crespo - the star was the pizza, as always accompanied by tastings of other specialty products. Presented by Fred Mortati Orlando Food Sales - and interspersed with testimonies and reflections of Luciano Pignataro, Scott Wiener (young and enthusiastic guru of the pizza in New York), Antimo Caputo, Silvia and Alberta Mandara (mozzarella producers) and Andrea Montermini Kimbo  coffee - the best representatives of Neapolitan pizza in NY have proposed their alternating samples to colleagues who came from Italy.

Giulio Adriani, doing the house honors - Naples native but arrived in NY a few years ago from Northern Italy for a brief consultation, and then stood still – is now Neapolitan Pizza Express chef executive. He proposed a very good tasty classic Margherita: the most Representative of the Neapolitan style, popular soul and convivial pizza, ideal for enhancing the flavors of the mix of the ingredients for the topping.

Roberto Caporuscio, creator of Kestè and Don Antonio - two of the most famous Neapolitan pizzerias in town - has been replaced by a young and talented daughter Giorgia Caporuscio, who has prepared a more complex pizza that winked at gourmet trends, with mozzarella, porcini mushrooms cream, shaved white and black truffle from Irpinia on the top.

From an Irpinian small village - comes the young Michele D'Amelio, pizza chef of “A Mano” in  New Jersey: he remains very attached to his roots and suggested a great pizza with sausage and friarielli (simplified, for New Yorkers in “broccoli”) and the intense touch of smoked buffalo mozzarella.

Pasquale Torrente has focused on fried pizza (another icon for the southern Italy pizza lovers), with a fantastic “Montanarina” extolling the taste of tomato and fresh basil.

Franco Pepe - accompanied by his young son Stephen - presented to the American public not only his ethereal handmade sourdough but also his philosophy is knowing how to combine tradition and innovation.

Franco Pepe  presented his “Margherita Sbagliata” a gourmet version of the traditional one, where the ingredients are the same of the classic one, but reversed in stocks and the order of addition, with mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil put before cooking and the tomato and basil added out of the oven in the form of reductions - he has conquered all here!

Back to basics instead was the motto of Salvatore Salvo from the pizzeria “Francesco & Salvatore Salvo in San Giorgio a Cremano with his brother Francesco. They prepared “La Cosacca”, ancient and simple pizza (prior to the Margherita) which is based completely on the taste of the tomatoes “Corbarino” enhanced by a faboulous Irpinian pecorino cheese grated in the right proportion.

Last but not least John Arena with his New York style pizza. He was born in the Big Apple, even though today he rules from Metro Pizza in Las Vegas. He built his career dedicated to pizza for nearly 40 years and his pizzas are thicker and crisp, with a larger diameter, to be eaten into slices. He briefly told the story of this type of pizza which was born from the need of the last Neapolitan pizza makers emigrated from Italy more than one century ago in Usa. They had to find a way to make it with what they could find in America, starting with flour that was (and is) stronger in protein and thicker with which you could not get a melt-kneading as the Neapolitan one. The pizza NYStyle of course therefore is thicker and crunchier, with a much larger diameter and more challenging condiments, eaten in slices as big as break-fast and always, strictly by hand. Today, however, thanks to the possibility to import the original ingredients from Italy, is returning to the origins working more on the quality of products - from zucchini flowers to 'nduja with which John peppers his pizza - and according to him at this time you can enjoy the "American pizza at its best".

At the end of the intense two-days New York “Mozzarella Roads”, again the sweetness of Alfonso Pepe joined us: this time with irresistible fried zeppoline that conquered also the hearth and the stomac of all pizza makers!

Good job boys….see you soon Big Apple!




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