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Articles by: Tommaso Cartia

  • Photo Credit: Shushu Chen
    Art & Culture

    "Arrangiarsi: Pizza… and the Art of Living" on Show at NYU

    After conquering the West Coast, “Tu Vuò Fa il Napoletano - Facce da Pizza”, continues its mission to share the ancient art of the neapolitan pizzaioli, recently recognized as one of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity. The event is organized by Dress in Dreams Movie & Costume, under the auspices and with the support of MiBACT - Direzione Cinema and in collaboration with AVPN - Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.

    The Art of Living and of Pizza Making 

    Journalist Elisabetta Cantone and art expert Francesca Silvestri of Dress in Dreams brought under the spotlight the excellence of pizza making in one of the temples of Italian culture in New York, NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò whose director, Stefano Albertini, presented the New York premiere of Matteo’s Troncone "Arrangiarsi: Pizza… and the Art of Living".

    The American actor and director of Italian origins recounts in his film, his experience of travelling in a truck through Italy to reconnect with his roots and to discover the art of Neapolitan pizza making and ultimately the Neapolitan culture and philosophy of “l’arte di arrangiarsi” - the art of living.

    After the screening, the Casa Italiana auditorium hosted a panel discussion on the art of pizza making with some of the most renowned Italian pizzaioli in NYC such as Rosario Procino and Pasquale Cozzolino of Ribalta Pizzeria and Ciro Iovine of the pizzeria Song’e Napule. The AVPN - Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana was also present with the President of the association in Naples Antonio Pace and the President of the Californian branch, Peppe Miele.

    The Panel

    The speakers talked about their experience with pizza and how important it is for them to educate people on the art of traditional Neapolitan pizza making. The hardwork of people like Rosario Procino, Pasquale Cozzolino and Ciro Iovine, among others, has really chance that perception that newyorkers have of pizza and the difference in between "pizza" and Neapolitan pizza. 

    The President of AVPN, Antonio Pace, explained what it is so special in the art of pizza making that deserved to be recognized by the UNESCO.

    "Unesco recognized the art of the pizzaiolo, not pizza per se." Specified Pace. "Pizza is the most simple thing in the world, but now everybody wants to reinvent it. Pizza was invented already, if you change it you could only make it worst, pizza is what it is. A chef who can make many different dishes is a chef who can’t cook anything, the pizzaiolo has to do make pizza and only pizza.”

    The secret of pizza making is also in the relationship in between the three major agents that work to make pizza a work of art: “You need three people to make pizza, the pizzaiolo, the baker and the oven, the key is the combination and the communication between these three entities." Underlined Peppe Miele of the AVPN USA delegation. 

    Pizza Fried Tasting

    After discovering more about this intangible cultural heritage of humanity, the audience had the chance to taste it. The pizzaioli surprised the guests by making the tantalizing “pizza fritta” in front of their eyes. The second floor of Casa Italiana magically transformed into a folkloritic Neapolitan angle where you can enjoy some excellent street food and added extra magic to the already enchanting day spent with the art of pizza. 

    To watch the video immortalizing the Pizza Fried moment CLICK HERE>>>>

    The video was shot and edited by Sushu Chen for Casa Italiana. 

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    "Facce da Pizza -Tu vuò fà il napoletano", is produced by Dress in Dreams. Under the auspices and with the support of MiBACT - Direzione Cinema. In collaboration with Associazione VPN, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. Sponsored by Cirio, Le 5Stagioni, Angelo & Franco - The Mozzarella Guys.

     

  • Dining in & out

    Celebrating Pizza Through the Lens of Cinema

    Dress in Dreams Movie & Custom is a non-profit cultural association, created in 2006 from the intuition and cultural vein of the journalist Elisabetta Cantone and the art expert Francesca Silvestri. Cinema, fashion, custom and art, are the core of the association with the mission to promote, enhance and internationalize the Made in Italy creativity and the Italian Style.

    Movies & the Art of Pizza

    “We intend to share this excellence through the cinema.” Said Elisabetta Cantone when we asked her about Dress in Dreams and about this new series of events that intend to exalt the excellence of the art of the Neapolitan Pizzaioli through the cinema medium.

    “Cinema has always recounted the dinner table and its liveliness,” explained Elisabetta, “and through these aspects, the transformation of a country and its history.”

    The idea to organize the event came with the recognition by the UNESCO of the the art of pizza making in 2017, and it was developed with AVPN (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana).

    The first leg took place at the Film Producer Martha De Laurentiis house last October, and saw celebrities and journalists experimenting with the art of pizza making guided by some maestri pizzaioli coming directly from Naples.

    The second leg took place in SF at the Italian Cultural Institute that hosted a panel of Neapolitan pizzaioli and a screening of different movies that celebrated pizza thorugh the years.

    Facce da Pizza in New York

    On April 16th the opening night of the show at Ribalta Pizzeria will see different Neapolitan pizzaioli joining Ribalta’s Chef Pasquale Cozzolino to craft some pizzas that will be dedicated to the art of cinema. Following, a video showcasing some of the best scenes of the history of cinema with pizza as a protagonist.

    On the 17th, NYU Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, will host the screening of the New York premiere of Arrangiarsi: Pizza… and the Art of Living by Matteo Troncone, a Californian director of Italian descent. The film traces a few years of the director becoming a pizzaiolo and learning the art of pizza in Naples. After the screening there will be a panel discussion with renowned Italian pizza makers. Fried pizza will also be prepared in a competition among the pizzaioli.

    The18th a master class will be taught at the Song’ e Napule pizzeria in the Village area. “The scope of the class is to communicate the culture and history of pizza that was always a dish for the poor,” underlined Elisabetta Cantone of Dress in Dreams, “but today it is also considered a gourmet dish prepared with top quality ingredients. We’ll also speak about the pizzaioli and the pizzaioli schools in America and around the world.”

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    "Facce da Pizza -Tu vuò fà il napoletano", is produced by Dress in Dreams. Under the auspices and with the support of MiBACT - Direzione Cinema. In collaboration with Associazione VPN, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia. Sponsored by Cirio, Le 5Stagioni, Angelo & Franco - The Mozzarella Guys.

     

  • Art & Culture

    Snapshots of Canova at the Consulate General of Italy NY

     

    The research of three-dimensionality, of a statue relationship with the space and of its immobile dance with light are some of the revolutionary traits of Canova’s art. One can think that flattening a Canova’s statue down to the two-dimensionality of a photograph would take away some of its magic.

    But, it is true that Canova’s sculptures were thought to give something to the viewer from each different angle. And that is what Zonta’s pictures, on show at the Consulate General of Italy, capture. A work that investigates the pieces from unusual points of view, making them more modern and relevant than ever.

    A Joint Effort in the Name of Italian Art

    The wonderful pictures are a loan from the Museo Canova in Possagno in collaboration with Gyspoteca, that along with the Venice International Foundation and Friends of Venice Italy, were instrumental in bringing all of the three Canova’s exhibitions to New York. This was also made possible by the wonderful work of support, communication and coordination that Italian and American Institutions put in action in the territory of the Tri-state area. The Frick Collection, Consulate General of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in New York, endorsed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in accordance with the Italian Embassy in Washington, all cooperated in a joint effort that contributes to consolidate the fruition of Italian art and culture by the American public.

    Enthusiastic about this collaboration and the exhibition is the Consul General of Italy Francesco Genuardi: “The Consulate, the Italian Cultural Institute and the Frick Collection, are exhibiting Canova’s beauty and the mark that the artist left on the history of art, all in a couple of blocks, and that’s amazing. To open the doors of the Consulate to the American public to such a show it is so very relevant for the communication of Italian art. This cooperation is beautiful and significant, and signs how much the Italian culture’s footprint is rooted in the New York area and all around the US.”

    More About Fabio Zonta

    The photographer was born in Bassano del Grappa in 1958. In 1977, he moved to Milan where he worked at Alfredo Pratelli's Publifoto; within the renowned agency he assisted Alfa Castaldi and Chistopher Broadbent. From 1979 to 1982, Fabio Zonta was assistant to Davide Mosconi with whom he established a strong collaboration, which ended in 2002 when his mentor and friend died. Simultaneously, since 1980, he has collaborated with several design and architecture magazines and his photographs have been regularly published by Abitare, Domus, Gran-Bazaar, Ottagono, Modo and Interni.

    Fabio Zonta has been a staff photographer for important architecture firms, such as: Cini Boeri, Matteo Thun, Sottsass-Associati, Antonio Zanuso, and Venini glassware in Venezia until 1986. He has photographed the work of Renata Bonfanti, Laura Diaz de Santillana, Philip Tsiaras, Lee Babel, Stefania Lucchetta, Candido Fior, Alessandro Diaz de Santillana for catalogues and exhibitions. Since his first solo exhibition in 2003, he has been focusing mainly on the Natura Morta theme; he has had exhibitions at Paris Photo, Art Miami, Ginevra, Roma, Firenze, Milano, Torino and Genova. He has released several publications and his work is part of significant collections both in Italy and abroad. He works and lives between Cima Lan  and Milan.

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    For more info on the exhibition please click here >>>
     

  • The Three Graces and Venus Dancing in front of Mars by Canova Antonio (1798)
    Art & Culture

    Canova the Painter. Another Shade of the Genius

    New Yorkers and tourists from all over the world have a unique chance this spring to appreciate the beauty of one of Italy’s most iconic artists. The Gypsoteca and Museo Canova in Possagno, where the artist was born, gifted the city of New York with a series of incredible loans that is already becoming part of the history of art.

    Canova e la Danza

    The exhibition held at the Italian Cultural Institute in New York shows an unpredictable face of the Italian Neoclassical artist, proposing 16 tempera paintings completed between the years 1799 and 1806. Canova was not new at painting, he intermittently painted while crafting his sculptures, and his paintings were often studies related to the bigger scale projects. The paintings reveal all of the artist’s passion for the human body and its rhythm, for the elegance and polishness of the lines interpreting the classical ideal of perfection in beauty.

    Institutions United Under the Sign of Art

    This enchanting exhibition was not only made possible by the hard work of the Gyspoteca and Museo Canova, but also by the excellent work of communication that Italian and American institutions are doing to preserve and exalt Italian art and culture in the US. In fact, all of the three exhibitions - Frick Collection, Consulate General of Italy, and Italian Cultural Institute - are endorsed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in accordance with the Italian Embassy in Washington.

    “The idea came about when I knew that the Frick Collection would have opened an exhibition dedicated to Canova’s lost statue of George Washington.” Explained to us Giorgio Van Straten, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute.

    “I heard the news from Franca Coin, the President of the Venice International Foundation. She told me that they had some beautiful and almost unknown Canova’s tempera. I decided then to bring them to the Italian Cultural Institute at the same time that the Frick is showing its Canova’s piece. I like the idea to create a link between such an important American institution like the Frick is. I did that in the past on the occasion of the Guido Cagnacci exhibition. Nurture this relationship between Italian and American institutions is fundamental for our mission to exalt the Italian art and culture here in the US and internationally.”

    A Romantic Canova

    When the Director saw the paintings he was absolutely stunned by them.  He knew that their innate elegance fitted perfectly with the ambiance of the Institute and that they would have spoken about a trait of Canova’s artistry not often discussed by critics and art historians.

    “These are some extraordinary tempera. They show all of the fascination that Canova had for the past, he is indeed a neoclassical artist. But this pieces evoke also the Pompeian paintings, with their dark backgrounds. You can really tell through these paintings that Canova’s artistic sensibility here it’s already a romantic one, these are pieces in between two eras, neoclassicism and romanticism.”

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    For more info please click here >>>

  • Installation view of Canova’s George Washington in the Oval Room of the Frick Collection Photo: Michael Bodycomb
    Art & Culture

    Canova's Beauty Bewitches NYC

    Antonio Canova has always been representative of that refined, glorious elegance of the classical world that he immortalized in sinuous and perfect statues that contributed to deliver it to posterity.

    The Italian sculptor is notoriously known for his marble marvellous masterpieces like Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss, Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix or The Three Graces. But Canova was not just a sculptor, he was also an incredibly talented painter. His drawn sketches and preparatory models can be considered art masterpieces per se and a testimony of the artist sublime technique and unique touch.

    That’s the side of Canova that New York’s art affectionates can get the chance to view through this exemplary three exhibitions that show different shades of the Venetian artist.

    George Washington at the Frick Collection

    Organized by Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, in collaboration with Mario Guderzo, Director of the Gypsotheca and Museo Antonio Canova, the Venice International Foundation, and Friends of Venice Italy Inc., this exhibition unveils not only one of Canova’s lost masterpieces but also an important piece of history.

    Back in 1816, as the United States were establishing their role as an independent nation after winning the war against the British, Thomas Jefferson commissioned Antonio Canova to create a monument of George Washington dressed as an ancient Roman leader. Even though the sculptor never met or seen the first American President, considering Washington had already passed away by the time work on this piece began, Canova happily accepted and relied solely on a bust owned by an American diplomat who shipped it to his studio in Rome. 

    The state of North Carolina spent almost half of their annual budget on the funding of the sculpture and it finally arrived in its new home five years later. Unfortunately, the stunning piece was completely ruined a decade later after the tragic spread of a fire within the state’s House. Canova’s original sculpture of Washington was destroyed, but the artist still had a full-size plaster model of the monument in his studio. He had also made a 30-inch preliminary nude model which no one ever knew about.

    About the immeasurable value of the piece, Salomon said: “It is one of the four preliminary models, part of the preparatory work. Canova always did a nude model of his sculptures so he could understand how the body worked under the drapery. It was absolutely a standard practice starting with rough drawings and then moving onto three-dimensional plaster models.”

    Besides the full-size plaster copy of the original sculpture and the smaller nude model, the exhibition also includes Canova’s draft sketches and related engravings and drawings loaned to the Frick by the Museo Canova in Possagno, the town in which the artist was born.

    The Opening

    An elegant cocktail catered by the prestigious Cipriani, welcomed the media representatives for the unveiling of the statue. The packed crowd  was greeted by the Consulate General of Italy, Francesco Genuardi, who addressed the importance and relevance of the exhibition. Then Xavier F. Salomon, Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator of the Frick took the stage to underline this extraordinary occasion and the hard work spent to make the event happen and the center role of the Gypsotheca and Museo Antonio Canova. Its Director, Mario Guderzo, was also present, and he gave a speech narrating the wonderful adventure that brought Canova's "Washington" from Possagno to New York.

    The Italian Air Company Alitalia was also instrumental for carrying the fragile artcraft from Italy to New York. A lucky audience member had also the chance to win a ticket for a wonderful trip to Italy, compliments of Alitalia.

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    Exhibition Dates: May 23, 2018, through September 23, 2018

    The exhibition is organized by Xavier F. Salomon, The Frick Collection’s Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator, in collaboration with Mario Guderzo, Director of the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova, the Venice International Foundation, and Friends of Venice Italy Inc. Following its presentation at the Frick, the exhibition will be shown in Italy at the Gypsotheca e Museo Antonio Canova in Possagno in the fall of 2018.

    For more info please click here >>>

     

  • Photo Credit: MARY ANN HALPIN
    Life & People

    Erica Jong - Woman, Author, Icon and... Italophile

    When one gets the chance to get close to an intellectual that has impacted the history of our customs in the way that Erica Jong did, one could really feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the urgency to ask everything and touch upon all of the fundamental points. Also one wants to avoid falling into the trap of reproposing all of the labels attached to Jong’s groundbreaking body of work, from the revolutionary Fear of Flying (1973), to her last effort, Fear of Dying (2015). But it is also true that one should investigate why those labels were there in the first place and understand whether they were deceiving or not from the writer’s aesthetic world.

    It is unsurprising that Erica Jong was labeled a feminist in the 70’s and that her works were considered milestones for women in the realms of gender studies and literature. The critics and the general public idolized her, criticized her, confronted her. Females praised her, females blamed her, males loved her, males hated her; that is how significant and controversial her writing is. And her writing is pretty much like her persona, multi-layered, complex, outspoken, open hearted and savage at the same time.

    Over the course of this interview we wanted to dig deeper into the complexity of the rules of Jong’s poetic world trying not to be deceived by labels, but also acknowledging them. We also wanted to highlight Jong’s special ties with Italy. In order to do so, I tried going back with my memory to the very first time I ever heard of Erica Jong in Italy because the American writer’s first book, the legendary Fear of Flying, did literally fly fearlessly circling the world and falling into the lap of so many women of that generation.

    It fell into my mother’s lap as well, when she was in her 30’s, just moved from a small province of the south of Italy to the sparks of Milan’s metropoly. I remember watching my mother reading that book, I remember being fascinated by that title, Fear of Flying, it got to me instinctively, like some sort of epiphany. Of course I had a fear of flying even though technically I didn’t have a fear of flying. I did have so many different fears of flying.

    One of those fears was not being able to oversee and have an understanding of my mother’s feelings at that time, of the loneliness of a woman often left alone with her only child in a world dominated by men that was perceived as scary and intimidating. It was because of the urgency of peeking into that world that I read that book. Reading it transformed something inside of me, something yet undecipherable at that time, and it left me with so many questions. Some of them I would eventually asked my mother, some others were answered by life. Some others left unanswered.

    Now in times where the global world is refocusing again - though it should have never lost that focus - on women in a man’s man’s world, some of those questions have arisen again and I felt a renovated urgency to let them be answered. And I fearlessly dared to ask some of them to Mrs. Jong in person.

    Fear and Change – how do you explore that in your writing and how do you face fear and change in your personal life?

    When it came time to view my first novel through the lens of age, I realized that Isadora would have changed a lot– as we do change – and in writing FEAR OF DYING, I had to find a way to tell her story honestly. It seemed to me that to write about female friendship as life goes on was very important. So, although FEAR OF DYING is not a sequel to FEAR OF FLYING, I wanted to include Isadora, who is seen as a dear friend and advisor, rather than the main character of the novel.

    FEAR OF FLYING shows a young, intelligent woman, Isadora Wing, trying to find her identity and recognizing that she can be strong on her own, without a man. It deals with love and life and understanding. FEAR OF DYING shows Vanessa Wonderman battling with the understanding that with the loss of her parents and the near loss of her husband – she is in a different stage of life. Although she panics and seeks happiness elsewhere, with the help of time and Isadora Wing, Vanessa recognizes that she loves her husband and does not need sex outside of her marriage to be happy.

    These are different novels and showcase women in different stages of life but both embrace the importance of change. Love and death will always be timely because we are driven by the two – both change us. I fear losing the people that I love but accept that life brings wisdom and understanding and through those changes, brings contentment too. I have a full life – with my writing, my career, my husband, daughter and grandchildren. I realize how blessed I am to have such a full life.

    Are we in a period of regression in regards to feminism… as a feminist in the 70’s did you think we’d be past all of this by now?

    I thought we would be much farther along than we are now. The election of Trump showed that many people would love to return to the bad old past when women were under the thumb of fathers and husbands and sons. I find it almost unbelievable that any women could wish for that but apparently some women do and they fail to realize what a trap it is. But as the younger generations assert themselves, I feel more hopeful. Young women do not accept a return to the past.

    We are now experiencing a global revival of feminism. In the USA –Trump has brought millennials to see that we need an equal rights amendment, health care for women, children, aging parents. We are fighting for our right to be recognized under the law. The insane Trump administration has shown people that we need more wisdom and flexibility in politics. In the UK too, a conservative backlash and an ill considered BREXIT have stimulated the revival of feminism. Wherever right wing leaders make noise, we can see feminism rising again. In Pakistan, in India  -- feminism is the way forward. Populous dictators show us all that we must move toward the future, not the past. We embrace our male allies in making the world more just.

    Is the zipless fuck possible in this era of concern about boundaries, consent, etc? Also, do you think the zipless fuck depended on men and women sharing a different idea about sex than they have now?

    The zipless fuck was always a beautiful fantasy. It was never meant to be taken literally. Sadly, there were people who took it literally and thought I was advocating for sex without love. I never liked sex without love and I think that may be true of many people – male and female. Perhaps men go through a period of notching their bedposts and liking quantity and not quality. Maybe some women do too. But as we mature and know ourselves better, we look for mutuality in our loves.

    What is your take on the #metoo movement? Do you agree with the French women (Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot) who claim it will quash all flirtatiousness between men and women?

    I applaud the courage of people who share their experiences to help avoid the same thing happening to others. The #metoo movement is important in our culture. Not all men are rapists. For every rapist there is a man who wants his lover to be a friend and an equal partner. The rapists get all the attention but thank Aphrodite they are not the majority!

    Tell us when and how Italy became a part of your life and what it represents for you.

    My parents adored Italy before me. When I studied Dante at Barnard College I determined I must read him in Italian. My professor Maristella de Panizza Lorch was a great influence on me in college. I began to read poetry in Italian and began to experiment writing poetry in la bella lingua. When I was nineteen, I travelled to Florence to study Italian literature, history and language for two and a half months. It was an important time for me. I lived in the Torre di Bellosguardo looking down on the city of Florence. I made many Italian friends who are still important in my life.

    Who are your most beloved Italian authors?

    Elena Ferrante, Leopardi, Dante, Elsa Morante, Natalia Ginzburg, Oriana Fallaci, Primo Levi, Luigi Barzini, Ludina Barzini, Carlo Collodi (totally ruined by Disney), Umberto Eco.

    Can you tell us about your encounter with Umberto Eco?

    I was asked to introduce Umberto Eco to the American audience and of course I did so. During an unforgettable evening at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura I talked about my love for Umberto’s first novel – Il Nome della Rosa and he proceeded to overtalk me for the next two hours, not allowing me to say a word. He was a bit of a male chauvinist pig and totally ungrateful for my praise. Was this a relationship? I suppose it was a sort of relationship that educated me about the perils of praising male writers.

    The Fernanda Pivano Award for American Literature is an Italian literary award for American authors and it is named in honor of Fernanda Pivano, representing the work of spreading American literature that Pivano undertook in Italy. How significant was it for you to receive the award?

    Nanda was a great friend and wise interpreter of my work. She understood how hard it was to be a woman writer in a world of men. We came to love each other very much. I miss her. To have won the first award bearing her name remains very important to me.

    What do you think is the perception of today’s Italian reader of contemporary American literature and vice versa – how is contemporary Italian literature perceived here in America?

    Italians and Americans adore each other. In many ways we are cut from the same cloth. We love innovation – in food, in literature, in language. We love music and love to make music with language. I think Italians and Americans are genetically part of the same tribe. It’s a love story.

    What is your relationship with the Italian translators and publishers of your books?

    I have been blessed to have great translators. Marissa Caramella translated FEAR OF FLYING with great humor and verve. Happily, Bompiani has my entire backlist in Italian. I have lucky relationships with my publishers and am very excited to work with Beatrice Masini, the new direttore of Bompiani.

    We heard you are working on a TV adaptation of one of your works. Can you give us a preview about that and about your future projects?

    My favorite novel has always been FANNY: Being the True  Adventures of Fanny Hackabout Jones. It’s an 18th century picaresque about an orphan who has many adventures which lead to a happy ending. It will soon be a TV series directed by Julie Taymor who did THE LION KING and many other  wonderful movies and plays. The first episode has been written by British writer, Olivia Hetreed and it is wonderful. I look forward to seeing it come to life.

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    A special thank to writer, author and editor Kristy Eldredge for her precious contribution to this interview.

  • Tony Gemignani
    Dining in & out

    The Pizza Maker Star

    Pizza making is an art that, like painting, sculpting, opera, and craftsmanship, is definitely embedded into Italians’ DNA. And the immigrants, who during the war embraced the American dream to find a better life, brought those incredible talents with them. That’s certainly the case of the Gemignani family. Originally from Gombitelli (a small village close to Lucca, Tuscany), the Gemignanis settled in Fremont, California, where the young Tony grew up. He was surrounded by 84 acres of apricots and cherries farmed by his Italian father and grandfather. He also watched his mom work her magic in the kitchen, cooking traditional Italian recipes.

    From Student to World Pizza Champion

    The seed of what has become Tony’s success with Italian cooking and pizza making was planted in that rural paradise. Always driven by a strong passion and commitment to his goals in life, Tony realized that being a chef was his calling, so he went back to basics, to the source. Twelve years ago, he moved to Italy to study at the prestigious Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli, situated in Caorle close to Venice. The professional school teaches the profession of the pizzaiolo, and it has branches all over the world, including in the USA, where courses are taught by Gemignani himself.

    The combination of both an education and an innate talent brought Tony to become one of the most awarded and successful pizzaiolos in the world. He’s a pizza throwing star and a twelve-time World Pizza Champion. He won his first competition in Las Vegas and eventually became president of the Championship. Gemignani is the only Triple Crown winner for baking at the International Pizza Championships in Lecce, Apulia, and he was even the first American and non-Neapolitan to win the coveted World Pizza Cup in Naples in 2007.

    Tony’s Pizzeria Napoletana

    It’s no wonder that when Tony started his own business in San Francisco, he set the bar high in order to eliminate all competition. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana is his flagship restaurant, and throughout the years, it became SF’s pizza kingdom. Ever since it opened its doors, the pizzeria has received nothing but high praise from locals and critics alike. Tony prides himself on continuing the tradition he grew up with; he uses only the freshest ingredients grown on his rooftop garden, and he supports both local organic farmers and artisan cheese makers.

    The restaurant concept is grandiose, offering all of the styles of pizza you could ever dream of tasting. “We have seven ovens with 13 different styles of pizza,” Tony told us. “Besides the Napoletana, we have NY-style pizza by the slice, pizza romana, grandma pizza, and Sicilian pizza. We also have some originals styles like the St. Louis and the Detroit. Depending on the style that you order, we use the appropriate flour and tomatoes, and we adjust the temperature of the oven.”

    The Margherita Napoletana pizza, for example, is one of the star’s of the menu and the winner of the 2007 World Pizza Cup in Naples. It’s cooked at 900 degrees in a wood-fired oven and is prepared with dough kneaded by hand using Caputo red flour then proofed in napoletana wood boxes, San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes, sea salt, mozzarella, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil.

    Another two winning pizzas are the Sicilian La Regina–Gold Cup winner of the 2013 International Pizza Championships in Parma–made with soppressata piccante, Prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella, provola, parmigiano, piave, arugula; and the Burratina di Margherita–Gold Cup winner of the 2008 International Pizza Championships in Lecce–made with burrata, cherry tomatoes tossed with fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, and a balsamic reduction. All the Sicilian pizzas are cooked at 550 degrees and are pan pizzas topped with vine-ripened tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

    Gemignani shared the secret behind his pizza making artistry with us: “The secret is all about love and passion for what you do but also about balance. The marination of all the ingredients that you use and the complexity of it. It’s about balance and not overly complex ingredients.”

    Tony’s pizzeria also offers delicious traditional Italian pastas like Carbonara–linguine, farm egg yolk, pancetta, onion, parmigiano, pecorino romano, cream, and parsley; and lasagna–tomato sauce with a savory combination of ricotta, Italian sausage, mozzarella, parmigiano, and parsley.

    Gemignani’s Pizza Empire

    Tony’s Gemignani pizza empire includes several other restaurants such as Tony’s Coal Fired Pizza, which is also in San Francisco; Capo’s in Chicago; and Slice House which has locations in Green Valley Ranch, NV, Walnut Creek, CA, and San Francisco. In partnership with George Karpaty and Trevor Hewitt, Tony also opened Pizza Rock in Sacramento, Las Vegas, and Green Valley Ranch. Pizza Rock is a cool conceptual space that combines the quality of Tony’s pizza with a nightlife vibe. It’s a place to eat but also to listen to great music, have drinks, and enjoy a night out.     

    The International School of Pizza

    As a graduate of the Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli and the first Master Instructor in the US, Gemignani coordinates and teaches the American branch of the school located in San Francisco along with The United States School of Pizza and The International School of Pizza.

    The school has multiple locations and can be found at Tony’s Pizzeria Napoletana, The Slice House, and Capo’s. The school brings the prestigious tradition of the Scuola Italiana, which dates back to 1988, to the US. The school presents an incredible opportunity for any American student who wishes to master the art of pizza making and receive a certification.

    Different courses are available like the Neapolitan and Classic Italian-style-pizza combo course, the American-style-pizza course, and the Home Chef's course, which allows everyone, not just those who want to become a professional, to learn the secrets of pizza making and to prepare it in the cozyness of their homes.

    To start your course and become a certified pizza maker, check out the International School of Pizza Website for more info: Internationalschoolofpizza.com

    North Beach
    1570 Stockton St
    (415) 835-9888

    http://tonyspizzanapoletana.com/

    Cuisine: Traditional

    Ambience: Casual

    Price $$

  • Life & People

    I AM BOOKS - Your Italian American Cultural Hub in Boston

    “I’m into simple names, a name that would stick. I AM Books is actually not only a simple name but its an acronym for “Italian AMerican BOOKS.” Some people don’t understand these play on words but once they do, they’re blown away by it.” That’s how Nicola Orichuia, the Italian born journalist, describes the idea behind what it can be considered a little cultural miracle - the very first Italian American bookstore in the US.

    I AM BOOKS - a simple name with a great concept, clever and effective like an Italo Calvino’s piece of writing, ingenious in its lightness and rich with meaning.

    From Journalist to Bookstore Owner

    Born in Rome, the Italian journalist moved to the United States in 2008 to do a master in journalism in Chicago and later on he started working for the Italian American magazine Fra Noi, which he still covers. Then he moved to Boston with his wife and that’s where he stabilized both his personal and professional carrier since 2010. In December 2012 the journalist launched a new website and magazine Bostoniano.info - Boston’s Italian American Voice. The online network turned also into a printed magazine, the Bostoniano Magazine that along with Orichuia’s experience with Fra Noi, prepared the terrain for his most ambitious project to date, the Italian American bookstore that he then opened in 2015.

    An Italian American Bookstore

    “The bookstore is an Italian-American bookstore,” likes to specify Nicola Orichuia,  “it is not specifically an italian bookstore - and there is a difference in my opinion -  me and my partner in this adventure, Jim Pinzino, didn’t think it would have been a successful business if we would have focused just on Italian books.”

    The store in facts exists to sell books about Italian culture and Italy, and in order to reach out as many people as possible, Pinzino and Orichuia had to have a lot of English texts based books as well to relate to a broader audience in Boston.

    “Around 90% of the books and literature here are related to Italian culture.” Continued Orichuia, “the genres vary from fiction, non-fiction, historical books, cookbooks and so on. We also have sections of books related to a specific Italian area, from the north to the south. There is a wide range of topics and authors that are available. Some are less known than others, but we have many classics like Dante or Calvino. There are also contemporary authors that are translated every year, and we try our best to promote them and introduce them to the public.”

    A Specific Market for a Specific Mission

    A big challenge for a big mission, to share and promulgate the Italian culture and literature in a city like Boston, already renowned for its fertile University life and sensitive to the themes of cultural exchange and education. But was there a specific demand for Italian culture? I AM BOOKS proves that the answer would be a positive one, specifically in the area where the bookstore stands, the historical Italian neighborhood of North End.

    “We have a specific market,” underlined Orichuia, “we know exactly what we’re looking for. But, sometimes it feels like we’re looking for a needle in a haystack. Every year, there are dozens and dozens of titles in Italian from big publishers to small publishing companies. There are many different kinds of customers. Thankfully, we are in a tourist area in Boston. North End it is also an area where most of the Italian immigrants settled. I attract them by offering events on a constant basis. The events are also a part of our mission because we believe that by offering events, topics to discuss and presentations we can be a part of a larger discussion on what it means to be an italian immigrant and an Italian-American.”

    A Point of Reference for Schools

    The bookstore impact on the Boston’s Italian-American community has been growing through the years, intersecting also with schools educational programs. Bilingual programs - English/Italian - haven’t been officially introduced in American schools by the United States Department of Education yet. Just recently a program was launched in New York City but there’s still a lot to do. So the relevance of realities like I AM BOOKS it is particularly significant for the community, and becomes a space to preserve and nurture the Italian language and culture to be passed down also to the future generations.

    “We are always looking for new opportunities.” Said Orichuia elaborating on this point. “Here in New England there is an institution that helps Italian to be taught in schools. We also help with schools who are looking for books for their classes. With that said, we’re also opened to partnerships across the border. We have had teachers from NY, NJ, FL and CA and we are more than happy to ship books across the country. It is one of our objectives to become a point of reference for schools."

     

  • Some of the "Wine Leaders Awards" winners with Lucio Caputo, President of the Italian Wine & Food Institute honoring Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations in New York . Photo Credit Iwona Adamczyk
    Facts & Stories

    Gala Italia - An Effervescent 33rd Edition

    Gala Italia - An Institution

    The Italian Wine & Food Institute in New York is a non-profit organization founded in 1983 to support and celebrate the excellence of Italian wines and gastronomy in the US. Since 1985, the Institute has been organizing the Gala Italia continues to be the most prestigious event for Italian culture.

    The highly-anticipated 33rd edition confirmed the exceptional and impeccable style of the event from the location to the top class hospitality.

    The relevance of the Institution and of the Gala was also underlined by a note sent directly from Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York.

    “New York is renowned as a city built by immigrants from around the world, and the remarkable multiculturalism of the five boroughs is reflected in our diverse and dynamic restaurant scene. IWFI id guided by its mission to educate American consumers about the many high-quality wines and food products that boast the “Made in Italy” stamp. Its annual Gala brings together the top vintners and producers from across Italy to offer tastings and share their rich gastronomic traditions with food and beverage industry professionals from New York and beyond.” Reads an excert from the Mayor’s note.

    The 33rd Edition

    Guests had the chance to immediately warm up savoring the exquisite wines that were presented and later awarded during the event. The Wine Tasting in the Petit Salon of the Essex included Antinori, Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2013 – Bertani, Pinot Grigio 2016 – Castello di Querceto, IGT Il Sole di Alessandro 2009 – Fontanafredda, Gavi di Gavi 2016 – Lungarotti, Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2010 – Planeta, La Segreta Il Bianco 2016 – Rocca delle Macie, Moonlite 2016 – Sella e Mosca, La Cala Vermentino DOC 2016 and Villa Marcello, Prosecco 2015.

    These Italian wines have already reached celebrity status having been nominated at the UN Security Council last November during the Italian Presidency.

    The tasting then continued in an even fancier way. Guests were invited to a chic dinner held at the Grand Ballroom where they had the chance to appreciate the wines paired with a high-quality menu conceived by Executive Chef Andrew Burriesci. It was a real tour of Italian wineries in a single meal with the wines presented: the Marchesi Antinori, Tenuta Guado al Tasso Vermentino 2016; the Planeta, Santa Cecilia, Noto DOC 2010; the Col d’Orcia, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2013; the Travaglini, Gattinara Riserva DOCG 2011; the Lungarotti, Torgiano Rosso Vigna Monticchio, Rubesco Riserva DOCG 2009; the Sella e Mosca, Marchese di Villamarina DOC 2010 and the Castello di Querceto, IGT la Corte 2007.

    Awards and Special Guests

    After the delicious dinner, Dr. Lucio Caputo, President of IWFI but also of the International Trade Center of New York and GEI – Gruppo Esponenti Italiani (Group of Italian Representatives); took the stage to present Wine Leader Awards given to the wineries protagonists of the night.

    Ambassador Cardi received the congratulations for his work from all the representatives of the wineries before being awarded with the Italian Wine & Food Institute Special Award of merit in recognition of his constant contribution to the Italian wine industry. The Ambassador presented a selection of great Italian wines to the members of the UN Security Council, an unprecedented occasion.

    Caputo then presented another acknowledgement, the Italian Wine & Food Institute Special Award to the Italian Trade Commissioner, Maurizio Forte. The award praises the significant job the Forte and the Italian Trade Agency is doing with their promotional campaign, Italian Wine - Taste the Passion, in favor of Italian wines that will be conducted in the US in 2018-2020.

    Italian Wine - Taste the Passion

    “It was a great honor to receive an award,” said Forte, “which we see as encouragement to continue our efforts. The event was an appropriate setting for the launch of the Italian Wine Project USA and the associated promotional campaign — also announced the next day in Rome on the occasion of the Vinitaly 2018 press conference — which aims to elevate the image of Italian wine in the US in support of Italy’s vibrant wine culture and its wineries.”

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    For more info on the Italian Wine & Food Institute please click here >>>

     

  • Dining in & out

    La Centrale Miami - Hospitality the Italian Way

    In Ancient Greece, hospitality was a right, with the host being expected to make sure the needs of his guests were met. The Italians’ hospitality customs and rituals come directly from that culture and are infused in what is today addressed as “vivere all’Italiana”, or “la dolce vita”, that has become a trend and Italy’s trademark, often replicated, but never duplicated.

    That rich tradition certainly runs through the veins of Jacopo Giustiniani, a native Italian raised between his family’s winery, the Fattoria Sardi in Lucca (Tuscany), and Florence, his hometown. He first brought his wine expertise to New York in 2007 where he worked as a Wine Director and Buyer for the SA Hospitality Group that owns some of the classiest Italian restaurants chains in New York such as St. Ambroeus, Casa Lever and Felice Wine Bar that Giustiniani personally opened.     

    Conceptualizing La Centrale

    After a decade spent working in NY at the top of his game, the restaurateur felt ready to take a chance and canalize his idea of hospitality into one of his biggest passions, food halls. The chance to turn that passion into a reality came when he got in touch with Matthias Kiehm.

    “In May 2015, I met Matthias Kiehm who shares with me the same passion for food halls, and who has actually worked in some of the biggest ones including Harrods in London,” Giustiniani told us. “We had the dream to open an Italian food hall and we thought that certainly the US was ready for other Italian food halls, even more after Eataly paved the way in such an excellent and successful way. Therefore, we started travelling through the US and Europe to study the different food halls. In Spain, we bumped into one that really reflected what we had in mind for our hall: we wanted to bring to the picture a concept of high design, starting with the materials. Materials that would make the host travel with his imagination to Italy  to create a sensorial experience.”

    “We wanted to come by design and top class hospitality, the way a restaurant would more than a food store, creating a real tour of Italy inside La Centrale,” continued the restaurateur. “For example, when you go to have coffee, we will bring you to Sicily with the Sicilian pastries and the decor of the maiolica and terra-cotta wares from the city of Caltagirone and a beautiful mural of Mount Etna; when you go to the meat restaurant, we bring you to Tuscany with the Manetti-Gusmano terra-cotta wine amphoras from the Chianti area while you enjoy the Bistecca alla Fiorentina; when you go to savoir fish, you will be immersed in the atmosphere of the Liguria region.”

    “We Cook what we Sell and we Sell what we Cook!”

    It is like when you are touring the Italian Peninsula, and you feel like buying the exquisite delicacies that you’ve been eating  trying to recreate those dishes when you come back home; in the same way, La Centrale works as a shopping center. It is not a retail business, but you can buy the products that were served to you and that were used to prepare the dishes that you enjoyed. You can bring home the culinary experience you lived, and treasure that memory.

    That’s how the model of La Centrale came about. It is comprised of 14 different Italian eateries, cafes, and shopping options spanning three levels. The different dining experiences take direct inspiration from the 20 prominent food regions of Italy. Close to the restaurants, you can find over a 1,000 specialty retail items, an extensive Italian winery on the third floor, a gelato shop, cooking studio and posh cocktail bars. All the dishes that you taste come with handy complimentary recipe cards and shopping lists of the ingredients to purchase in order to recreate the magic of an Italian meal at home. “We cook what we sell and we sell what we cook!,” is in fact La Centrale’s motto.             

    “We have amazing Italian brands that we use in our kitchen and that the shopper can buy,” Giustiniani explained further. “We have Caffè Lavazza; Venchi, Mulino Bianco products, Loacker, Acqua Smeraldina and many others. We want to educate our customers on how to eat Italian, so if you have fish, you should pair it with an oil from Liguria; if you have meat, you might need a greener oil. We also make  handmade pasta and granita. Another venue that falls into our educational mission is La Cucina, a space where we will provide Italian cooking classes in a fun way. You learn how to make pasta, for example, enjoying a nice glass of wine in a relaxed and fun environment. This is my idea of 'hospitalian'.”

    The Chefs

    For Executive Chef of La Centrale, Giustianiani wanted a name that would guarantee class and top notch expertise. He found it in Chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia, a native of Orbetello in Tuscany, who brought to the food hall his 30 years of experience in the dining business. He was nominated as one of the best Italian chefs in Vegas and worked for some of the most upscale restaurants, such as the former Valentino at the Venetian Hotel, GIADA’s Restaurant, The Cromwell, but also at the Osteria Del Circo at the Bellagio Resort and Casino.

    Giustiniani is enthusiastic about Scarmiglia joining La Centrale and about the entire cooking team: “I tried to bring to La Centrale different chefs from different regional culinary traditions of Italy. That’s why alongside with the talent of our Executive Chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia, I called other unique talents like the one of Chef Vincenzo Boriello who will take care of the pasta and Neapolitan pizza section. We also have foreign cooks trained in Italian cooking who will bring their individuality to the cooking and propose something that is always fresh. We have 80 cooks total and 12 chefs.”

    #MiamiGoesItalian

    This hashtag, used as an ad to promote the food hall, effectively encapsulates La Centrale’s mission. Miami is a city that is rapidly changing, a city that wants to become a world benchmark of excellence. The Sunshine City is of course well known for its beaches and the tourism concentrated around the ocean.

    “But the land part of the city  is becoming increasingly similar to a city like New York,” explains Giustiniani, and this growth is affecting  Made in Italy and the Italian community as well: “The perception of the Made in Italy in Miami is seeing a new spring. I can compare it to what New York was like 10 years ago. The city is full of Italians and the Brickell City Centre, for example where La Centrale stands, is filled with at least 30 Italian stores like Valentino, Acqua di Parma, Armani, Sundek. When you walk through the mall, you can hear everybody speaking Italian.”

    The Italian community in Miami is also graced by the presence of important institutions such as the Consulate General of Italy and the Dante Alighieri Society of Miami. It will be interesting to see how these institutions will interact with La Centrale that aims to become another fundamental landmark for the Italian culture in the city.

    We asked Giustiniani about it: “We welcome all of the institutions with open arms. We chose not to involve them right away because before asking for collaborations, we wanted to demonstrate our value and what La Centrale is and what potential it has. If the institutions appreciate the work that we do and they would like to collaborate with us, it would be an honor. But in the last years, we focused more on the process of contextualizing our brand making it recognizable and competitive in the market.”

     

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