Fernando Darin and Corrado Scaglione, Neapolitan variations

The two pizzaioli have very different styles but their reflections are based on the same tradition

10-10-2017

Fernando Darin from Ray’s & Stark Bar inside the Museum of Modern Art in Los Angeles and Corrado Scaglione of Enosteria Lipen, in Triuggio, Brianza (photo by Brambilla/Serrani)

«Many people abroad believe we only eat pasta or pizza. And it is partly true», starts Paolo Marchi at Identità Chicago day 2, «Today, like yesterday, we’re here to present two pizzaioli with very wide horizons: a Neapolitan who lives in Brianza and one of Italian origins born in Brazil and now working in California».

The establishment of the first speaker, Enosteria Lipen, is in Triuggio, Brianza. But Corrado Scaglione has the south in his Dna. So who better than him could explain the guidelines for Neapolitan pizza, established in 1984, to the American audience?

«There are 4 ingredients: water, flour, salt and yeast. But there’s a fifth, passion. If you don’t have it, you’ll never manage to control all the variables to which the dough is subjected: temperature, weather, movements, technique...».

Meanwhile, he starts kneading in a typical wood kitchen chest: «I make the dough from a batter of water, salt and flour. I add the yeast later». He then leaves it to rest so that the flour can absorb the water. You need technical skills and an understanding of the flour, Petra in this case: «The flour is crucial. In Naples it’s just white flour, “Il fiore della farina” made from the inner part of the wheat grain. I change 3 types of flour every year, depending on the season».

Scaglione's pizza

Scaglione's pizza

When the dough is ready, he starts making balls. «The first piece you take is called stallio. Then you do the mozzatura, the same gesture used to rip mozzarella». He cuts the dough with a knife, and immediately notes the effects of the air. «There’s a big debate on leavening: I use 30 hours. And this results in the size indicated by the guidelines: from 28 to 33 cm in diameter for 300 grams maximum».

It’s the baking, however, that defines Neapolitan pizza most of all, «It is soft because it’s very similar to bread and is cooked for 60/90 seconds at 400°C, in a wood oven only». Before then, the way you roll it out is essential: «You need to preserve all that happened to the dough, the air created by the leavening. And the gluten must be as little as possible, to make it easier to digest». The fingers’ pressure creates the edge and slap.

So this is the base of Neapolitan pizza. In Chicago Scaglione interpreted it in Sensazioni di Corrado, a pizza with buffalo milk mozzarella, Piennolo tomatoes, lard from Arnad, crispy fried onions from Tropea, dill and basil. It’s based on a simple principle: «Pizza must be topped with excellent and easy to understand ingredients. If there’s too much stuff on top, there’s less emotion».

Darin's Pizza di mare

Darin's Pizza di mare

It’s now the turn of fun Fernando Darin. Grandparents from Belluno, he grew up in Brazil with Portuguese and African influences. For the past 3 years he’s been running Ray’s & Stark Bar inside the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art. «My love for pizza is very recent: I was fed up with putting drops of oil in a precise way. I always loved fire, so I connected the dots and realised I had to approach pizza».

«With humility I tried to understand Neapolitan pizza. I was anxious, thinking of the very strong competition I was to face in Los Angeles. Meeting Nancy Silverton of Pizzeria Mozza, a real authority, made me feel better. She convinced me to make my pizza, not necessarily Neapolitan pizza».

The Pizza Di Mare he pulled out of Eataly’s ovens stood out thanks to its eccentric topping: sea urchins from Santa Barbara, clams, parsley and garlic sauce, bottarga, burrata and Fresno chillies.

He gave us his recipe for the electric oven («1000 g of flour, 30 g of salt, 5 g of yeast, 700 g of water»), told us the mantra of the importance of the t&t variables, time and temperature, and a sentence we’ll never forget: «It is essential for us pizzaioli to share ideas».

Fernando Darin, Sarah Minnick, Vince Gerasole, Piero Gabrieli, Corrado Scaglione and Paolo Marchi

Fernando Darin, Sarah Minnick, Vince Gerasole, Piero Gabrieli, Corrado Scaglione and Paolo Marchi

THE MEETING. Speaking of sharing ideas, at the end of their lesson Scaglione and Darin were joined by colleague Sarah Minnick and Piero Gabrieli of Molino Quaglia. Moderated by Vince Gerasole, they gave life to a brief but intense debate on the theme of localism (important for all of them), flour origin («Italy now imports 70% of the wheat for flour, it’s tragic», explained Gabrieli) and the trend of ancient wheat varieties, often an irrational mania. Finally, they all agreed that: «Over the past few years», Darin summed up, «pizza has acquired an unprecedented respect».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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