The real Pizzaiolo: Learn to make pizza

Pizza dough – one of those things people seem to argue about all the time. It has to be thin, soft, crispy, thick, white or with little brown burnt spots. What about you? We learn how to make pizza dough for home cooking – from a real pizzaiolo.

We enter the beautiful house just outside the city of Como, Italy, and put on an apron. Surely, we need a lot more to bake pizza. Actually … no. But we need a pizzaiolo to show us the little tricks to make our pizza perfect. Let me introduce you to Umberto.

Umberto is Italian, but has lived most of his life in Venezuela. He is man with a fascinating history. Originally, he is a professor of theoretical physics and he used to teach his students about natural science. One day, he discovered that the students didn’t listen to him as carefully as they used to. So he decided to quit his job as a professor and start a pizza restaurant in Venezuela – as he didn’t like the pizza there anyway. Umberto has always been a passionate cook and as an Italian, he was especially fond of pizza.

From science to pizza

And now he is back in Italy, precisely in Como, and shares his knowledge and skills of making pizza. It is important to understand that the pizza in a restaurant with a woodstove is something completely different from the pizza you make at home. In a woodstove you reach temperatures of more than 400 degrees, whereas at home you reach tops of 280 degrees. In a woodstove the pizza only takes about 90 seconds to be ready – now you know, why it always tastes different (and you keep asking yourself, why the pizza delivery always takes so long :-)).

Umberto is very patient with. He shows us the various steps how to make the perfect pizza dough with just a few ingredients: water, flour, salt and yeast. The mixing of the ingredients is the easiest part. The secret ingredients are – according to Umberto – patience and love.

… and a glass of wine in between

When making pizza, you have to wait a little while to allow the dough to prove. For how long? As a reference, you can always enjoy a glass of wine in between and then continue with the dough. After the dough rested for a while, you need to get more physical and knead it. It looks easier than it is and Umberto shows us how to use our fingers without covering our palms in flour and dough. After 2-3 rounds of kneading the dough, it needs resting for a longer period of time.

Lucky we are, as Umberto has already prepared pizza dough the day before so that we can bake the pizza and taste it. We make the classical Pizza Margherita, which was named after the Italian queen. It shows us the national colors of Italy: green (basil), white (mozzarella) and red (tomatoes). Furthermore, we bake pizza bread or white pizza with sea salt and rosemary.

The authentic pizza experience

Placed on the bottom of the simple kitchen oven, we leave it there for about 15 minutes. The smell is delicious and we are looking forward to take the first bite of our home made pizza. Umberto takes a pair of scissors to cut it into pieces, because it works much better than a knife or a pizza cutters. And it is as delicious as it looks and smells. We can’t get enough and take one piece after another until the wooden plate is empty.

This experience is authentic and a lot of fun. Making pizza with a real pizzaiolo who is experienced and skilled, kneading dough almost everyday, is something to remember. In the meantime, we have tried the recipe at home and remembered the steps well – it worked! We enjoyed a lovely dinner with our home made pizza à la Umberto 🙂


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