My name is Alberto and I'm a PIZZA ENTHUSIAST. I designed and built a brick oven in my backyard and use it all the time for homemade pizza. Check out my website

  • Website
  • Location: Chicago
  • Favorite foods: Chicago, Napoletana, New York, Roman, Sicilian, Pan, Stuffed...
  • Last bite on earth: Margherita

Jeff Varasano on Baking, Branding, and the Business of Pizza (Part 2)

The VPN smashing is so lame and corny it makes me sick. Jesus. VPN is a quality standard and nothing else. The VPN doesn't attempt to tell you how good the pizza is and they are definitely not the ones making the pizza.

To use a manufacturing analogy, all the vendors I use for my day job are all ISO certified. They meet a level quality determined by ISO. But guess what, some of those vendors are the shits! Should I hate ISO and talk trash about it every opportunity I get or should I choose a different vendor? I'm going to choose a different vendor and then request to see their ISO cert as well.

The VPN ensures a level of quality. The ingredients, the oven, etc... are all required to meet that level. Some meet and/or exceed those levels and produce great pizza. But guess what, some VPN pizzerias are the shits! So choose a different pizzeria, but don't knock the VPN because it doesn't make sense. If it didn't have the cert. it would just be another one of the hundreds of thousands of mediocre pizzerias in the world and no one would say anything. At least with the VPN there is a baseline and you know the ingredients are quality and the oven is a legit wood fired brick oven.

There are a lot of freedoms the owner still has to implement some creativity and deliciousness after they receive the certification. I would even bet some of the beloved non-vpn pizzerias that we praise so highly on Slice wouldn't have to do much or anything at all to receive the cert.

Slamming the VPN just means you don't understand it.

That's a rant.

Forza Pizza!

DIY Amaro

Any other gentian root substitutes that are more common for a home amaro maker?

Book Giveaway: 'Pizza: Seasonal Recipes From Rome's Legendary Pizzarium,' by Gabriele Bonci

Pancetta - Crispy Potatoes - Ricotta
Pictured Here

Get Smashed Burgers Delivered by Train at The Choo-Choo Restaurant in Des Plaines

And I don't know how many miles you're talking, but Labriola in Oak Brook is top of the line.

Get Smashed Burgers Delivered by Train at The Choo-Choo Restaurant in Des Plaines

American Wildburger in Des Plaines. 1550 E. Oakton. Hasn't been open for a year but some very good burgers. Right around the corner from the Pup.

Pizza Obsessives: Jimmy Coponi

A great write up ruined by a bunch of slobs with no manners. Who are you to personally attack a 17 year old and what he believes in? Disgusting. I am so disappointed my (user) name is associated with some of the members of this community.

Good luck Jimmy. I admire you and enjoyed everything you had to say. Forza waglio!!

My Pie Monday: Sourdough Pizza, Kimchi Pies, Roasted Cauliflower, and More!

Wow thanks guys. It was a quick all-purpose-flour-24-hour-room-temp-ferment dough. Hydration about 69%. Dark bottom because I oiled the bottom of the pan, put it on the bottom rack, and cooked the last 5 mins or so with foil on top. Makes a huge difference.

It's all fun but I want to cook outsiiiiiiiiide!!! ;)
Offseason Album

My Pie Monday: Sourdough Pizza, Kimchi Pies, Roasted Cauliflower, and More!

Thank you 11USCCH7! And great looking pies to usual!

What's Up in Pizza: Italy Suffering Shortage of 6,000 Pizzaioli

@Kenji - I don't think I misread your words. I think I interpret the articles differently. I don't see why you're asking "which is it?". It's both. There is a shortage of pizza makers in Italy so immigrants are stepping in. Those who are employed are still pizza makers but there are still 6,000 positions to be filled. I didn't see anywhere where it said the positions are all filled. I think what you say they are implying is far fetched.

What's Up in Pizza: Italy Suffering Shortage of 6,000 Pizzaioli


"If an immigrant can't is not "good at making pizza," it's because you haven't trained them right, plain and simple."
Are you saying training can get someone to do anything well? And if tomorrow I fail at my job I should blame my trainer? How long do you train someone?

"If they are simply no good at making pizza period, whether an immigrant or not, then you ought to be hiring somebody else."
How long do you keep hiring somebody else before calling it a shortage?

This has to do with immigrants picking up less desirable jobs in Italy, like most countries. Is that news? You took the bait because this story is ironic in that it's occurring in Italy and pizza is an Italian food. Then you twisted it into an Italian arrogance story and tried putting the Italians in their place. That's so played out. If the headline said "Shortage of Skilled Welders in Italy" I doubt you would've ranted.


Chicago Pizza: Get Your Next Pizza at Avec

I had the same experience when coming across the pizza at Avec. Was hesitant to order it and then it came out great. Mine had shaved speck, blue cheese, spinach and golden raisins. Very good. Here's a pic if you want. Another weird part is recommending Avec when someone asks for a good pizza!

Nice write.


Chicago Pizza: Flour & Stone Tries to be 'Chicago's Brooklyn Style Pizza'

FlavorCountry, I agree. I don't understand the "too early to review" theory. The oven wasn't installed on opening day. Practice.

Nice writeup Nick.

Top This: Nutella, Berry, and Ricotta Stuffed Pizza (à la Keste)

I don't know about yours, but my Nutella doesn't drizzle.

Seriously Delicious Holiday Giveaway: The Baking Steel

rapini and pancetta

A Tour of Sicily at Next in Chicago

Rio, no apologies necessary. All good.

A Tour of Sicily at Next in Chicago

@Rio I expected Achatz to do a modern, Next-inspired, Sicilian menu. That doesn't make me pissed, it's just not something I would like. No offense to anyone. I also didn't get pissed when I saw traditional. I was trying to say since he went traditional I was conflicted because, although probably delicious and interesting to me, why go to Next for traditional Sicilian?

Achatz cooking traditional Sicilian in my grandma's kitchen would be VERY interesting to me!

A Tour of Sicily at Next in Chicago

Mr. Nick - Yep. At least not with those menu items.

A Tour of Sicily at Next in Chicago

Well said Kenji. These pics surprise me too.

I was actually very conflicted when I heard Next was going to Sicily. I am half Sicilian (other half calabrese) and my grandparents own an Italian restaurant. I thought that Achatz was going to take all the comforting and loving dishes of Sicily and put some crazy spin on them. I knew if I went that I would probably just leave angry. Now, after seeing this, I'm even more conflicted because he did the opposite and went traditional! Like you, this definitely threw me for a loop...although I wouldn't pay that kind of money for traditional Italian anyway. Expensive or Fine Dining Sicilian is contradicting.

Great pics though, Andrew, thanks!

Ten Favorite Los Angeles Pizzas

Awesome list. Definitely useful.

I'm from Chicago, I may or may not be over myself, I love bread, puppies and happiness are awesome. It's definitely pizza and it definitely tastes good, but Mozza's crust:body ratio is way too high. Almost to the point where I feel ripped off cuz they filled me up on bread...great bread, but bread. Can't wait to try the others on my next visit. Thanks!

A Pizza My Mind: Does It Really Matter Who Makes Your Pizza?

Great article and great comments.

I just wanted to point out that Jonathan Goldsmith, of Spacca Napoli, never made the pizzas himself...although I know he can. However his passion for pizza is unsurpassed and he truly cares about every pizza that goes in and comes out of his oven. In fact Nella Grassano, who later opened Nella was one of the first pizzaioli. The current 'iolo has been there ever since. Needless to say they share some of Jonathan's passion. So, to reaffirm and agree with a point already made, having a staff that cares is the only way the 'iolo doesn't matter.

Good stuff.

My Pie Monday: Special Halloween Mystery Edition

I only got dhorst, atmast, and amusebouche1. Nice consistency guys!

25% is not too great, but this was cool. #2 and #10 really had me flipped. Same with #8 and #9.

Good job Meredith!

Farm to Factory Tour of Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes

Seems like they need an artisanal cover for their truck. One made of organic polyester hand-woven by Mr. Bianco from the spent wheat stalks used to make the flour in his pizzeria.

Mother Dough: Is "Good" Good Enough in Los Angeles?

Maybe the price hike is to fund some mosaic tiles for his oven...? Just kidding, it all sounds very good. Nice writeup.

College Tours: Best Cheap Eats Near DePaul University

Don't know how cheap Nella is. Hard to leave there without spending $20 all-in for one person.

My Pie Monday: Mortadella, Onion Jam, Avocado BLT and More!

@Norma thank you. Garlic and oil in a saute pan. Once the garlic cooks a little then add the rapini. Its leaves will shrink/cook like spinach so you can overflow your pan. Cooking doesn't take long at all. Less than 10 minutes in the pan plus they'll see time in the oven. I add the sun dried tomatoes to the saute pan for the last 2 minutes or so. Same with purple grapes.

forzapizza hasn't written a post yet.

Limited Time Offer: What Happens When, Chef John Fraser's Pop-Up in Nolita

Taking frenetic New York dining to the next level is the recent trend of "pop-up" restaurants, where even if you're a regular, you're not a regular. Take, for example, What Happens When, the Cleveland Place pop-up helmed by Chef John Fraser or the Upper West Side's Dovetail. Working with a 9 month lease, the small restaurant (about 40 seats) features a complete overhaul every month, changing everything from the menu and decor, down to the attractive waitstaff's uniforms. More