The United States is a truly a multicultural country. While it asks all of its citizens to assimilate, it also encourages them to hold on to the pride of their heritage. As a country that is widely diverse in terms of lineage, perhaps the most recognizable connection is the one which many Americans share with Italy. The Italian-American community is full of pride, as they should be. In addition to the contributions of the US’s great citizens of Italian heritage, Italy itself has given us much. Americans adore the fine art, cinema, architecture, strong coffee, and especially the food! While the US has come up with its own “accent” for many traditional Italian dishes, a trip to taste the cuisine in its mother country reveals how exceptional the authenticity tastes. Or…you could save the price of an airline ticket by sampling Domenico Foraggio’s Pizza. It is so exceptional that it has earned him the title “Ambassador of Pizza Napoletana in America.”
Domenico and David Civitiello (winner of the Trophy Caputo Pizza STG ) have worked together and share a mutual respect reserved for the greats of their profession. David comments, “Passion and devotion to the tradition are the main ingredients to making exceptional pizza. Pizza is an art and as such, must be respected! I started working with Domenico Foraggio when our company decided to tackle the American market. This company chose the best pizza makers and chefs for this new American project and they chose us. I worked with Domenico Foraggio at Rosso Pomodoro. The secret to our successful ventures together is that Domenico and I both understand the passion and dedication that is required to cook Pizza Napoletana. It’s very different than the American version. When you grow up with this tradition you understand that it is a way of life. Domenico is a true master and embodies this.”
Tradition is at the heart of Foraggio’s approach. Domenico’s father is a renowned chef in Italy and has always been his idol. As an 8-year-old boy, he saw his father directing three restaurants located in three of the most important city in northern Italy. Overseeing more than forty-five employees, Vincenzo Foraggio ran the kitchens and the pizzerias while Domenico’s mother did the rest; accounting, etc. It seemed to the young Foraggio to be a beautiful empire. Hoping to repeat this in his own life, Domenico learned the trade. Living in a restaurant for almost his entire life, it became his daily life. This process has been a family tradition which his family has upheld for generations.
Pinpointing how his approach differs from that of the US chefs, Foraggio declares, “The American pizza has a lot of differences from the Italian. First of all, the flour is different. My pizza is mixed with only 00 double flour, possibly of Caputo brands. It’s the best in Italy for pizza, produced in Naples. I only use this and it is possible because they ship all over the world. Then the leavening process. Neapolitan pizza [dough] is ballooned for more than 36 hours with a double leavening process that is difficult and lengthy. This serves to give a fragrance, digestibility, and the lightness to the pizza. This is accompanied by the original products as: Italian olive oil, fresh handmade mozzarella, and red tomatoes Gragnano. These specific ingredients make our pizza different from the American version. I believe that in America there are too many brands, the originality gets lost. Finally, the floating wood oven is very important is crucial for the authenticity of the pizza. This type of oven is able to maintain very high temperatures, allowing the dough to have the proper reaction to cooking with excellent results. The real Neapolitan pizza is baked in a wood oven in just 90 seconds.”
One of the unspoked ingredients that Foraggio and Civitiello both contribute in spades is the passion needed by all great chefs to pour themselves into their work and their food. In Domenico’s life, it is truly a familial endeavor and it’s also something that he relates to those who also pursue this goal. Foraggio attended the Caputo tournament in Naples, Italy. The competition had pizza makers from different places all over the world. There were pizza chefs from China! I was very surprised that this passion would involve so many people from faraway places. I have never seen so many different types of pizza. It made me feel that pizza is Italy’s gift to the world of food, which makes me even more happy to be called Ambassador of Pizza Napoletana in America.”