Stefano Callegari

Sforno

via Statilio Ottato, 110
Roma
+39.06.71546118

Stefano Callegari is not a pizza-chef. He is, in fact, pizza. A little because of his round figure. A bit thanks to his contagious smile, like the hunger that strikes you as soon as your eye glimpses the slightly burnt edge of a pizza Margherita comme-il-faut. Therefore, he had to be the writer of beautiful stories that had as their protagonist the Giottesque diva on the tables of all the world.

What new can you say when you’re talking about pizza? In Rome, a few years ago, it was already news if you simply made a good pizza. And Stefano launched himself in this basic business: the invention of pizza. A genius! He did so on the outskirts of town (the same sung by pop-singer Eros Ramazzotti, in Cinecittà), in his cult-pizzeria Sforno, where he imposed on the neighbourhood clientele, and later one that come from far away, the cult for mother yeast (pray for us) and masterpieces such as pizza Cacio e Pepe (a milestone experience. Nothing will ever be the same), the surprising Greenwich with blue stilton and Porto reduction, the Fumo with smoked provola and Sudtirol speck. And then there are the fantastic fried dishes and not the liver-terrorists that for decades have sabotaged the medium-quality pizzerias in Rome. And there’s also a good range of artisan beers – today you can find them also at the supermarket but years ago someone had to think about it.

In this way, Stefano has dared what couldn’t be dared. For instance: challenging Neapolitan pizza makers in “contests” dedicated to pizza Margherita and he didn’t only lose badly, but sometimes he won, or at least he got even. A true triumph for the representative of a city in which, a few decades ago, it was said that they made perhaps the worst pizza in a dish in Italy (a legal action followed). Then he opened Tonda, in Monte Sacro, together with his close friend Antonio Praticcò, exporting his now tested formula in another part of the Roman outskirts – sold-out every night. Here, the pizza-man treated himself to an oven that was custom-made by the Ferrara, a family of artisans who make the... Ferrari of ovens. Around that custom-built treasure, he dances softly and happy, oblivious of his silhouette.

How about trapizzino? This indeed is, tout-court, an invention. This is, for the sake of the reader, a corner of Roman-style “white” pizza (in the inescapable shape of a sandwich) opened and filled with a more American than Italian abundance, of traditional Roman cuisine: trippa, coratella, picchiapò, meatballs in tomato sauce, amatriciana, squid and peas, tongue. It’s a scarpetta da asporto, something that you could mop up the sauce with, only a take-away version, as Stefano loves to define it. He offers it in his third restaurant, the 00100 (Rome’s zip code, and at the same time a homage to 00 flour) he opened a few years ago in Testaccio as a personal tribute to the edification of a Roman street food itinerary.

With his trapizzino, Callegari recently surprised even New Yorkers, who are difficult to surprise on any ground, presenting his Pythagoran delicacies at the Madison Square food festival. And since we’re talking of edible toponymy, when, some day, they will name a road after Callegari (it’s always better than after some member of Parliament) underneath they will write: “Inventor of trapizzino”. And many of those who will see this plaque will dedicate some grateful thoughts, full of warm gastric juices, to this great man.

 

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Stefano Callegari was born in Rome on Christmas day in 1968. He’s the creator of Sforno, 00100 and Tonda, three restaurants in which the art of pizza making is best stated in the capital. He has managed – together with few others – to make a pizzeria enter the dressed up gastronomic guides.

by

Andrea Cuomo

Roman, now living in Milan, sommelier, he's reporter of Il Giornale. He's been writing about taste for years