Giovanni Santarpia On Pizza!

Giovanni Santarpia, Master Pizzaiolo

Giovanni Santarpia, Master Pizzaiolo

There’s no getting around it; Pizza is a Neapolitan creation, and one who wants proof need only visit a Neapolitan pizzaiolo and see just how varied and inventive his or her creations are; much more than the pizzas you’ll find in other parts of Italy, and a great many with little or no tomato.

Of course it’s even nicer if the pizzaiolo will come to you, and this year Giovanni Santarpia, a Napoletano DOC who has moved to Florence, was the star at Ruffino’s annual journalist’s dinner, held on the winery’s Tenuta Poggio Casciano property, mid-way between the towns of Grassina and San Polo.

Giovanni Santarpia's Fried Pizza

Giovanni Santarpia’s Fried Pizza

Ruffino being a winery, one of the goals of the dinner was to pair pizza with wine, and we began with Vermentino and pizza fritta, which had some tomato within the fried pizzas and more on top, garnished with basil too. This was the only tomato sauce we saw in the course of the evening.

Giovanni Santarpia's Prosciutto and Melon Pizza

Giovanni Santarpia’s Prosciutto and Melon Pizza

We then sat down, and were treated with Pizza al Prosciutto e Melone, pizza – just a white disk – topped with freshly sliced melon and prosciutto; the combination, which is generally just served on a plate, worked quite well, with the salt on the pizza crust contributing nicely to the other ingredients.

The wine? A simple, eminently quaffable rosato.

Giovanni Santarpia's Stuffed Zucchini Blossom Pizza

Giovanni Santarpia’s Stuffed Zucchini Blossom Pizza

Next came a high point, Pizza ai Fiori di Zucca Ripieni di Ricotta e Prosciutto Cotto, pizza topped with squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta and ham, and with tomatoes and cheese.  Very delicate, and eye-openingly delicious.

Giovanni Santarpia's Tripe Salad Pizza

Giovanni Santarpia’s Tripe Salad Pizza

Giovanni then nodded to Tuscan tradition, serving up another simple pizza disk topped with a tripe salad simply seasoned with olive oil, parsley, and pepper. Delicate and also quite light.

The wine? Ruffino has recently introduced a Chianti Superiore that’s bottled in what one might call a variation on the traditional Tuscan fiasco, or wine flask. Light, fresh, and fruity, and it drank quite well with both the tripe and the lampredotto we next came to.

Giovanni Santarpia's Calzone With Lampredotto

Giovanni Santarpia’s Calzone With Lampredotto

Lampredotto indeed; since Tuscany also has other organ meat traditions, Giovanni then served us a Calzone (for want of a better term) stuffed with Lampredotto made by Luca Cai: Lampredotto is the second stomach of the cow, boiled for hours with a variety of vegetables, and though the vegetables are generally filtered out when the lampredotto is served up in a sandwich, Giovanni included them in the filling of the calzone, together with a little cheese on top, and those who liked lampredotto at our table – not all people do – enjoyed it very much.

The wine? Ruffino makes much more than Chianti, and at this point they broke out their 2007 Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino. Which one might have expected to be overkill with pizza, but instead paired nicely.

Giovanni Santarpia's Cream of Squash and Pancetta Pizza

Giovanni Santarpia’s Cream of Squash and Pancetta Pizza

After the calzone Giovanni returned to pizza, again in bianco (tomatoless), treating us with a cream of squash and pancetta topping that was very very nice; the squash was delicate, with hints of sweetness that were beautifully balanced by the saltiness of the pancetta, and had there been an extra slice I’d have happily taken it.

Giovanni Santarpia's Certaldo Onion and Pecorino di Fossa Pizza

Giovanni Santarpia’s Certaldo Onion and Pecorino di Fossa Pizza

The last of the savory pizzas was topped with stewed onions from Certaldo and pecorino di fossa, pecorino that is wrapped in burlap and buried in a fossa or ditch to age (in the past the burial also served to hide the cheese from thieves who would raid farms for provisions); during the time spent underground the cheese undergoes a number of chemical reactions, and gains a piquancy that many find addictive, and that nicely balanced the sweetness of the onions.

Giovanni Santarpia's Pistocchi Chocolate Cream Pizza

Giovanni Santarpia’s Pistocchi Chocolate Cream Pizza

One might think this enough, but there was dessert also, and Giovanni first wowed us with a pizza topped with the chocolate cream from Mr. Pistocchi, one of Tuscany’s finest chocolatiers; the savory accents of the crust paired beautifully with the sweetness of the chocolate and people again wished there were extra slices available. And it went well with the Brunello!

Giovanni Santarpia's Blueberry and Vinsanto Sauce Pizza

Giovanni Santarpia’s Blueberry and Vinsanto Sauce Pizza

And as if that wasn’t enough, Giovanni then produced a masterful pizza topped with blueberries in a Vin Santo sauce. Stunning, and the perfect closure to a memorable meal.

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How to bake Pizza in a Wood Fired Oven


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Categories: Illustrated Recipes And More

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.


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4 Comments on “Giovanni Santarpia On Pizza!”

  1. richard
    July 12, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    I likeh da pizza…veddy goodeh…sarebbe di fare una ultima mangiatra in questa maniera…prima di morire..

  2. richard
    July 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    Giovanni santarpia….what a master pizzaiolo

  3. July 13, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    grande Giovanni !
    il pezzo mejo, checchè se ne dica altrove, di Firenze & dintorni !

  4. July 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Quite a feast! The all look wonderful, but the calzone with lampredotto has really piqued my curiosity…

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