August 1, 2016 |

Respecting the Craft: I Will Take Mine Fried

By Tony Gemignani

Fried items are a must on any menu

Tony Gemignani World-champion Pizzaiolo and Pizzeria Owner

Tony Gemignani
World-champion Pizzaiolo and Pizzeria Owner

Fried pizza, fried calzone, fried anything! For years, my restaurants have given the baked or fried option for our calzones. If you have a fryer it’s such an easy addition to any menu as an option.

Last year I was traveling in Naples, Italy, and I went to the oldest pizzeria that is famous for frying pizza — Pizzeria D’ E Figiole. Here, they have been frying pizzas for more than 100 years. It’s also said that fried dough with tomato dates back to the 17th century. You may have thought it was invented in a county fair or something, but it wasn’t. It’s a delicacy, it’s a tradition and it’s delicious. They make only a few different styles and I believe this type of concept would work great in certain areas across the U.S. Like singular cannoli and meatball concepts in Boston and New York. A fried concept — whether it is pizza or calzone — would knock it out of the ballpark in the right location.

Fried calzone from House of Pizza & Calzones in Brooklyn, New York.

Fried calzone from House of Pizza & Calzones in Brooklyn, New York.

Look at other types of fried foods in our industry that are big sellers, such as Starita’s Montanara pizza (Antonio Starita changed it up and used smoked mozzarella that pairs amazingly with the flavor of the fried dough and tomato). My Quattro Forni is a pizza that is limited at my restaurant, Capo’s, each day. We take an eight-inch square that’s cooked in a pan and then fried, topped and cooked in three different temperature ovens. This pizza has a distinct flavor. Zeppoli meets wood-fired pizza. The flavor is out of this world!

Fried, then stuffed, Piadinas have been around Italy for a long time. In the U.S., I’ve seen it where a small pizza is lightly fried, cooled and cut open. The inside is then stuffed with ingredients, such as salami, provolone and even chicken Caesar salad.          In Parma, there is a very common antipasto that uses small fried dough and is served with Prosciutto Di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano and local jam. In Tuscany, one of my favorite antipasti is called coccoli. I serve it at several locations myself. It’s a medium-sized, sea-salted fried dough served with lard, smoked speck and Straciatella cheese.

Even with society being so health conscious today I still believe that fried items is a must have on any menu.

RESPECTING THE CRAFT features World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco and Pizza Rock in Sacramento.  Tony compiles the column with the help of his trusty assistants, Laura Meyer and Thiago Vasconcelos. If you have questions on any kitchen topic ranging from prep to finish, Tony’s your guy. Send questions via Twitter @PizzaToday, Facebook (search: Pizza Today) or e-mail and we’ll pass the best ones on to Tony.