Each one carries on with his own vision what is the creed of the family tradition, what our father taught us.
Welcome to the third episode of a new set of pods on the Series “On The Road Edition” hosted by Stevie Kim. Join Stevie as she desperately seeks the best pizza in Napoli – Tune-in as she enjoys the sites, sounds and …the pizza! In this episode Stevie Kim, accompanied by her cicerone Luciano Pignataro, meets Salvatore Salvo, owner with his brother of “Pizzeria Salvo” near Naples. Salvatore will talk about his family history related to the art of pizza. This episode is the first of two recorded in Salvatore’s pizzeria, to listen to the sequel tune-in next Saturday! Listen to Episode 746 on the Italian Wine Podcast and, if you don’t happen to speak Italian, find the English translation below. And stay tuned for the next episode next Saturday! We are already hungry!
Stevie: Welcome to Italian Wine Podcast, this is “On the Road Edition” we are here, of course in Naples, this is our third pizzeria of the day, and this interview will be happening in Italian. I don’t speak Neapolitan so… we will do it in Italian this time.
Stevie: We are here with obviously Luciano Pignataro, my friend….
Stevie: …and my cicerone in Naples, because I’ve always had this dream of coming to Naples to try the so-called “best pizzerias in the world.”
Luciano: Of course!
Stevie: So, I don’t know anyone in Naples, I only know Luciano Pignataro and I am very lucky because he is a top expert in gastronomy and of course pizza, not only that, but also my friend in wine.
Luciano: Sure, your wine friend.
Stevie: Yes. So, we are now here with Salvatore Salvo one of three brothers that…long story that we will talk about with him, however, Luciano first, I have my bible now….
Stevie: “Pizza” the book, I’ve been studying a little bit. By the way all the people who want to learn more about pizza, especially Neapolitan pizza, there’s this free course…
Stevie: Absolutely free, beautiful, at Federica University, right? Which is called pizza revolution.
Luciano: “Pizza Revolution,” yes.
Stevie: It’s beautiful, it’s in Italian but I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about pizza. So, Luciano, first of all thank you.
Luciano: Thank you.
Stevie: So how many pizzerias are there in Naples?
Luciano: We are more than one thousand, one thousand five hundred in Naples alone. In the whole Campania region there are 10,000 more or less and in Italy there are almost 100,000.
Stevie: Okay, so however I said, if I have a few hours in Naples and I said “give me the guideline, the absolute musts, the best pizzerias I need to visit” and you named three today. Why these three?
Luciano: So, they’re not the best, but they’re examples of three things you need to know. The Antica Pizzeria da Michele is the best-known pizzeria in the world, it’s the best-known place in the world and it has remained…
Stevie: Because Julia Roberts was there, too, in the movie “Eat, Pray and Love”.
Luciano: And let’s face it. And it practically has the line always in front and it’s a line where you can hear all the languages of this world even Neapolitan, it’s not just a pizzeria for tourists and it has remained true to itself with only two types of pizza Marinara and Margherita.
Stevie: I found out today that there is another pizza, the Maritta….
Stevie: …which is actually Margherita and Marinara.
Luciano: Yes, it is something in between. And then I recommended something that few people outside of Naples know about, which is fried pizza….
Stevie: I for one did not know that.
Luciano: …it is a great Neapolitan tradition, especially after the war, and finally I wanted to bring you here to the Salvatore and Francesco brothers’ pizzeria because it is a modern pizzeria, but they are pizza makers by tradition of the fourth generation, but they have made this great revolution by modernizing the premises, inserting a large wine list, 180 labels, inserting craft beers, inserting more pizzas and then let’s say a new concept of pizzeria as it is emerging today in Naples and in Italy, especially in the last 10 years. So, to give you, how to say a glimpse, quick, fast that you Americans always running and then a quick glimpse to give you the opportunity next time you come to deepen.
Stevie: Yes, so you give me the “primer”, the so-called first step
Luciano: The trailer
Stevie: an in-depth teaser about pizza. But I’d also like to ask you another thing because so far everyone is talking about fiordilatte, what is the difference between fiordilatte and mozzarella? Is it the same thing?
Luciano: No, it’s not quite the same thing, because fiordilatte is made from cow’s milk, cow’s milk, while mozzarella is made from buffalo milk mostly….
Stevie: Have you heard, Andrea? So…
Luciano: Mozzarella DOP is made of buffalo milk, even if many people use the word mozzarella to mean, in the current language, a little bit of confusion, as always in Italy, each word means several things, but to be precise, fiordilatte is a dairy product made with milk from cows. Traditionally, fiordilatte was very common in Naples. Then buffalo mozzarella took over, especially in the 1980s, so much so that many called them bufaline, and they had an extra price tag. Now, let’s say, they are both excellent products and therefore it only depends on the taste, if you want a more pronounced taste, get buffalo mozzarella, if you like a softer taste, more tranquil, fiordilatte is good.
Stevie: Okay, so let’s get to Salvatore now. Hi.
Stevie: Hi, so where are we in the first place? We’re not in Naples.
Salvatore: No, actually we were born as a pizzeria in Portici and today we are in San Giovanni a Cremano which is just over the border. We are in one of the towns on the outskirts of Naples towards the Vesuvian coast, which have a certain urban continuity with the eastern suburbs of the city, the more popular neighborhoods of San Giovanni or Barra. As Luciano said we are pizza makers not for four but for three generations, we are the third generation of pizza makers actually born from a rib of another old Neapolitan pizzeria, a rib that becomes Porticese which was the holiday resort of the Neapolitans. Grandma started making pizzas in the Barra neighborhood outside of Basso a bit…
Stevie: Your grandfather?
Salvatore: My grandmother.
Stevie: Ah grandma, not grandpa
Salvatore: no grandfather, grandfather did this job but actually the activity, if we talk about entrepreneurship in some way, of agribusiness was of the grandmother, grandmother Rosa. She used to make pizzas outside the Basso on holidays, as in the post-war period, they were fried pizzas. When her children began to grow up, grandma opened the first family pizzeria in the center of Portici. Then, due to a series of vicissitudes we moved to another side from the border to San Giorgio where we now have the first pizzeria of two bearing the historic family sign.
Stevie: So, I now maybe, I am actually you don’t know me, however, I always ask the uncomfortable questions.
Stevie: Okay? So I read in Luciano’s book that you are actually three brothers, okay? Unfortunately, your father passed away at a young age and then you inherited this, let’s say, business, in a way, but you started together, so Ciro, Francesco, Salvatore and then you split up. So, tell us why you split up and how are you working now?
Salvatore: We were born together because we actually inherited the family business that had gone through some sad vicissitudes at the time of my father’s death. The usual Italian story where there is the neighbor more wealthy and powerful than the humble merchant and of course comes the closure of the business that was supporting the family with a few employees.
Stevie: It sounds so cliché but it was right up your alley.
Salvatore: Exactly. In reality, for alleged irregularities in a chimney, but in reality the objective was also to damage the property, which in turn was financially very powerful. We start off with the anger of those who want to rebuild a bit what was the family tradition, the family business because we lived on that, we were born and raised all three of us in a pizzeria, our mother worked actively with Dad. As soon as… in this small pizzeria we equipped ourselves with the little money left but mostly personal savings after she had already worked a few years with dad. We make this pizzeria and inherit and expand the clientele of our father, because in reality was not at the time the world of social so already go from a small town like Portici to pass…
Stevie: So, when did this happen?
Salvatore: In 2006
Salvatore: April 2006, Dad had just died a year before.
Stevie: When i-phone was created, I think.
Salvatore: In fact, the i-phone, I saw it for the first time in America the following summer. However, at the time already arriving in San Giovanni a Cremano was a novelty, almost conquering a new world so we passed two small worlds, the one in Portici started by dad and the one in San Giovanni that actually started to know us as a business and there we start to create a story. Then, as it happens, the differences, the different temperaments from a personal point of view lead us to separate ways. I stay in the family business with Francesco, Ciro on the other hand, with his different views and above all his different way of being, goes elsewhere to find his fortune with another company and another person, creating what are, in some ways, two sides of the same coin. Each one carries on with his own vision what is the creed of the family tradition, what our father taught us, then each one for personal interpretation has made a professional experience that has given us a personalisation to our own path and therefore making each one of us become interpreters of what was originally, in my opinion, a great interpretation of pizza, which was that of my father.
Luciano: Let’s say that the tradition of the great families of pizza makers is just this gemmation, so one moves away from the family, from the family pizzeria and …. Because before, pizzerias couldn’t really support everyone. For example, another famous Neapolitan pizza maker, Enzo Boccia, who was the first to make a revolution in products, in leavening, left his family pizzeria at Duchesca near the station to open his own pizzeria. The story of the Bellone family, the story of many Neapolitan families is very similar, each one then opens his own pizzeria and the pizzerias multiply.
Stevie: So, I’d like to ask you both the same question. So, why do you think you’re, let’s say, categorized as a modernist as a pizzeria, or as a pizza maker.
Salvatore: Because I think our vision of pizzeria was to want to renew what was a traditional, even spartan stereotype of the Neapolitan pizzeria. Especially with the post-2008 economic crisis, what happens? What’s happening is that Neapolitan families and Italians in general no longer have the opportunity to go to a restaurant as they did before, so the pizzeria becomes a fallback segment of the restaurant industry, and therefore the need arises, but also a market, an unconscious request of the market to improve what was the offer of the pizzeria that did not do only the spartan service of the simple drink or the simplest pizzas but to evolve in experience that is always, walks more and more hand in hand with the territory, especially succeed in easy formula to elevate a traditional dish like pizza for Naples in a more current way, especially that respects the culinary tradition. So we give importance to the service, some of our boys have even done an internship at the Francescana, at Osteria Francescana of Bottura, by Don Alfonso with the Iaccarino family, and then we started to put on a wine list because we believe that the wine, which traditionally was drunk with pizza, can be the ideal combination especially for a new way of understanding, rather than pizza, the pizzeria. Then from there comes the path made by watching with curiosity the kitchens, especially the important ones, those who dictated in some way the trends of the new Italian cuisine, so we started to collaborate in a joking way with some chef friends, we have learned some technique even quite simple to transform the ingredients that were more difficult to bring on a pizza. I give the example of one of our pizzas with tomatoes where he sees the selection of our tomatoes, then the result of that maniacal attention to the good things that the territory could give us that were put all together on the same pizza without giving notes of monotony but each becoming a protagonist in turn and an ingredient if a pizza in its apparent simplicity became at the same time thought out and complex.