2011 December: My Turn

To begin to try and define what makes good pizza might take years of in-depth research, highly elevated arguments and countless caloric consumption. And after all is said and done, you would still be where you started. Pizza varies from region to region, city to city, and even street to street. The best part about this is that everyone thinks that they have it correct. I remember sitting down with my partners and discussing what Stella Rossa Pizza Bar should be. We listed ideas, inspirations and goals on sheets of paper. Some were eventually crossed out, some were underlined and others highlighted. The end result? We created our own philosophy and style. Much of it was rooted in our own traditions and values, while leaving the door open for new.

While much of the pizza industry is traditionally associated with red checkered tablecloths and chianti bottles with slow burning candles for centerpieces, we set out not to recreate the pizzeria, but rather put our own spin on it. From the restaurant design to the food served and down to the vibe created, each part of Stella Rossa was intentionally thought of and then tested and retested. We wanted to create an approachable atmosphere that would not only be inviting to large parties of friends looking for great drinks and delicious pizza, but welcoming to first dates and single diners. We desired Stella Rossa to be a destination restaurant while still being your neighborhood joint. Ultimately, we strived to serve the best pizza we possibly could without any gimmicks and show. Needless to say, we had a lot of ambition.

I have taken an approach to pizza that I cannot say is absolutely original or unique, but is grounded in the years of experience I have had working in fine dining. This doesn’t mean that I’m creating pizzas with foie gras or caviar; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I crave simplicity. It’s the hardest form of cooking that I have found or practiced. Simplicity means that there is nothing to hide behind. Each bite and every flavor needs to be at its best. We have gone to great lengths to pursue this idea. We have taken the time and energy to locally source quality ingredients, such as our flour, which is grown and milled nearby, and build relationships with local farmers. We have experimented and perfected our mixing and resting process for our dough, a process that takes about 30 hours. Additionally, we place our dough into individual containers to proof. This allows each of the boules to proof separately, consistently and to be the best it can possibly be each time a pizza is made.

I’ve spent much time thinking about what sets Stella Rossa Pizza Bar apart from other pizzerias and it keeps coming back to hard work and quality. Each day we have one goal in mind –– to take one thing and make it better. This goal has no parameters and can range from the food, to the service. If we keep this in mind, imagine what we will be in the years to come. However, the bigger question may be –– have we broken the mold from the everyday pizzeria? To answer this question is simple. We never started with a mold. We had an idea and we worked hard on it, and continue to do so. Our restaurant represents our values –– to make great food.

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