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Monday, January 15, 2018

Naples, Italy: "Pizzaiolo For A Day" More Like Pizzaiolo For An Hour

Pizza Experience
Pizzeria Rosario Piscopo
Via Egiziaca a Pizzofalcone, 100
80132 Naples, Italy
Phone: +39 333-439-2629
Website: PizzaExperience.it
Prices: €€€

Naples is considered the home of pizza, particularly pizza "Margherita" which was named after their former queen. Whether it was invented here or not, most will agree, in Italy and elsewhere, that pizza Napolitana (Neapolitan pizza) is the best you will find ... anywhere.

Thanks to my Italian roots and, having lived in Naples for three years while assigned to NATO's Southern Region Headquarters, I have wanted to learn how to make a proper Neapolitan pizza for a long time. Visiting Naples for a month on this particular occasion, I had plenty of time on my hands and a birthday to celebrate, so my wonderful wife bought me a "4-hour" pizzaiolo (pizza maker) course at Pizza Experience (not far from Piazza Plebiscito above) ... HOOAH!

Description from their website * :
Pizza Experience: Pizzaiolo for a day  
"A training workshop translated into several languages (also in Neapolitan) for those looking for an experience of pleasure and culture. 
The " Fatte 'na Pizza " workshop foresees the preparation of pizza with the help of an expert pizza maker from Naples who will take participants for four hours on an interactive journey. You will abandon the civil robes and become a pizza maker with a personalized apron designed for the occasion, we will talk about the "right" raw materials, we will prepare the dough with your hands in the flour to understand the right consistency , spread the dough on the counter of pizzaiolo and, after having covered it with tomato, Campana bufala mozzarella, basil and olive oil, the participants will be ready to bake it as tradition dictates in the old wood-fired pizza oven. Finally, everyone will eat the result of their work , the wallet pizza (folded in four). The last hour leaves room for conviviality as the Neapolitans love. Everyone at the table to discuss pizza, food, in front of course tasting Neapolitan pizzas of tradition signed by our Masters who will be accompanied by beers or wines from Campania.
Both pizzerias will be closed for the service to allow an exclusive experience. All will receive a certificate of participation, a personalized apron, and not least the energy and philosophy of Neapolitan life. 
What makes Pizza Experience unique:
  • A training workshop translated into several languages ​​(also in Neapolitan) 
  • A journey through the ancient culture of Neapolitan pizza 
  • The evocative locations in the cultural center of Naples open exclusively for the participants 
  • An interactive path to learn the secrets of pizza and replicate them at home 
  • The emotion of preparing a Neapolitan pizza and cooking it in a wood oven 
  • A tasting of the great classics of Neapolitan pizza and the best seasonal pizzas
" Fatte 'na Pizza " Laboratory Program

  • Welcome coffee made in the Neapolitan style 
  • Introduction to Neapolitan pizza - History from its origins to today 
  • Selection of raw materials and description of basic equipment 
  • Demonstration and realization of a dough by hand 
  • Insights on leavening and maturation of the dough 
  • Preparing a wood oven and cooking your own "wallet" pizza 
  • Tasting at the table of two Neapolitan pizzas paired with beer, wine or soft drink 
  • Delivery of certificates of participation and gift gadgets with souvenir photos 
  • A warm greeting to all the members will follow with the final toast
Participants: Min 2 - Max 12 
Duration: 3-4 hours (including tasting) 
Timetable: 10:30-14:30 
Cost: € 100.00 per person; € 65.00 (6 to 16 years); € 0.00 (0 to 6 years)"

Now, I will go through the objectives of the course above one by one, addressing each in-turn:

1. "Welcome coffee made in the Neapolitan style"

- I was in-fact offered a welcome coffee ... bravo!

2. "Introduction to Neapolitan pizza - History from its origins to today"

- I did not receive any history of Neapolitan pizza, only some small talk and some sparkling water.

3. "Selection of raw materials and description of basic equipment"

- I had to ask about the specific ingredients that go into making a Neapolitan pizza as well as how the oven works, at what temperature, where to place the pizza ... etc., etc. ... and was not given a description of any equipment. They had the ingredients ready and told me how much of each (weight in grams) I should add, but I had to inquire specifically 

4. "Demonstration and realization of a dough by hand"

- I was shown how to mix the ingredients as well as how to knead the dough. However, I had to ask about the amount of some ingredients and Rosario, "il maestro" (the master and/or teacher) and "pizzailolo" (pizza maker), was very impatient with me. If I made even the smallest mistake, he would jump in, take over and complete the process, giving me little practical experience. He seemed in a hurry to get the lesson over with so he could go about his day, making pizza and more money.



5. "Insights on leavening and maturation of the dough"

- Again, I had to ask questions about the length of time the dough must rise and rest as well as several other specifics related to the dough making process.

- I was told on more than one occasion: "There are many videos on YouTube depicting the process(es), so we don't need to spend more time on that now". However, I did not receive any information regarding the location of said videos prior to my departure.

6. "Preparing a wood oven and cooking your own "wallet" pizza"

- The fire in the oven had already been started and, once again, I had to ask how to build the fire, how big it should be, where it should go, what to do with the ashes and so forth.

- As far as making the pizza, again, Rosario did most of the work because I was not doing it exactly the way it should be done. After all, he has been doing this for 20+ years and I for less than an hour.

 

7. "Tasting at the table of two Neapolitan pizzas paired with beer, wine or soft drink"

- I did eat the pizza I, partially, made and was offered another, turning it down because one Neapolitan pizza was more than enough and I had no room for a second. I also received a large glass of house red wine to drink along with my pizza.
 
8. "Delivery of certificates of participation and gift gadgets with souvenir photos" 

- I received my certificate, a t-shirt that was two sizes too small for me, a gift bag and some postcards with Pizza Experience advertisements and pizza recipes on them. The souvenir photos were for their website and Facebook page, and I did not receive one. You should also know that you will be asked to sign a photo release waiver, something I do not recall reading on the website and not told about until it was put in front of me at the end of the class.

9. "A warm greeting to all the members will follow with the final toast"

- There was no toast, but my send-off was warm and the experience decent all things considered.

A few additional things from the narrative that need to be addressed:

1. "You will abandon the civil robes and become a pizza maker with a personalized apron"

- Makes it sound like you get an apron with your name on it, maybe with a logo, to take home with you as one of the "gadgets".

2. ... "after having covered it with tomato, Campana bufala mozzarella (actually, it is "mozzarella di bufala campana"), basil and olive oil, the participants will be ready to bake it as tradition dictates".

- I was told that they do not use mozzarella di bufala (water buffalo mozzarella) due to its watery consistency, using fior di latte

The website stated that students would spend 3-4 hours in training, but between my facilitator being 15-20 minutes late, a few cigarette breaks, and doing nothing while allowing the dough to rise, I was there for just two hours, one of which was actually spent in pizza-making related activities.

I must clarify that I was the only student that day, due to a family of three cancelling last minute as a result of their child's illness (the reason the facilitator was late - a reasonable excuse), receiving one-on-one attention in the pizza kitchen rather than in the dining room next door with 3-11 other students where training normally takes place. I would not expect them to spend 3-4 hours with me alone, but just an hour of training with little practical experience due to the pizzaiolo's impatience left me feeling slighted. With a €100 price tag, I expected more hands-on training, having walked away feeling that I did not learn nearly as much as I could have.

With some fine-tuning, following the objectives promoted on their website, and showing more patience with pizzaiolo novices, the course would be well worth the €100 registration fee. 
In the end, I learned much more than I knew before I arrived, thanks in-part to my inquisitive nature, and can take the knowledge and skills home to practice pizza making on my own.

CombatCritic Gives Pizza Experience A Very Average 6 Bombs Out Of 10 ... Not Horrible, Not Great ... More Bombs Are Better!
Six Bombs Equates To:


Translation for Civilians: "Good To Go"

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*Extracted from https://www.pizzaexperience.it/descrizione/ on January 3, 2018.

Title: Naples, Italy: "Pizzaiolo For A Day" More Like Pizzaiolo For An Hour

Key Words: Naples, Italy, Pizza Experience, pizza, experience, class, event, pizzaiolo, Napoli, pizzeria, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, service, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook


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