Authentica, back to the roots with Franco Pepe

The master pizzaiolo from Caiazzo added a private room to his restaurant where 8 people can learn to the art of pizza from him

Franco Pepe in front of Authentica’s heart, the

Franco Pepe in front of Authentica’s heart, the oven that can bake pizzas for a maximum of 10 guests in the private room opened informally on the 7th December

The preview took place on Thursday 7th December, with many details that still need fixing, such as a light in the middle and the leather chairs. There will be two more pilot-events on the 20th and 26th December, and as of January, it will be fully running. So we dined in «a place where you can go back to the roots, where you can listen to, meditate, create. Where you can teach, train, and research. An intimate, exclusive place, where flavours are enhanced, where you can go into depth, find peace, and make space for human relations».

All this «used to be a dream. Today it’s called Authentica, the new dining room at Pepe in Grani» in Caiazzo, Caserta, the town all the world now knows thanks to Franco PepePepe is a person who feeds on visions and doubts. When the latter cast a shadow on an idea, he abandons it. In the alley dedicated to San Giovanni Battista, a pizzeria that spreads across three floors, a garden and a terrace, the pizzaiolo from Caserta created a pizzeria within the pizzeria.

With two ovens on the ground floor, and a kneading room on the first, Authentica appeared between the bedrooms on the top floor. It’s a very first in the world of pizza. For sure, Pepe is not the only one who can make a thousand high quality pizzas in just one night. But he’s the first to present a private room for pizza, which includes the oven too. All this detached from the main kitchen.

In order to create this, he removed the bathroom on the same floor, and made a hole in a bearing wall so as to unite a room in the adjacent building. A square room, with a wood oven in the left corner opposite the entrance where one can put one, perhaps two pizzas at a time. In front of it, there’s a tall, slightly curved table, the slice of a circumference. On the oven’s side, there’s the work top, on the other, the chairs. The pizzaiolo kneads with his back to the oven, then holds the shovel, turns around and slips the pizza inside. Eight, ten guests at most with whom Pepe can speak, show the different phases of his work, invite them to roll out the dough, season it and put it in the oven too. Or there can be themed dinners, and not cooking classes, presenting products, a preview of a recipe, books, people.

«In this room I can create a close relationship, something impossible in a real pizzeria. I would like guests to enter my world, create an intimacy, a complicity between the worker and the guest enjoying his work. It’s the goal in a journey that started in 2011 when I brought architect Beniamino Di Fusco to visit what was then a ruin, and later became Pepe in grani».

Franco was excited on Thursday. A man who has more doubts than certainties, he carefully replied to questions, alternating them with nine pizzas, eight savoury ones and the ninth as a sweet thanks to the apricots form Vesuvius. He also spoke of his father who «would wear a suit in the morning and walk by the newsagent’s to buy a copy of Roma. He then put it under his arm, and, two hundred metres later, he was already in the pizzeria.

There, he got changed and wore his pizzaiolo trousers and t-shirt. On his head, a hat made with paper from bags of flour. He was proud of his job and would never leave home already dressed for kneading. At lunchtime, I would work in turns with my brother Nino: one would go home to our mother’s, the other would stay with dad, by the oven. The next day, vice versa. We never ate together, so as not to leave one of our parents alone. I remember all the sounds of my childhood, the aroma of my mother’s salted cod meatballs, plates clinking. Authentica will allow me to find rediscover the artisan that is in me, from whom I was detaching myself because Pepe in grani now has many facets».

For info on Authentica call +39.0823.862718.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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