Connecticut Pizza Maestro Bruno DiFabio on Food Network's 'Chopped' as Judge
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“We totally get it here and we’re willing to pay a little bit more for an independent pizzeria and we’re able to appreciate the artisan component,” he says of the state. “I’m proud to be a pizza maker from Connecticut. We have better pizza in Connecticut than we do in New York.”
DiFabio is asked one last, looming question: Will you open a pizzeria in the gourmet pizza capital of Connecticut, and, perhaps, of the U.S., New Haven?
He responds that he had a New York style place in New Haven for a couple of years and found that, outside of the big three, there was a neighborhood ethic that surrounded many of the other places. Of that big three, Sally’s, Pepe’s and Modern, DiFabio says, “I am very respectful of their style.” He offers specific praise for Pepe’s white clam and bacon pie, calling it “optimal.”
For more on DiFabio and his pizza, see his website.
Bruno DiFabio and His Pizza Styles in His Own Words
In Pizza, I realized I have thirty years in and thirty more to do, but it wasn't till the last seven years that I have dedicated myself completely to the study of this great craft. It started on a trip to a few tomato farms in Modesto, California and Commune di San Marzano, Italy. Seeing first first-hand the quality and dedication farmers and family owned canneries have in bringing a superior quality tomato to the pizza maker was astonishing. My mission for a complete education on pizza continued with some good fortune that was bestowed on me when I was invited to participate on a Food Network program about pizza. During the trip we visited cow pastures in Caserta, Italy. This is where I found artisan cheese makers who shared the same passion for their industry as I do for mine. It made me want to learn more about other ingredients that I was using. During my travels I met a very tall Italian guy from Venice named Ricardo Aggugiaro. He and his wonderful family invited me to Padova, Italy to visit their flour plant (5 Stagioni). To my surprise, I learned that the wheat in Italy was inferior to ours, and even ours isn't the best. The best comes from the Praire Province of Manitoba Canada, Ricardo and many American companies buy a lot of their wheat to blend with their own domestically grown product. I learned that great flour comes not only from superior wheat, but blending and the refining of the wheat kernel is just as important. My quest took me to several regions of Italy, South America and California. I began studying with and under the most respected pizza makers in the world, mastering theory and practical technique in every facet of pizza making. Over the years I have made pizza on three continents, and worked in the most famous pizzerias in the entire world. After many long and truly amazing experiences, I co-founded the International School of Pizza in 2008, with my good friend and mentor Tony Gemignani. The school is backed by the oldest, most respected pizza school in the world Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli (Caorle, Italy) Chef's from around the world come for certifications in different styles of pizza making.
Pizza Romana is a unique style that is adored all over Europe, but mainly in central Italy. It is a pizza cooked in a double gauged steel Italian teglia pan, and shared by 5 to 6 people. ReNapoli's version is a medium bodied crust, made from the "poolish" method of dough making. This method is a lost art because of its degree of difficulty. It is a two stage process, which takes four days to complete. Well worth the wait, it creates a crisp crust with complex flavors, superior cell structure, bigger and moister crumb, and the most digestible pizza you have ever experienced. ReNapoli presents three different Romanas to choose from, each named after well accomplished pizzaiolo from around the U.S. and Italy. Each Romana is a complete meal with sumptuous, savory, and sweet components to them, therefore there are no substitutions.
Pizza Napoletana is a style that has been gaining respect and popularity in the U.S. since the nineties. The last few years it has progressed into a movement, a revolution, and war amongst artisanal pizza makers all over the country. ReNapoli's Pizza Napoletana is our contribution to this movement. Our dough method is "in giornata" which means made and used in the same day, so some days we do run out. The recipe consists of Caputo 00 flour, water, fresh beer yeast, and Trapani sea salt. Mixed, cut, balled, and matured during an eight hour fermentation at room temperature in Neopolitan wood dough boxes. Our red and white pies are pillowy soft, simplistic in nature, using far less cheese and toppings then we as Americans are accustomed to. It is blistered or charred by the 900 degree Cirigliano wood burning oven, which gives it great flavor, and a sixty second cook time leaves the integrity, essence and flavor of the ingredients intact. Sweet tasting San Marzano tomatoes are painstackingly stripped of the flavorless stems and seeds and the cheeses used are imported from Campania Italy, and made locally from whole milk curds in the Belmont section of the Bronx.
New York Pies
No matter where we grew up, we all had our favorite pizza shop, which had, and probably still has the best New York pizza. I have been making New York Pies for thirty years in Connecticut and New York, and my greatest hope for ReNapoli would be that I meet or exceed the high expectations that you have for this style of pizza. ReNapoli's New York Pies are true to the original, "old school", slice house style that you are used to with an artisinal flair. Cheese used is made from fresh whole milk, harvested daily, with a 5 star Milk & Dairy Board certification. Domestically grown tomatoes are picked and packed within three hours, completely all natural, and never from concentrate. General Mills is the maker of the ultra-refined, All Trumps high glutent flour that we use. Cooked in a Bakers Pride flat top, gas fired brick oven made in New Rochelle, New York. Characteristics are golden bake, crispy, flavorful crust, well-seasoned pizza sauce, and extra cheese. Our dough is made with the "Biga" method. It is a two-step process, using a mother dough and a natural 18 year old starter. Followed by a two day cold rise fermentation, which allows the yeast to develop and break down complex starches in the flour, making a pizza that is much more flavorful, and easy to digest.
Products Used and Raw Materials
Toppings are mostly artisinal and unique to most pizzerias. Vegetables are grown organically, and locally when possible. Fresh meats are pasture raised, cage free and vegetarian fed. Our domestic and imported cured meats, artisinal cheeses, and oils can be purchased at Bklyn Larder (Prospect Heights, Brooklyn), Teitel Brothers (Belmont Section, Bronx), Murray's Cheese (Greenwich Village, Manhattan)