Passion for Pizza

When I returned from a trip to Italy several years ago, I was determined to duplicate the pizza that I had that was so different from the pizza I grew up with in America. This led me to researching the building of a wood fired oven at my home. I had to choose the type of oven I wanted, and come up with a design.

I spent a year looking at pictures, drawing sketches, and even enlisting a friend of mine who is an architect to come up with designs.

I had an existing brick fireplace in our back yard that was standard in our neighborhood. They took leftover bricks, built a cement base, and added in an iron grill. Over time it deteriorated, so I tore it down to place the wood fired oven on the same spot.

The transition was truly amazing. I chose a Le Panyol Oven from the Main Wood Heating Company. I obtained marble from a local cemetery, and added in some bricks I found buried around the house that had the name of the company that our house bricks came from.

Having an oven was just the beginning of a journey of making and forming dough, learning oven management, and producing a product that I cloud be proud of. It took time. As the Italians say, “stai tranquilla,” stay calm. Patience would be a very necessary ingredient to add to the flour, water, salt, and yeast.

A book that was very helpful to me was, The Art of Wood Fired Cooking by Andrea Mugnaini. FG Pizza was also important as I learned which tools to use, as were Frank’s videos on how to properly bake and cook in a wood fired oven.

So Phase 1 was very much a learning stage. It made me want to perfect my craft. The next step led me to working at almost every wood fired oven in the city of Pittsburgh. Finally it took me to Naples, Italy where I was professionally trained by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (AVPN).