Last week we mentioned that Donatella Arpaia was having a wood-fired pizza oven installed in her upcoming pizzeria, Donatella's. Yesterday, Slice was lucky enough to peep a part of the oven-building process.
In what amounts to a huge coup in the pizza world, Ms. Arpaia, popular NYC restaurateur and frequent Iron Chef America judge, has convinced legendary Naples oven-builder Stefano Ferrara to construct the oven on site himself. This is the only oven Mr. Ferrara has built from the ground up in New York City.
But, Adam, you say, lots of pizzerias have Stefano Ferrara ovens.
Yes, that's true—but most of those are prefabbed in Naples and shipped over. Those are still great, great ovens, but, according to the small number of Naples natives (who became animatedly passionate about the subject — who would have thought?), there is nothing like a bespoke oven built from stones and sand from Naples.
"It's like the chicken or the egg," said NYC-based wine merchant and Naples native Maurizio De Rosa. "Are these oven and their heating properties so good because of the volcanic material we use? Or did we just start using the material because that's what was there?" (As you know, the Naples area is rich in volcanic material thanks to Mt. Vesuvius.)
Mr. De Rosa had agreed to act as our translator when talking to Mr. Ferrara and Enzo Coccia (above), who is on hand not to build the oven, as previously reported by the New York Times, but to consult in the process. Ms. Arpaia will begin training with Mr. Coccia, in Naples, in the ways of pizza in a couple of weeks. But apparently Mr. Coccia was very concerned about what type of oven Ms. Arpaia would be using and has been in town watching the build.
Anyway, we were on hand to take photos, so I give you a photo gallery of some of the process. Check it out! »
Special thanks to Maurizio De Rosa for the translation! Grazie!