August 1, 2017 |

Vine to Vinegar

By Jeremy White

Pizza Calabrese

Balsamic vinegar gives menus a flavor jolt with panache

When I was in Modena, Italy, a few years ago I had the opportunity to explore the fascinating process of turning grapes into balsamic vinegar. Each intricately planned step, combined with time, worked magic in a way that captured my
attention and has held it ever since. I’ll never forget the smell of the barn that housed hundreds of barrels, each of varying size, that contained fermenting grapes.

That spring day in northern Italy still jumps to my mind every time I open a bottle of “aceto balsamico” and drizzle it on a pizza.

Balsamic vinegar comes in a variety of ages and qualities. For use on a sandwich, salad or to drizzle atop a pizza, you don’t need to invest in $100 bottles. The item stocked by your favorite distributor will probably suffice for the majority of uses in your pizzeria unless you are going for a super high-end Italian feel.

Consider, also, that balsamic vinegar can easily be made into a nice reduction by gently boiling and whisking (be careful to check it often and not burn it) with a watchful eye.

Balsamic vinegar is so flavorful and versatile that it happens to be one of my favorite ingredients, personally. I love it on Parmesan cheese, on pears or figs wrapped in prosciutto, on white pies. There are so many uses for it that not stocking it is just plain limiting. And who wants to limit their menu’s potential?

My friends at Tutta Bella in Seattle were nice enough to send me this recipe a few years ago. I really enjoy it and think you will, too.

arancini with balsamic reductionPizza Calabrese

Recipe courtesy of Brian Gojdics
Tutta Bella, Seattle, Washington

Appetizers remain red hot in today’s restaurant scene. I’ve seen an increase of arancini on Italian restaurant and pizzeria menus in the last few years. They require a little work and they are fried, but they are so worth it to your customers. Here’s a wonderful recipe that came from a Pizza Today contributor and International Pizza Expo speaker that I’m sure you’re familiar with by now:


Recipe courtesy of Mike Bausch
Andolini’s Pizzeria, Tulsa, Oklahoma

One of the best uses for aceto balsamico in a pizzeria setting comes in the form of the revered Caprese salad. Simply take fresh heirloom tomatoes and slice them. Add some torn fresh mozz, a drizzle of olive oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper and some torn fresh basil and you have a timeless classic on your hands. There’s not a better summertime treat, if you ask me.

Don’t limit your creativity when using this ingredient. It can help you stand out if you’re willing to experiment with recipes until you find what works well with your clientele. 

Jeremy White is editor-in-chief of Pizza Today.