Franco Pepe spent most of his childhood in his family’s pizzeria in the tiny town of Caiazzo. While his friends were vacationing at the beach, Franco was helping his father. That sacrifice has paid off. Today, Franco Pepe is considered one of the best pizza makers in Italy. Antonio Lucisano , Director of Consorzio della Mozzarella di Buffala D.O.P., introduces him as ‘the philosopher of pizza.’ I am ready to be indoctrinated.
In a methodical way, Franco Pepe has been experimenting with different types of flour for years. Different blends, different leavening times, different lavorazione. There are no recipes. It’s a delicate interaction of the senses: weighing the salt, feeling the dough, hearing the sound of the oven wood. There is nothing forced; nothing is ready before it should be.
This night, Franco invites some of his friends for a preview of his new restaurant. I am lucky to be there. I am seated next to Tommaso Esposito and his wife. We start with the Pizza a libretto and end with Franco’s reinterpretation of a Napolitan classic La Mastunicola.
Franco is a pizza craftsman. It even says so on his business cards. His hands are his tools; all of the dough is kneaded only by his hands. His patience is his strength; countless combinations of flour, water, yeast and time yield an amazing crust. His push for excellence sets him apart; a perfect pizza in a four-star setting.
Pepe in Grani : Vico S. Giovanni Battista 3, Caiazzo (Ce), T: +39 0823 862718.