Nancy Silverton was the guest of Franco Pepe and his Pepe In Grani, for the Authentica 10 dinner series, celebrating ten years since the pizzeria's opening (2012-2022)
We have written on many occasions about Authentica, the project of the outstanding pizzaiolo Franco Pepe, who has built a pizzeria within his celebrated pizzeria Pepe In Grani in Caiazzo. Beginning in December 2017, when Paolo Marchi gave a preview of its genesis.
A room detached from the rest of the pizzeria, on the top floor of the building that houses it: a small, contemporary wood-burning oven, a counter for rolling out and seasoning pizzas, but also for seating a maximum of ten diners. An opportunity for meeting, for exchange, for dialogue between those who cook and those who eat. "A model that brings us closer to the rituals of the pizza chef and his oven, in the intimacy of the signature pizza," we wrote in our Guide 2023, awarding Authentica (along with two other signs) as the best Chef's Table of the year.
To celebrate Pepe In Grani's tenth anniversary, in 2023 Franco Pepe is organising a series of meetings, under the title Authentica 10: gastronomic dialogues with fellow chefs and pizza makers, for which that special room is the perfect theatre, as happened on the 2nd of May, with the meeting between Pepe and Californian Nancy Silverton, star of bread-making, Italian cuisine and pizza in the USA (recounted, as was also the case for Franco Pepe, in an episode of the Netflix documentary Chef's Table).
Here, Authentica is above all this: a direct and powerful tool to get to the heart of the work and vision of Franco Pepe, who is much more than a talented pizzaiolo. He is a man who lives for his passion, who infuses every ounce of brain and heart into his work, turning it into a kind of mission.
But how did you, Nancy Silverton, creator of enormous gastronomic success with several restaurants in America (including Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles, located next door to the pizzeria, with a Michelin star) and beyond, meet Franco Pepe? "Thanks to a friend whom you also know well," she replies with a smile full of warmth, "Faith Willinger. One day, when Pepe In Grani had just opened, Faith called me. She told me that she has eaten the best pizza of her life, that I absolutely had to try it. But it was in Caiazzo! I couldn't come there immediately: then I took advantage of my home in Umbria, where I've been going for 30 years. And one evening I finally arrived at Franco's: it was love at first bite, as we say where I come from.’
Nancy Silverton busy with the first baking tests of her pizzas in the Authentica oven: at her side Herbert Yuen, executive chef of Pizzeria Mozza
'I prepared the pre-ferment at my home in Umbria. Then it travelled all the way here, which as you know is not the best way to preserve its characteristics: here I prepared my dough yesterday, using the tools Franco provided me with great emotion. My pizza bakes at a different temperature from his: between 300° and 350°, for about six minutes. While Franco's bakes for 90 seconds at a much higher temperature: we'll have to manage to calibrate the oven in the right way, alternating cooking, and I hope to be able to demonstrate that even a different version of pizza can be delicious.’
Tasting with friend Franco
The version of the so-called 'Italian salad' found in US pizzerias becomes Nancy's Chopped Salad at Mozza
The accompanying focaccia, prepared by Franco Pepe
Fried Pepperoni Cone
Sun on a plate
Crisommola, fried cone version
Fennel Sausage Pizza
Three protagonists of Chef's Table in one photo: Nancy Silverton and Franco Pepe with the pizza dedicated to Dario Cecchini, in live streaming
Porchetta for Dario Cecchini
Group photo with part of the Pepe In Grani brigade. On the left, holding the celebratory 'cake' of Authenitca 10, Elizabeth Hong, executive chef of Osteria Mozza
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
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Journalist, based in Milan. At 8 years old, he received a Springsteen record as a gift, and nothing was the same since. Music and food are his passions. Author and broadcaster at Radio Popolare since 1997, since 2014 he became part of the staff of Identità Golose
All photos are by Brambilla-Serrani
Franco Pepe, born in 1963, from Caiazzo, Caserta. He opened Pepe in Grani in 2012, to rapid and universal acclaim. You can follow his masterclass at Identità on the road by registering on Identità on the road