by Enzo Coccia
My writing comes from a series of questions that, as a set of snap-shots, placed one after the other, I ask myself about my job. Each picture coincides with a multitude of questions, it seems to unroll an old film of Super 8. The question that has popped into my head today concerns the intrinsic value of a true Neapolitan pizza in a pizzeria. In a few words, in which percentage does a quality pizza affect the overall judgment of a pizzeria?
Wikipedia defines the pizzeria as “the place where the pizza is prepared and served”. But before, in Taverne famose napoletane, written in 1889, Salvatore Di Giacomo described a pizzaria on Santa Teresa in Capodimonte hill, he clearly indicated that the only product which was prepared and served at the tables was, precisely, the pizza. More than a century later the pizzeria is still seen as a lively and informal place. Even in the Gambero Rosso’s guide to Italian pizzerias the evaluation criteria adopted were based on the dough, the rising, the raw materials, the cooking and the tasting. No scores are given to the lists of wines and beers, the service and the location: everything is focused exclusively on the pizza.
Preparing a pizza is an artisan job, not only of the pizzaiolo, mind you, but of a team of people because it involves a real production process. It is the so-called production cycle which, unlike the industrial production process, set, as it is, on the machine, is entirely made in synergy by the group of trained workers.
I am aware that a restaurant or a pizzeria operates like a cog in a manual-wind Swiss watch in which every single piece, big or small, is a human resource that, with his own hands, plays a role.
There is not only the artisan who makes the disk of leavened dough, there is, instead, a number of units (Pizzeria, Operations Department, Front of house, Front and Back Office) that need to cooperate with each other to conclude the making process.
At this point, I wonder how a quality pizza, taking into account the rising, the handling, the garnish with excellent ingredients and the cooking, affects the success of the place where it is made.
Reasoning about a percentage, I believe it is the 60/65% of the pizzeria offer. The world is changing, actually, as one reads and hears from many sides, it is constantly evolving, and the pizzaria described by Di Giacomo is, therefore, old, obsolete, outdated and stereotypical.