On Wednesday 9th December pizza was once again featured in Striscia la Notizia, a Masterpiece of Italian cuisine that has little to do with the common Italian cuisine. Matteo Aloe, owner with his brother Salvatore of Berberè, 13 restaurants between Bologna, Torino, Milan, Florence, Rome and London, has one in the menu that is truly unusual, and has urged Enzo Iacchetti to present it as the pizza of Fiorentina [the football club] surprising Ezio Greggio – they are the new hosts of Antonio Ricci's show: «Fiorentina's pizza? Fiorentina is not a pizza». In fact it is.
Matteo and Salvatore Aloe, with the brigade of one of their thirteen pizzerias
Viola [purple] recalls many things, as I said at the beginning of the show: a colour, a football team, rebellion, music and thanks to the Aloe brothers it is also a pizza. It's a beautiful story because the recipe doesn't include any mozzarella or tomato, which are the pillars of pizza. It's all based on beetroot. We'll get there.
The Aloe are from Calabria, from Catanzaro. They both studied Economics in Bologna, then opened the first restaurant in Castel Maggiore, on the outskirts of Bologna, in a shopping centre. Ten years ago they called the pizzeria Berberè. Why so? Matteo says: «Because berbere is a spice, from Ethiopia, so much so sometimes they book thinking they'll find the cuisine of the Horn of Africa. We chose this name to give a fresh touch. Since it's made with a mix of different spices, like curry, we wanted to focus more on the setting, on the dough, compared to the average pizzerias that you could find ten years ago. We wanted people to know we had a mix of expertise».
Trivia fact: you're in London, how do Londoners take your philosophy? «Londoners have always been very openminded, and therefore they're easy to conquer if you make something good».
And how was the Pizza Viola born? «It was born having a vegan, essential offer in mind. It's divisive, you either love it or ignore it. This was especially the case until we added the feta cheese. Naturally it's no longer vegan but this way we contrast the sweetness of the beetroot, the leeks alone were not enough. It's also easy to make at home because it's easy to find steamed beetroot and you don't have to add anything, you just blend them and use them to replace the tomato sauce and then you put the pizza in the oven. In the meantime, we fry the leeks with some oil, just five minutes, and a drop of water if we want them softer. Once the base is out of the oven, we add the leeks, the crumbled feta and some black olives».
Ezio Greggio and Enzo Iacchetti in the studios of Striscia la notizia
How about the oven, and its temperature? At Berberè the temperature is around 350°C, 100 more for Neapolitan pizza, but what if at home you can't go beyond 250°C? «Usually, when baking at home you shouldn't go beyond 12 minutes and always keep an eye because ovens differ and react in a different way». Duly noted.
Final trivia fact: if you want a stronger flavour, what's better, pepper or chilli pepper? «I learnt to eat very hot foot in London, and then of course I'm from Calabria. So I'd add lots of chilli pepper».
By clicking here you'll find the recipe for Pizza Viola, while here is the episode.
born in Milan in March 1955, at Il Giornale for 31 years dividing himself between sports and food, since 2004 he's the creator and curator of Identità Golose.