Who’s Francesco Martucci, the other number one

The maestro from Caserta won the first place, together with Franco Pepe. «My pizza is, indeed, “my” pizza. It has a personal identity»

04-10-2019
Francesco Martucci, patron-pizzaiolo at I Masanie

Francesco Martucci, patron-pizzaiolo at I Masanielli in Caserta

The ex aequo award that has Franco Pepe and Francesco Martucci share the top of the 50 Top Pizza list is perhaps not appreciated by everyone, but it does give a clear picture of how things are: if on one hand it restates the leadership of Caserta (and its province), which over the past year has found a place on the national scene, on the other it acknowledges the skill and commitment of Martucci. They both are, in some way, extraordinary.

While it is true that it takes years of hard work to learn and refine the ”art” of pizza making, it is also true that that quid that makes the difference is probably innate, or is born from deep roots. The roots of Martucci are all in Caserta, marked by a youth that was not easy, by a road uphill that had him work, since his childhood, as the errand boy in the pizzeria of his uncle Franco, where he learnt not only to ammaccare [shape the pizza]but also discipline.

Martucci first place in the 50 Top Pizza

Martucci first place in the 50 Top Pizza

After working his way up the ladder, in 2001 he opened the first I Masanielli place with his brother Sasà: at first, it was only take away. Then it became a real pizzeria, with no frills but homely. The name of Martucci starts to pop up around thanks to his very light dough and well-prepared seasoning, and thanks to his ability to put together a popular spirit and a more contemporary pizza.

Margherita: San Marzano PDO tomato, fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil from Koinè

Margherita: San Marzano PDO tomato, fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil from Koinè

La Parmiggggiana

La Parmiggggiana

The following phase is smoother: in September 2017 Francesco opens the new I Masanielli in Viale Dohuet. A large and modern place, designed with attention, right in front of Caserta’s Royal Palace (meanwhile, Sasà opened I Masanielli - Sasà Martucci in Via Vivaldi), which soon becomes one of the most popular destinations among lovers of pizza “in the style of Caserta”. Yet he’s not so much interested in style as in his personal take: «My pizza is, indeed, very “mine”. It has a personal identity which I developed over these years, the result of the many notions I’ve acquired by studying and going around, by questioning myself day after day. I believe a product belongs to its maker, for good and for bad. Which means he can also make a mess with the seasoning».

Martucci at work 

Martucci at work 

This is rather unlikely in his case, seeing that his pizzas are good both because of the dough – which is soft, very light, and airy – and because of the toppings, which are creative and always very balanced, as well as because of the obsessive attention paid to the baking.  As in the case of Riccia di Mammà, now a cult, with buffalo milk burrata, anchovies form Trapani, olives from Caiazzo, capers from Salina, yellow cherry tomatoes, Piennolo cherry tomatoes and curly endive. 

Riccia di Mammá: buffalo milk burrata, anchovies from Trapani, olives from Caiazzo, capers from Salina, yellow cherry tomatoes, Piennolo cherry tomatoes, curly endive 

Riccia di Mammá: buffalo milk burrata, anchovies from Trapani, olives from Caiazzo, capers from Salina, yellow cherry tomatoes, Piennolo cherry tomatoes, curly endive 

Cream of roasted date tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala campana PDO, onion from Tropea, katsuobushi

Cream of roasted date tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala campana PDO, onion from Tropea, katsuobushi

Tuna and onion according to Martucci: tuna belly, onion from Alife sautéed with butter from Normandy 

Tuna and onion according to Martucci: tuna belly, onion from Alife sautéed with butter from Normandy 

«First fried at two temperatures, then baked so as to create a surprising play of temperature shocks, and give the right texture. It tastes like ragù sauce cooked for 12 hours and the choice of the Lampadina tomato is a tribute to Marianna D'Auria. To finish, jowl bacon from grey Ardesia pigs and shin with a smooth rind»

«First fried at two temperatures, then baked so as to create a surprising play of temperature shocks, and give the right texture. It tastes like ragù sauce cooked for 12 hours and the choice of the Lampadina tomato is a tribute to Marianna D'Auria. To finish, jowl bacon from grey Ardesia pigs and shin with a smooth rind»


READ ALSO: Caserta is more and more the capital of pizza​, Paolo Marchi


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