Wednesday, April 12, 2017

At the Table with Ciccio - Casa Vitiello, Tuoro (Ce)

Francesco Vitiello
Last Saturday began as some usually do.  I slept in late, a little grocery shopping, and a lot of housework. So around 1 pm, I needed a boost. I needed to recharge my battery, so to speak.  So I headed out to Tuoro, Caserta - precisely to Casa Vitiello- to pop in on Francesco, aka Ciccio, Vitiello to see what he has been up to.  And yes, to try a pizza or two.

Saturday afternoon - lunch.  The only afternoon that Casa Vitiello is open for lunch.  Since I love late pizza lunches, it was perfect!  I arrived around 2 pm under a unusually scorching spring sunshine.  Perfect!  I needed to recharge.  I sat at a table right outside the front door, under a huge umbrella, with a perfect view of the ragazzi of Casa Vitiello preparing and serving a large array of pizzas for the packed pizzeria.

I ordered a beer, because during a Saturday lunch at Ciccio's, a beer pairs perfectly.  Ciccio suggested a craft beer from La Terra di Lavoro, Senz a Pensieri - loosely translated as without a care.  Exactly!

I looked over the menu - excited about the choices.  Then I heard the magic words Karen, I have some new pizzas that aren't on the menu.

So Ciccio and I shared a little pizza degustazione- I tried three slices along with the staff paired with a cold craft beer and some cool conversation.

Pizza number one -

Roasted artichoke, Provola from Agerola, and lonzarda ham from the prized Caserta black pork.

Pizza number two -

Cream of asparagus, fior di latte, egg mimosa, and grated  Laticauda sheep cheese on a hemp pizza crust.

Pizza number three -

Mozzarella di bufala DOP, puntarelle, roasted garlic cream, anchovies from Cetara, essence of extra virgin olive oil on a hemp pizza crust.

Just what I needed.  But we weren't finished!  The lunch crowd had left, so Ciccio decided to do a little mozzarella testing.  Yes, at times he does use mozzarella on his pizza instead of fior di latte.  It is important to Vitiello, though, that the cheese is not too wet causing problems during cooking. Problems that can make the pizza crust damp or nearly soaked.  And no one wants a soggy pizza! One solution to fix that problem is to slice up the mozzarella and let it drain for a bit so that it loses about 60% of that excess liquid.

Another possible solution may be found in the mozzarella that I had a chance to share with Vitiello and company.  A mozzarella that is drier - the pasta di mozzarella - Vitiello explained. You can almost taste the buffalo, he added. No buttermilk added.  None at all.

So, three new pizzas, a great cold beer, and an impromptu mozzarella cheese tasting.  Enough to recharge my battery until my next visit, which I'm sure would be sooner and not later!

Grazie, Ciccio!

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