What is Espresso?

Espresso is coffee brewed from beans roasted medium to dark brown, with the brewing accomplished by hot water forced through a bed of finely-ground, densely-compacted coffee at a pressure of approximately nine atmospheres. The resulting heavy-bodied, aromatic, bittersweet beverage is often combined with milk that has been heated and aerated by having steam run through it until the milk is hot and covered by a head of froth.

Definition From SCAA

The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) defines espresso as “a 25-35 ml beverage prepared from 7-9 grams of coffee through which clean water of 195°- 205°F (92°-95°C) has been forced at 9-10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brewing ‘flow’ time is approximately 20-30 seconds.” This defines what is commonly referred to as a “single shot” of espresso. Many modern espresso beverages double the liquid volume as well as the dose of coffee, and the SCAA further recommends that espresso be prepared specifically for, and immediately served to, its intended customer.

Espresso Ristretto, Corto (Italy) or Short

The restricted or short espresso carries the “small is beautiful” espresso philosophy to its ultimate: The flow of espresso is cut short at about 3/4 ounce or less than a third of a demitasse (Italy) to 1 1/4 ounces or one-half of a demitasse, producing an even denser, more aromatic cup of espresso than the norm.

Double or Doppio

Double serving, or about 2 1/2 ounces 5 ounces of straight espresso, made with twice the amount of ground coffee as a single serving.

Espresso Lungo or Long

An espresso pull with much more water (generally twice as much), resulting in a stretched espresso is called lungo.

A lungo is less strong, but more bitter, because the additional hot water passing through the ground coffee extracts components that would normally remain undissolved. The more water is passed through the coffee grounds, the more bitter and watery the shot tastes.

Americano and Long black

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If you are looking for an amazing place to have your coffee, come to our Ironside cafe!

We know it’s hard to believe, but there’s more to pizza than pepperoni.

We’ve got nothing but mad love for classic pizzas, but sometimes, you just gotta get a little crazy. These unconventional pizza toppings might convince you never to go back to pepperoni again.

Mushroom-Fontina Pizza With A Fried Egg

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When in doubt on how to make any meal, including pizza, more tasty, #putaneggonit.

Pizza With Swiss Chard, Sausage, And Mozzarella

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Proof that making your own pizza is not pie in the sky.

Flatbread Pizzas With Pesto, Corn, Goat Cheese, And Sundried Tomatoes

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Corn on pizza = revelation.

BBQ Chicken Skillet Pizza

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Recreate the CPK fave with this insanely delicious homemade pie.

Peach, Ricotta, and Honey Grilled Pizza

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Grilling your pizza=game changer.

Bacon-And-Egg Pizza

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Leftover pizza for breakfast is good…but this is better.

Cobb Salad Pizza

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Lettuce never tasted so good.

Spinach-Artichoke Pizza

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Put your favorite creamy dip right on top of a pizza.

Cheesy Bacon-Broccoli Pizza

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Damn, broccoli. Pizza looks good on you.

Tex-Mex Pizza

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The only thing that could possibly improve pizza is avocado.

Spanish Tapas Pizza

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This pizza topped with Manchego, onions, and peppers is full of tapas-inspired flavors.

Moroccan Pizza

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Whatever, Hawaiian pizza. This sweet and savory Moroccan pizza is where it’s at.

Cheeseburger Pizza

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We may have found something better than a bun.

Figs, Rosemary, And Parmesan Grilled Pizza

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Tomato sauce, who?

Ham And Cheese Pizza

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We’ll take this over a sandwich any day.

Sweet Potato, Kielbasa, And Red Onion Pizza

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And you can use store-bought dough to make this even easier.

Chicken, Artichoke, And Blue Cheese Pizza

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Blue cheese is going to change everything you thought you felt about mozzarella.

Lemon And Smoked-Mozzarella Pizza

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A little smoky, a little zesty, a whole lot of good.

Hummus And Grilled-Zucchini Pizzas

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Take your hummus and pita addiction to the next-level.

Turkish Ground-Lamb Pizzas

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To make this pizza even better, bake it with an egg on top.

Sweet Potato, Balsamic Onion, And Soppressata Pizza

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Mashed potatoes on pizza? Bring it on.

Blueberry, Feta And Honey-Caramelized Onion Naan Pizza

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You’ll become instantly addicted to this sweet and salty pizza.

Shrimp Scampi Pizza

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You love it as a pasta, so why not pizza?

Grilled Cherry, Goat Cheese, And Arugula Pizza

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This is basically the prettiest pizza we’ve ever seen.

Sloppy Joe Pizza

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Beautiful things happen when you think outside the bun.

Strawberry Balsamic & Goat Cheese Pizza

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Your new favorite way to eat strawberries doesn’t involve dessert.

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If you are looking for the best pizza in Miami come and visit us, take a look at our Italian pizza menu and find your favorite pizza!

When I tell people I’m vegan, they often say “that must be so challenging to eat vegan!” Well, no, I think it’s really easy actually.

At home being vegan is as easy as eating any other kind of diet. I only buy vegan groceries, so therefore I only have vegan food in my house. When I go to grab a snack or make a meal, I don’t even have to give it a second thought because my only options are vegan food. It’s not like I look in my fridge and see cheesy dishes and chicken wings!

The only part of a vegan diet that can be challenging is dining out. All of the control is in someone else’s hands. But, I LOVE going to restaurants. So what do I do? Here are my tips for how to eat vegan at any restaurant (and not order salad).

Call Ahead

As someone who is horribly phone shy (I get nervous just ordering a pizza), this tip is not my favourite, but it’s REALLY helpful. If you have plans to go to a restaurant and you aren’t sure of the vegan options, just give them a ring and ask. If the restaraunt really doesn’t have any vegan options, you can change your plans, (although I have never had that response before). It also let’s the chef know ahead of time that you are coming so if they want to prepare something special they have the time to do so. Then when you get to the restaurant you can relax because you already know the options. I have even called a restaurant and been thrilled and surprised when I was told they had a separate vegan menu! I wouldn’t have know that unless I asked. You can also try looking the menus up online, but it can sometimes not be clear if items are actually vegan, so I always suggest a call.

Be Clear

When I first made the switch, I hated saying the dreaded word “vegan” as I was somehow worried chefs would get mad at me. This isn’t true. I have heard from both chef and waiter friends that they much prefer someone being clear in their limitations so they can address it correctly and without confusion. When you first walk into a restaurant, if you haven’t called ahead, ask the greeter about vegan options. They will be able to tell you before you even sit down. If there is no greeter, ask the server right away. The last thing you want to happen is that you already have your drinks, everyone places an order and then you realize there is nothing for you to eat. Asking as soon as possible ensures a relaxing dining experience.

Be Nice

When you ask, just be polite. You don’t have to shout at the world, don’t make a million demands, and don’t try to deconstruct the ingredient list, just ask if there are any vegan-friendly options with a smile on your face. Not everyone understands what vegan is, so if they don’t know, help them out by just telling them what you don’t eat. No animal cruelty talk here, this isn’t the place or time. If you’re nice, people will be nice right back.

Look for the Codes

Menus often have little icons next to items that indicate which items are vegan or vegetarian, just like they do if it is spicy. Sometimes it’s a little “v”, sometimes a leaf, or other fun icons. Just look for the guide so you can know what they stand for.

Be a Clever Subber

Most menus have vegetarian options which can easily be made vegan. Just ask if the dairy or egg can be removed from the dish to make it vegan-friendly. Sometimes when you remove an ingredient the dish might need something else to boost it up a notch, so what I like to do is peruse around the menu and if I see another ingredient I think would be great, I might ask for a substitution. A good example of this is if I am ordering a veggie burrito, I would ask for the cheese and sour cream to be removed and instead replace it with guacamole. Saying the word sub or replace is key because then hopefully they don’t charge you extra! Sometimes if there are no main dishes that are easily made vegan, I will look to the sides. Often there are lots of side dishes that are vegan-friendly, or can be adapted, so I will order a big plate of those.

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If you’ve ever asked yourself:  Where’s the best vegan pizza near me? Then you haven’t tried the best one! Visit our restaurant and try original Italian pizza we also offer prepared for vegans!

How innovation made an American favorite easier to deliver and better to eat

Here’s the technology problem: you’ve got a warm, moisture-emitting object that also contains relatively dry components that you need to get from Point A to Point B with their form, heat, and chemical composition intact. Oh, and the top of the object is covered with a sticky, viscous substance. And you need to be able to do it by the millions, so the solution has to be cheap and mass producible.

The solution to this problem is the modern corrugated pizza box, which helps get a big chunk of the three billion pizzas sold each year in the United States to happy customers.

Yes, the box in which your pizza comes in is a marvel of minor but well-formed proportions. The constraints of the problem are clear. Take the sogginess problem. If you completely seal up this object, the moisture will make its drier parts soggy. If you vent it too much, you’ll lose the heat.

“All design involves choice, and the choices often have to be made to satisfy competing constraints,” avers engineer-author Henry Petroski in talking about plastic tripods in pizza boxes (more on those later).

Since at least the 1800s, the bakers of Naples have had a solution for the problem of transporting pizza. They put hot pies into metal containers known as stufas and sent young touts into the streets to sell the food. The stufa was a round, vented tin or copper container with shelves that held the pizzas apart from one another.

While that might have worked for the streets of Naples — or other dense cities — it wasn’t going to work for the delivery business. There were two solutions to the problem for the exploding post-war American pizza market. First, there were regular old boxes, but those had a major defect. The moisture from the pizza would make the box all floppy. Oil could end up seeping easily through the bottom, too. Second, as described by Scott Weiner, who I would say is the undisputed expert on pizza mobility solutions, you could *bag* the pizza.

“In the 1940’s, lots of pizza purveyors offered take-out pies,” Weiner writes. “The pizza would sit on a stiff corrugated base, which could slide snugly into a large paper bag.”

The bag, while it kept heat in and allowed some moisture to escape, provided no protection for the pizza’s face. They worked OK for take-out, but what about delivery? It’s hard to transport more than one pie in a bag.

In the traditional story of the pizza box, Tom Monaghan’s pizza empire, Domino’s, developed the corrugated box in the early 1960s, marking a major advance in pizza technology. These wonder boxes could be stacked. They had vents. All around, the flatpacked, foldable corrugated pizza box was one of those small inventions that seem almost inevitable after someone comes up with it.

What’s fascinating is that many, many people were trying. Teasing apart all the strands of the patent literature on the point of paper products for transporting food is nearly impossible nowadays. Domino’s held no patents on their box, as far as I can tell, and there were dozens of other people who had solutions for packaging pizzas that were very similar to the ones we use now. (Oddly, bacon package design seems to have been top of mind for pizza box designers. Not sure why, but I understand it.) Advances in paper production and market demand for disposable food containers combined to send lots of inventors charging into the box space.

Whoever or however the standard corrugated pizza box came into being, it is the event around which pizza packaging history revolves, moving from Before Corrugation to After Domino’s. Most pizza places still use this fifty-year-old technology in one form or another.

But that’s not to say that there hasn’t been any innovation in the pizza box space. FAR FROM IT!

Inside most pizza boxes now, right in the center of the container, you’ll find a plastic tripod often shaped like a mid-century modern table. It holds up the center of the pizza box to avoid cardboard smashing down on the cheese on the top of the pizza. Petroski has a hilarious discussion of how much people like these things in his book, Small Things Considered. A caller to a radio program starts things off by gushing over them.

“The engineer confessed to having saved some of the humble devices as examples of clever functional design that he thought he might write about some day,” Petroski writes. “No one called in to ask for a better description of the throwaway thing, or to offer its name. But such identifications were not needed for it to be recognized, admired for its ingenuity, and appreciated for its purpose.”

It was one of a number of tweaks to the pizza box (venting configurations, say) that have improved upon the old designs. Now, some boxes designed for easier recycling, or come with holders for dipping sauces, or transform into plates. Like everything else, pizza boxes have gone niche and they can be made to order for very specific food transport situations.

But there is another near universal pizza delivery enhancement: the insulated sleeve. You know the thing I’m talking about. It’s what the delivery guy pulls your pizza out of. It’s worth noting, I think, for the idea it embodies. Petroski said that all design requires one to work with constraints. In the pizza case, as we’ve discussed, the big one is the moisture/heat retention continuum. The more closed you keep the box, the more heat stays in, but the greater the chance that the moisture ruins the crust.

The pizza sleeve designs *around* that constraint. Some designer (who probably worked for Domino’s) said, “Let’s separate out the heat retaining and moisture battling components of the box.” Vent to your heart’s content to control moisture, but keep the pizza in an insulated sleeve, so that the heat stays in. The pizza and the box stay the same, but the system of delivery changes. That’s brilliant.

Now that pizza delivery containers have reached a sufficient level of advanced development, I think it’s about time our nation’s engineers turned their eyes on an even tougher problem that’s long stumped the country’s growing Latino population. Investors, on behalf of my whole family, particularly my father, I implore you to explore this question: how do you keep corn tortillas warm and pliant?

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When it comes to pizza and diverse offers, our Italian pizza menu is packed with flavorful and different types of pizzas! We also have vegan pizza. Come to our pizza and cafe place in Ironside.

Chicago, New York, stuffed crust, deep dish and Sicilian are all well-known styles of pizza within the United States but one of the lesser-known styles that does not receive the credit it deserves is Neapolitan. What is Neapolitan pizza? Known for the perfect crust and excellent topping combinations, Neapolitan pizza is considered by some to be the best style ever invented. From the strict recipe guidelines and ingredients required, very few restaurants decide to take on the responsibility necessary to produce authentic Neapolitan pies. Ironside Kitchen Pizza & Coffee Co in Miami is the best spot to grab yourself a freshly baked pie that has roots that can be traced back to the seaside ports of old Italy.

Here are the best reasons that make a very strong argument for why Neapolitan pizza is considered one of the best styles ever invented.

Flour

Starting off, it may not seem important to the untrained pizza connoisseur but using the proper flour is not only a necessity for earning the right to call the pizza true Neapolitan, it is also crucial to make the best dough. The only choices you have for flour are “0” or “00”, which indicates the fineness of milling. “00” is the finest available and has the same consistency as baby powder. Flour left to sit too long will absorb moisture thus altering its makeup and reducing the accuracy of the dough recipe. This flour produces the best Neapolitan dough, which will be discussed next.  

Dough

Sea salt, water, yeast and flour are the only things used in a traditional Neapolitan pizza dough. While the ingredient list is short, the proportions are the factor that needs to be taken very seriously to achieve the perfect dough. The ratio of water to flour needs to be 1 to 3 with the correct flour. High-quality brewer’s yeast or natural Neapolitan yeast are the only two options when it comes to the type of yeast that must be used. The dough needs to be hand kneaded and pressed out to a thickness of no more than 3mm thick to achieve the iconic crust.  

Cooking

There is only one way to cook a Neapolitan pizza and that is in a wood-fired oven that reaches temperatures over 700 degrees. The extremely hot stone surface of the oven produces the iconic crust that is done in just a minute or two. The result of the proper firing of the pizza is a big bubbled, flaky and crispy crust with just a small resemblance of chewiness.  

Tomatoes

While the type of tomatoes used may seem insignificant, they are a crucial part. Only San Marzano tomatoes can be used, which are special because they are grown in the black volcanic soil in the southern foothills of Mount Vesuvius, Italy. These rich tomatoes produce the best most flavorful sauce that perfectly complements the cheese and basil of the traditional Margherita.

Cheese

Ideally, ‘Mozzarella di Bufala Campana’ is the best type of mozzarella that is made from the milk of water buffalo that are raised in the marshlands of Campania and Lazio of Italy. The second-best option that is often used is mozzarella fiordilatte, which is made from fresh cow’s milk.

Classic and Popular Variations found at Ironside Kitchen:

Margherita– this Neapolitan pizza is claimed to have been one of the very first and was created in honor and served to Queen Margherita of Italy. Topped with fresh basil, tomato, and fresh mozzarella.

Regina– the perfect crust topped with cherry tomatoes, arugula, parmigiana, prosciutto crudo, and fresh mozzarella fiordilatte.

Marinara– this simple recipe utilizes garlic, oregano, and tomato.

Formaggi– this is the Italian version of a cheese lover’s pizza. Mozzarella, smoked provola, parmigiana, gorgonzola.

To see all the delicious variations of true Neapolitan pizza found at Ironside Kitchen, visit https://pizzaironside.com/italian-pizza-ironside-miami/.

Fun, authentic Italian dining isn’t so far away in Miami. Ironside Kitchen buzzes in the heart of the historic Upper Eastside and makes sure to serve something delectable for all ages. Not only is our food family friendly, but our restaurant feel is, too. Regular customers mingle with longtime restaurant workers so that dining in feels more like heading to a neighborhood party.

Ironside Kitchen is committed to fresh and organic ingredients in their wood fired, Italian family pizza. Meats are homemade and cure, chefs use only the softest mozzarella fiordilatte and choose tactfully amongst Italian products to share with guests. Chefs accommodate vegan and gluten-free requests, too.

Getting the family together is about more than monitoring everyone’s nourishment. In fact, research shows that family dinners have a positive impact on the physical, mental and emotional habits of family members.

Five Reasons to Bring the Family in for Authentic Italian Pizza:

Ironside Kitchen is a fun, healthy family Italian restaurant. We hope to share with you not just Italy’s traditional cuisine, but the culture’s commitment to family gatherings and staying connected amongst generations. Bringing the family together fosters community, conversation, honesty and builds stronger connects amongst family members as children grow through different stages in life.

Come into Ironside Kitchen and try a slice of some of Phoenix’s best local pizza!

Ingredients

The Sauce:

The Eggplant:

Directions

I really think this is what I would eat for my last meal on Earth. It’s so simple and, when done right, sublime. I cannot stop eating this!;

The Eggplant

For the tomato sauce: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Cook until the onions become translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sugar and the canned tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to break up some of the whole tomatoes and cook 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time. Taste for seasoning, the tomatoes should be fairly broken down and the flavors coming together. Cook for another few minutes if the tomatoes still taste like they need a little more time to break down. Set aside to cool.

For the eggplant (this step is optional, leave it out if you have limited time): Arrange the eggplant rounds in a single layer on 2 baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt on both sides of each slice and allow it to sit for about 1 hour. Salting it draws out the liquid and bitter flavor. After an hour, rinse with cold water and dry them thoroughly with a kitchen towel.

Put the flour in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper. In a third bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the oregano and fresh thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Dip each eggplant slice in the flour and shake off any excess. Then, dip in the egg mixture, and finally in the breadcrumbs. Make sure to coat both sides of each slice of eggplant. Arrange them in single layers on the baking sheets.

In a large skillet, pour enough oil to accumulate about 1/2-inch in the bottom. Heat the oil until it begins to smoke lightly (alternatively, test with a thermometer and wait until the oil registers between 380 degrees F and 400 degrees F). Use a pair of kitchen tongs to add a single layer of the eggplant to the pan. Cook them until they are golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the oil and transfer to a baking sheet fitted with a kitchen towel so the eggplant can drain as the others cook. Season lightly with salt. Take care to reheat the oil back up to temperature before adding another batch of slices to the pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To assemble

In a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, spoon about 1/4 of the tomato sauce on the bottom. Top with a layer of the fried eggplant; the eggplant slices can overlap slightly. Top with about 1/3 of the mozzarella slices. Sprinkle with about 1/4 of the Parmesan and provolone cheeses. Top with a layer of torn basil leaves. Spoon sauce and repeat the layering 2 more times to make 3 layers. End with the remaining mozzarella. Carefully press the layers down firmly into the dish once assembled. Place the dish in the top part of the oven and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes. For extra browning, put the dish under the broiler for a minute or two just before serving to get an extra brown cheesy top. I always nibble on a bit of that before sharing it with my friends!

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Much of Italian life revolves around the family dinner table. Piergeorgio, our guide to food-life in Italy, grew up in Venice in the 1960’s. In this brief memoir, he recounts the feast day meals his family celebrated, as well as family dinners, when times were lean. From Italian table etiquette to the typical dishes that filled the family board, this charming story carries us right into the present day; as customs have changed with the times, the delicious foods remains the same.

It’s well known that we Italians are deeply versed in the gioie della tavola, or “the joys of the table.” Perhaps the first thing people think of when they think of Italy is the joy, warmth and magic created around the Italian table. The dinner table is one of the most enduring images and metaphors in Italian art, celebrated in our greatest paintings and films, from the Renaissance to present day. “A tavola” – or “at the table” – our hearts open, and life’s greatest dramas and celebrations unfold. Familial bonds and battles are forged a tavola; the deepest ties of love and friendship are developed and strengthened around a dinner table. We Italians understand and appreciate the magical synergy that is created when the joys of conversation and intimacy commingle with the pleasures of beautiful food and drink.

For many of us, our first experiences of family feasts and joyous gatherings leave indelible imprints, and my childhood in Venice is filled with memories of such special occasions. The word for “feast” in Italian is festa, and feasts they were: the tables were set so beautifully – silverware and glasses sparkled on the magnificent handmade tablecloth, and crystal carafes of wine and water seemed always filled. But even with extensions, the table often just wasn’t big enough. A solution was always handy: la tavola per i bambini (“the kids’ table”), and we children loved this special zone just for us. The food was always so lovingly prepared and delicious that everyone’s spirits were lifted; and as the meal progressed, the good mood grew in a kind of crescendo – helped along by family jokes, more and more boisterous play, which sometimes culminated in a few rounds of our family’s favorite songs – all accompanied by the seemingly endless flow of good wine and … more good food.

These miraculous feasts would occur on special occasions like Easter, Christmas, birthdays and religious celebrations – and went along with cherished holidays from school or work. But, for the women in the family – mothers, grandmothers, daughters, aunts – these were not leisurely days, though their joy and excitement was palpable too. The meals on such occasions would usually begin around 1:00 pm (except for Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, when dinner was served late) and would last for hours. For these feasts, there would be an antipasto; our family favorite was vitello tonnato – sliced roasted veal with a blended tuna and mayonnaise sauce. This course would be followed by lasagne alla Bolognese, or a risotto ai frutti di mare (seafood risotto), or pasticcio ai funghi – which for us was baked pasta, or a baked filled pasta (such as, tortelloni or agnolotti), with besciamella sauce and wild mushrooms. (I was crazy about lasagne, and my younger brother loved dessert, so secret deals were always being made “under the table”: he would discretely give me his second helping of lasagna and I would give him most of my dessert.) After one of these primi (first courses), came the roasted meats – such as, brasato, which was a delicious, dark, slowly stewed beef dish, or roasted veal (vitello arrosto). For dessert, we would have a simple torta (cake) or else a tiramisu. Finally, the adults would have coffee and a digestivo, such as grappa or Fernet, while we children were happy to be released from the table to run wild in the calli or fondamenta (side streets) of Venice, where no cars ever interfered with our games.

These were the special feste (plural form for “feasts”); of course, our everyday dinners were something else entirely. Growing up in a family of six kids in Venice, in the ’60s, our dinners followed a very different rhythm than they do today. After a long, loud “A tavola, è pronto!” (“Come to the table …. dinner’s ready!”) was bellowed out by whoever set the table that evening, the rest of us had just a few moments to wash our hands, turn off the lights and get downstairs. “Ti sei lavato le mani, hai spento le luci?” (“Did you wash your hands and turn off the lights?”) was asked so automatically and routinely that the words were barely discernible. Though we weren’t supposed to start eating before our parents were seated, usually our mother would call out her permission for us to go ahead and start without her while she finished up in the kitchen – cooking dinner for eight hungry people every night was no easy task.

Respect for elders is deeply ingrained in Italian children; if grandparents are present at the table – a more common scenario in the rural parts of Italy than in urban centers like Venice – special attention and deference is always shown to them at mealtimes. In our household, our grandparents were seldom present, and though dinners were not formal occasions, certain formalities were always observed. As in just about every Italian family, tablecloths were always used for lunch and dinner, as well as cloth napkins – though my mother insisted that we first clean our mouths, often covered with tomato sauce, with a piece of bread before using the cotton napkins. Elbows were not allowed on the table and no hand in the lap either – whichever hand was not being used was placed, loosely closed, on the table; forks, spoons and knives had to be handled correctly. Bickering about portions and who might have gotten the better serving – the last pasta plates served always got the most sauce – was promptly squelched by one of our parents.

The fifties and early sixties were very difficult times in Italy; the effects of the war were still keenly felt here. In those postwar years, a two-course dinner was the norm, but there were no luxury foods on the table. Most families had pasta or soups for primo (the first course), and then some form of meat, cheese or “salume” (cured meats) for secondo (the main course). The pasta was often seasoned with a simple onion-based tomato sauce (in the summer, fresh tomato and basil); or sometimes a ragù (meat sauce); or simply butter and parmigiano. Pasta was never sautéed in that era; rather, it was placed in a large serving bowl and the sauce was ladled on top. Soups were healthy and simple: minestrone (vegetable soup); pasta e fagioli (bean soup); or pasta in beef or chicken broth, which is called minestra in brodo. Meat was expensive and therefore served in very small portions, and prepared in a variety of ways – sometimes cotolette (breaded and fried beef, chicken or turkey cutlets), or spezzatino (stewed meat), or brasato (braised beef). A real favorite in our family was what we called carne alla pizzaiola, which was a ground-beef patty with a sauce made from canned tomatoes, topped with mozzarella and oregano. Salad or vegetables were often served along with the meat course. Antipasti and dolci (dessert) were not commonly served at home during these less affluent years, though sometimes fruit was served for dessert (or eaten as a snack in the afternoon). For a special treat, we would have gelato (ice cream) at the nearby gelataio.

But dinner wasn’t the only meal eaten at home by the entire family. In those years, children and husbands came home for lunch every day. In my family, that meant my mother would have to prepare lunch in three shifts to accommodate all our different schedules. It was a daily ritual for two or three of us to stop at the nearby panificio (bread bakery) on our way home from school and buy over a dozen of the various small loaves of bread (panini) to accompany our lunch. At least several of those little loaves would be devoured before we ever reached the door. Our consumption of bread in those years was enormous, which was typical for Italian families then; bread and pasta were how we filled our stomachs.

The daily routine is quite different nowadays – the foods are more varied and the habits less formal. Families are smaller in Italy than they used to be, and one-parent households more common. When there are two parents working outside the home, the shopping, cooking, and clean-up are often more evenly shared. Today, Italian kids eat lunch at school – which makes a huge difference in the routine – as working parents are unable to attend to them at home in the middle of the day.

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When one bites into a good pizza, there is so much history in that bite

Bread has been a staple in what we know as Italy since ancient times. The Flat bread in the Mediterranean region was cooked on hot stones, on shields by soldiers, and seasoned with a few herbs and olive oil, cheese and even fruits and nuts.

“…there is no earlier evidence than third century Macedonia for the use of a flat loaf of bread as a plate for meat, a function which bread continued to perform in the pide of Turkey, the pita of Greece and Bulgaria, the pizza of southern Italy and the trencher of medieval Europe. Although meat and other relishes were seen earlier in Greece as accompaniments to cereal, the cereal had taken other forms.”
— Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece , Andrew Dalby [Routledge:London] 1996 (p. 157)

Brick ovens were developed and one could bake larger loaves of bread, and flat bread worked even better in these ovens.

About the “Word” Pizza

The word pizza itself was used as early as the year 997 AD in Gaeta, a port between Naples and Rome

“The term pizza is clouded in some ambiguity, though it may derive from an Old Italian word meaning a point, which in turn led to the Italian word pizzicare, to pinch or pluck. The word shows up for the first time in print as a Neapolitan dialect word–piza or picea–about 1000 A.D., possibly referring to the manner in which something is plucked from a hot oven…While many Mediterranean cultures and regions of Italy have long had their versions of flatbreads…the baked flatbread most people now think of as pizza originated in Naples, and was a favorite snack of occupying Spanish soldiers at the Taverna Cerriglio in the 17th century. The soft, baked crispy dough that the Neapolitans called sfiziosa would be folded over into a libretto (little book) and consumed in the hand. It was baked by men called pizzaioli, who worked in small shops called laboratori. By the middle of the 19th century the word pizza had become common parlance for the food item…”
— Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink , John Mariani [Broadway Books:New York] 1998 (p. 196-199) )

So Why Naples , Italy ?

What makes Naples style pizza so good?

The slight char and smoky flavor is one of the characteristics of a good Naples pizza, a thin but chewy crust, from using good hard winter wheat flour.
Using Great ingredients, but NOT TOO MUCH, that will weigh down the crust so it can’t cook properly.

Why is it considered the birth place of modern pizza

The wood fired oven was a common part of every neighborhood, where all the bread was baked and people would gather and socialize there as well. Pizza became a good snack to share as their bread was baked and they solved the world’s problems.

As you will see below, in time, pizza became an icon to this city much the same way the “Cheese Heads” see their cheese in Wisconsin .

It is said that there are over 1000 wood fired ovens now cooking pizza in Naples and they all stay very busy.

Naples was a major port also with commerce and traders from many countries.

The Climate in Southern Italy was perfect for growing tomatoes for pizza sauce.

In the Naples area they soon found that the lava rock from Mt. Vesuvius worked even better than bricks. They held more heat without cracking and gave the bread an even better texture with this hot oven.

In the 1500’s Columbus brought back the tomato from South America, In Southern Italy around Naples, the climate was perfect for tomatoes, however it was grown only as an ornamental plant at first as they were rumors that it was poisonous.

The poor peasants in Naples tried them anyway, and soon found that it made an exceptional spread that
“jazzed up” their pizza. To this day the tomatoes nearby in San Marzano are the standard for good pizza sauce.

The Best Cheese for Naples Pizza

The Longobards, a Germanic Tribe that invaded Italy in the 1st century A.D. brought with them the Indian Water Buffalo that made the most wonderful cheese with its milk. They called it Mozzarella di bufla, it was a superior cheese and became the standard. The Water buffalo became domesticated around Campagnia near Naples .

The name longobard was shortened to Lombard . The first pizza place in the United States is named after the owner Lombardi who was an immigrant from Italy , and still in existence today.

The Best Flour for Pizza

The hard Winter Durum wheat grown in Italy , makes the superior crust , It gives a good chewy texture, but still crisp.

Naples Pizzeria’s use almost exclusively Caputo brand flour grown in Italy .

Semolina is the Durum wheat that is ground coarse. In fact it is the same thing as “Cream of Wheat” but the Durum wheat has an amber color to it. It is used in pasta and pizza dough because it gives a coarse texture that picks up the sauce better. It also tempers the chewiness of the crust, as in the seeming oxy moron, al dente, “tender yet firm to the bite”.

The birth of Pizza Margherita

Pizza goes from snack to Stardom

All these things came together around Naples , and pizza became a tradition and a part of their everyday lives, Pizzaiuolos (PIZZ-a-olos) were very proud of their craft and considered artists. Word got around that pizza in the Naples area was exceptional.

Queen Margherita of Savoia caught wind of this special pizza from the painters and work people from Naples that were allowed in the royal yard, and became curious.

She had some delivered and loved them. Especially one that had the colors of the new Flag of Italy, red (tomato) Green (basil) and white (mozzarella). This pizza was named by Raphelle Esposito Pizza Margherita and after that this simple food became an icon amongst the people of Naples.

Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana

An association was set up to certify true Naples style pizza. It is extremely specific, the purpose being to preserve the 300 year old tradition. In this day and age of Dominoes and frozen pizza it is important. The recipe has not changed for 3 centuries now.

A Pizzaiuolo (the pizza artist) took years to train properly, He was seen as an artist and also one to preserve the traditions and heritage.

Brandi’s is said to be the oldest pizzeria in Naples This restaurant has been in operation since 1780 and is still going.

The propieter and head Pizzaiuolo, Raphelle Esposito, ( Probably the world’s most famous pizza maker) and his wife, Giovanna Brandi, in 1889 were invited to visit king Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy on their visit to Naples . On their donkey drawn cart they went, taking 3 pizzas. One of them was with fresh tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil and the queen especially liked this one, and also it looked like the new flag of Italy . So Raffaele named the pizza in her honor, and to this day it is called Pizza Margherita.

Pizza comes to the U.S.

Pizza was imported to the United States by Italian immigrants. For many years, pizza was mostly available in cities with large Neapolitan populations [New York, Boston, New Haven, Philadelphia, Baltimore etc.]. It wasn’t until American soldiers returned from WWII that pizza became a national phenomenon.

Lombardi’s is considered by most to be the first pizza in the United States. it remains today although it was closed for some time it reopened in 1994.

Pizza Only Became Popular in the US after WWII

“Pizza came to America at the end of the nineteenth century with immigrants from southern Italy. Italian immigrants built commercial bakeries and backyard ovens to produce bread they had eaten in Italy. In addition, Italian bakers used their ovens for flatbreads: northern Italians baked focaccia, while southern Italians made pizza. Initially, pizza was made by Italians for Italians, but thy the late 1930s after the Great Depression many Americans were eating pizza in Italian restaurants and pizzerias on the East and West Coasts…Over time, two basic and distinct styles of American pizza appeared. A thin-crust pizza, commonly called “East Coast” or “New York” style, is made with just a few toppings like pizza made in Naples.

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I know what you are going to say! After reading this, pretty much 75% of you are all going to run out and yell the words, “I NEED PIZZA! PRONTO!” I know I will because after reading through this delicious infographic, I had an unhealthy urge to nom nom a pizza, and that feeling just doesn’t go away like that. But there is one thing that you might not know about the consumption of pizza. All around the world we don’t crave the same toppings. Yes that’s right! There are countries out there that have a whole different view of what are possibly the world’s best pizza toppings, and there is nothing you can do about it.

I have had my share of American pizza since I lived in L.A for a while. I have also had my share of pizzas in several other countries as well, but the fact is that I have managed to find the spot where they make the perfect pizza, at least for my taste buds. I am not going to reveal where that is because I want to enjoy my pizza in private, but a few people who know me know exactly where this is.

Grande Pizza Co put together an infographic that will make your mouth water, and by the time you’re done, well you know you will be begging for a pizza. The facts shared here just amaze me really. Just that 17% of all the restaurants in the world are pizzerias is astounding if you ask me. So basically, there shouldn’t be one single middle-sized town in the entire world that doesn’t have at least one pizzeria available for their residents. Isn’t that something to think about?

And on top of that, that women are twice as likely to order vegetarian toppings on their pizza is just insane. How could you forsake the goodness of a nice ordinary pizza with pepperoni and all? I wonder if this is because of haunting so called Fashion Role Models that make women not go for the yummy non-vegetarian awesomeness. As you might understand, I am not a vegetarian; however, that doesn’t mean I don’t think about what I eat. There’s a difference you know. Life is all about living, so to all of you women who are trying to be something media and television want you to be, you are beautiful just as you are, so go ahead and have that extra slice of pizza.

Infographics

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To find the best pizza in Ironside, take a look at our Italian pizza menu. Visit us today!