I often fantasize about owning a little pizzeria. Not a greasy what-passes-for-pizza-too-often pizzeria but one that turns out truly rustic pies, very traditional Italian. My imaginary pizzeria is very similar to Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn with its very relaxed, slightly dark and intimate feel where everyone crowds around mismatched tables to eat amazing pizza and drink beer or wine out of unpretentious vessels.
I fantasize about this not because I’m good at making pizza (because I am so not there yet). The reason for my dream pizzeria is that it combined so many of the things I’ve grown to love and wanted in my restaurant-owning fantasy.
It includes a wood oven. Very important. So important.
It is Italian. Over the last little while, I’ve been feeling a surprising change of attitude towards where French cuisine and Italian cuisine fall in my mind of what’s best. Along with many others, I let France win by default. Why not right? They have Larousse Gastronomique after all. And then suddenly I realized that real Italian cuisine has been right up my alley all along. It seems unpretentious and unfussy about unnecessary details but is willing to go to the mat on what truly matters. I can respect a philosophy based on taking magnificent ingredients and respecting them deeply by showcasing their natural beauty; doing just enough to them and then allowing them to speak for themselves. And most of all it’s supremely rustic.
But then I discovered something other than an imaginary pizzeria that suited me much better.
The book My Bread by Jim Lahey (the man behind no-knead bread) is the most wonderful cookbook I’ve stumbled across in a while and is chock full of recipes for gorgeous italian bread recipes and then the makings of wonderful italian sandwiches. I’m going to Ottawa for the weekend and I’m bringing it with me to pour over on the long drive.