Fabrizio Mancinetti, from England, a new face for contemporary pizza

He left with a dream in his suitcase: «What did I want to do? Of course, I wanted to become a pizzaiolo». He did it, in Bath... Here’s his story

04-03-2020
Fabrizio Mancinetti is the talented pizzaiolo fro

Fabrizio Mancinetti is the talented pizzaiolo from The Oven, high quality in Bath, in England

«When I grew up, I wanted to be a pizzaiolo».

Perhaps this was not the most common ambition for a teenager, nor was it love at first sight, but the magnetic force of dough started to charm Fabrizio Mancinetti when he was 14 years old and was already working in Anguillara Sabazia, on Lake Bracciano, to earn some pocket money on top of the weekly allowance his mother, a cook, gave him. He waited on tables – something he still enjoys, so much so one can often find him in this role, even now he runs the gigantic restaurant engine of The Oven in Bath -, but he kept on being attracted by the oven, trying to get a glimpse of the miraculous leavening rituals, and follow the bread-making gestures.

Perhaps it was not the most common teenage ambition, nor was it really a choice, but to fulfil it, staying in his village would not be enough, since finding a job there turned out to be difficult. Instead, at only 22, when he was on holiday in the UK, he asked for a job in an Italian restaurant as a joke: in no time he was in the kitchen. In fact – as this was obviously written in the stars, he was at the pizza counter.

«During the interview, I said I could make Neapolitan pizza even though this was not true», he recalls and confesses only now that he’s been nominated best pizzaiolo in England: indeed in 2016 he won the Pizza chef of the Yearaward at the Papa Industry Awards thanks to his Pizza with hazelnut cream, cooked prosciutto, nduja from Calabria, fresh figs and purple basil, which is still one of the most popular among the 3,000 or so he bakes each week at The Oven, «even though my favourite – but this was to be expected – is pizza Margherita».

The Oven

The Oven

Many things have rapidly changed since the days when Fabrizio was learning the profession of pizzaiolo in that miniscule Italian restaurant that hired him. He promptly decided to study seriously – what with books and exercises – the endless subject of dough and flour, and soon got the award for the best pizza in Bath. Then the owner of what was to become The Oven asked him to take care of the opening of his large pizzeria as head chef.

«I never had a real teacher – he says. – I’m self-trained, I have made countless mistakes, and learnt countless times». An accelerated training which soon led him to meet Petra® Molino Quaglia, «because when you go to war, you firstly need a good rifle».

Petra then chose him a selected partner and ambassador. Mancinetti is working on a new take on the Neapolitan dough, «a classic version I aspire to make better by making it more airy and with a very high hydration of up to 78% thanks to the mix made of stone-milled Petra 1, which helps preserve the noble bran component and the wheat germ, and Petraviva, a flour rich in wheat which causes a faster leavening and an easier digestibility».

An always evolving experimental work that says a lot about Fabrizio’s approach: who while he’s now become the executive chef of the entire restaurant group that includes pizzeria The Oven, he still continues to dedicate all his time to the research not of the perfect dough, but of a dough of which he can be truly proud, one that meets his standards.

One of Mancinetti’s pizzas

One of Mancinetti’s pizzas

«Truth is, kneading is an art because it is a creative work. Its only limit is imagination», he says with the tone of voice of someone who has surrendered to the fact that that old charm has turned into unquestionable love: «Every day I want to acquire a new knowledge and competence. I might never finish to explore new roads, always trying new techniques, aiming for lightness and crispiness, digestibility and also aroma».

Mancinetti awarded at the Papa Industry Awards

Mancinetti awarded at the Papa Industry Awards

An aroma, one has to admit, that is often still an impalpable trace in the world of pizza and which Fabrizio is not satisfied to seek only in the ingredients, tomatoes and mozzarella above all, which he gets always fresh from Italy - «When I grew up we had a vegetable garden and some hens. At home, we always bought food from small shops. To me small producers are still the first choice and I would never accept compromises in this respect» - but which he wants to extract from his flour too: «This is why I prefer to use always fermented dough like biga and poolish, so that in my pizza there is always (and more and more) the authentic aroma of wheat».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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