Jessica DeMay

Top Pizzaiolos Sharing Their #1 Pizza Secret

We went ahead and reached out to some of the most popular Pizzaiolos we have today. We only had one question: "what's the #1 secret in your pizza making that you can share with our readers?" This is what they had to say...

Whether you're a fan of Neapolitan Pizza or prefer American Pizza, there is something to learn from these professionals.

Vito Iacopelli

Vito Iacopelli holding a pizza in his hand with a tattoo of a pizza on his other hand

Vito Iacopelli is a well known master Pizzaiolo and Youtuber. He runs his own masterclass, which we strongly recommend, teaching both established Pizzaiolos and pizza enthusiasts how to make the perfect pizza. He has been making pizza since he was 8 years old, he has been working in pizza restaurants in Napoli and now he is running his own Pizza restaurant in Los Angeles called Provami.

When we ask him what his number one pizza making secret is, Vito says:

The secret of making the perfect pizza light and fragrant is the timing of the fermentation. Make the Poolish 24 hours before you start making your pizza. Keep the Poolish in room temperature for 1 hour, and then 23 hours in the fridge. And finally, another hour outside the fridge before you use it in your dough. This will take your dough to another level.

He goes on and provides us with yet another tip:

When you make the dough, add 20 grams of malt to every one litre of water (2% malt). This will make the gluten of your dough nice and elastic. This method is perfect for high hydration pizza dough.

Marco Graziani

Marco Graziani

Marco Graziani is a Pizzaiolo with a touching story. As a child, he was an active kid and very interested in sports. At the age of five, he got into Karate and even joined the Italian national team. He later did military service and transitioned over to Boxing, where he competed a few matches while working as a salesman on the side. In 2008, Marco had a serious accident that put him in a coma. Understandably, Marco had a hard time getting back into sales after the coma. But he wouldn't let the injury get the best of him.

Eventually, Marco's paths crossed with Walter Picariello's, owner of Pizzeria Gennaro Esposito. Walter and his wife Lia were pioneers of the Neapolitan Pizza in Turin and members of the Verace Pizza Napoletana AVPN Association. This is where everything changed. Learn more about Marco.

When we ask Marco about what his pizza making secret is, he reveals to us:

What I usually tell my customers here in Brisbane and to my followers on Instagram is to consider two important aspects before they start kneading. Number one: Study. Number two: Practice.

That’s the secret.
Studying the basic theory they will understand the role of the yeast and its relationship with temperature, then the difference between flours. And most importantly… the cooking process. 

As a member of the AVPN (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana), I’ll tell you this simple recipe and method that I use:
800g of 00 flour
200g of type 1 
680ml water
0.2% yeast
2% salt

2h at room temp in a plastic container, 22h cold fermentation in the fridge. Then shape the dough into balls, and rest 6h at room temp (max 25 degrees).

Heat up the oven to 430 C and let the Pizza cook for 90-120 seconds.

Ismaele Romano

Ismaele Romano holding a pizza

Ismaele Romano was born in a family of bakers. His grandfather had a bakery in a small beach in Sicily, Agnone Bagni. The love for food and pizza struck Ismaele early, and at 15 he started working in a pizzeria. He was also working in a pastry shop in Lentini, 25 km from Catania, the area of ​​oranges and citrus fruits. At 16, Ismaele first moved to Milan and then to Florence, where he was head chef of a Vegetarian cuisine at an international college. In 2000, he met the woman who later became his wife in 2002. His wife is from California by origin, and so in 2010, they moved to California, where Ismaele's career began as a Sous Chef and Capo Pizzaiolo. In 2016, they moved to Nevada, Las Vegas. Today, Ismaele is working on a project where Focaccia and Street Food will be the fulcrum of everything.

In reality, there is no real secret more than the knowledge of the material and a generous pinch of love. Having said that, I use a 20% carry-over dough, let me tell you about it. Using a carry-over dough, I get better fermentation and also more marked and complex aromas. Then it is important to allow for a long and slow fermentation of at least 36 hours, plus another 2-3 hours at room temperature.

When you prepare a dough always keep a little aside, leave it at room temperature for about 8 hours, and then in the fridge for at least 24 hours then you will weigh and add to the next dough in a percentage of 20%. And that is how you make carry-over dough.

Pedro Pernambuco

Pizzaiolo Pedro Pernambuco

Pedro Pernambuco is a pizzaiolo and Master Instructor certified by Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli.

Since 2010 he has been dedicated to certifying new pizzaiolos, spreading the culture of Italy through this ancient gastronomic art.

He also works as a technical consultant assisting his customers in the development and improvement of new products and the opening of new pizzerias in keeping with the Italian tradition.

He has a recipe channel on YouTube dedicated to pizza lovers.

Pedro Pernambuco from Bora Fazer Pizza says:

In my doughs I usually add 25% of type 1 flour, ground to stone. It has characteristics of whole wheat flour, but it is more extensible. In this case it is possible to increase the hydration of the dough.

André Guidon

André Guidon holding a pizza in front of an oven

André Guidon lived during most of his childhood in New York, United States. There, he spent his days in a family dairy, where mozzarella and ricotta were produced for local Italian restaurants. Grandson of Italians, he soon fell in love with gastronomy.

Influenced by his wife's family – all Neapolitans –, in 2006, André took his first course at the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association (AVPN), in Naples.  In 2010, he moved to that Italian city to learn more about the culture before opening his own pizzeria.  During this period, he had the opportunity to work with great names in the country's cuisine.

In 2013 he opened Leggera, the first pizzeria in São Paulo to exclusively serve pizza from Naples.  A year later, he won the award in Naples for the best foreign pizza maker at the Pizza Festival, a world pizza event. Leggera also has many national awards and in 2018 and 2020 received Tre Sphicci Gambero Rosso Italian award.

Since 2011, André has been the AVPN representative in Brazil and, in 2019, he became the president of the Brazil delegation.

André gives us the following advice:

Try to learn dough making without weighting the flour, try to learn the "Punto di pasta". That way you will always have a consistent product despite any humidity changes in the weather (humidity affects the dough directly).

And I always say it's not a race to see who hydrates the most a pizza dough, it's not a competition. Learn the exact point of your oven and your temperatures.

Rene Strgar

Rene Strgar

Rene Strgar is a passionate and self taught Pizzaiolo. He loves making Pizza and taking photos. He especially loves long fermented sourdough Pizza. About three years ago he got his first Ooni oven, which was a game changer in his Pizza making according to Rene. That is when his passion for Pizza reached a whole new level. He is actively operating his Instagram, Rene's Pizza, where you can find amazing photography that brings to life the most beautiful moments of pizza making.

Rene says:

My secret is that I never put oil in my sourdough pizza dough and there is a reason why.☝🏻

It’s adding extra fat to the dough and this way you are adding more work to your already hardworking friend yeast. Yeast needs to digest starch, sugar and everything what is inside the flour. So to make it more digestible for us you have to give less work to the yeast 👍🏻

Same goes for butter, baking powder and sugar! In fact, all the sugar we need is already in the flour.

Are you a well-known Pizzaiolo and wish to share your pizza-making secrets? Reach out to [email protected].

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Jessica DeMay
Jessica is the lead content creator of Dishcrawl. She has lived in Italy (Napoli) for 7 years and has since become absolutely obsessed with pizza.
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