Sunday afternoon. And I decided to head to Caiazzo to try a pizza or three made by Franco Pepe A familiar pilgrimage that I've made who knows how many times over the last 6 years. During those years a lot has changed for my amico pizzaiolo. He opened up Pepe in Grani...then added a bed and pizza so visitors could have a place to stay-right in the pizzeria! Then he added a tasting room for those looking for something extra. He added a second pizza oven. Deepened his wine list. Oh, and did I mention, became one, if not the top, pizza makers in the world.
One thing that I love about Pepe, besides the pizza, is his desire to evolve. To continue to look for ways to make Pepe in Grani not just a pizza place...but a pizza experience.
An authentic experience.
I arrived in Franco's little viale right before the crowds. I entered, found Franco, took off my jacket - then Franco said - Karen, vieni con me. Come with me...
I followed Pepe up the stairs to the third floor - to Authentica- his latest project.
A state of the art stereo system playing soft jazz greeted us as Franco opened the door to a small room. A simple room featuring a bookshelf full of pizza books. A new generation pizza oven in the corner embraced by a simple counter and stools for a maximum of 8 guests.
Guests, participants, pizza enthusiasts who could reserve a special front row pizza experience with Franco Pepe himself. A chance to participate in an intimate pizza making/eating experience in a cozy environment.
Photographs or words cannot convey the intimacy, coziness and emotions that I felt listening to my friend Franco as he took another step on his journey.