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Stanley Tucci’s Italy

Joelle Mentis, Staff Writer

Stanley Tucci

Some actors have a natural swagger. Yes, he was brilliant in The Devil Wears Prada, and owned it in The Hunger Games. But outside of that, Stanley Tucci just seems like a cool guy you want to catch up with and grab a slice. So that’s why his travel show worked. And speaking of slices, this is where to get one of his favs in Sicily.

You’re all as devastated as we are that Stanley Tucci’s: Searching for Italy got canceled after two seasons. But that won’t stop us from watching and rewatching the show to find out just where all the best Italian food can be found. Stanley’s Italian-American identity blends the best of Italian culture and heritage with his American sense of humor. If we already didn’t want to be his best friend, we do now. In the first episode, he ventures to Naples and the Amalfi Coast — our dream summer destinations. Here’s where to go in Stanley Tucci’s Italy.

The Episode:

Naples and the Amalfi Coast

The Restaurant:

The Food:

Margherita Pizza

Overview:

Stanley Tucci’s Italy uncovers the roots of Italian cooking. His first dish? Probably the most famous of Italian dishes: Pizza. And nowhere does he find better za than at an UNESCO world heritage site from the world renowned pizzaiolo.

But before he’s even eating any food, he’s making sure we know about the rich history of pizza. Because before pizza was pizza, pizza was bread and fat — rationed ingredients stretched lovingly by the hands of Italy’s original pizzaiolos.

Filming in 2019 was important for Stanley. We’re all aware of the way the pandemic shaped dining. Probably unsurprisingly, it caused upset in Napoli. For awhile Neopolitans could not step outside to get their favorite thing. On the day lockdown ended, 60,000 pizzas were ordered in the city. And though Covid was devastating, especially for Italians early on, the city of Napoli owes a lot to pandemics.

In fact, the famous Neopolitan pizza developed because of one. Before there was adequate sanitation, cholera plagued the city, which made cooking safely an important priority. Resourceful Italians fried their bread in hot oil, both to get rid of the disease, and cure their hunger. Some years later, the method became pizza.

The most authentic style of Neopolitan pizza looks like a calzone filled with ricotta, basil, pork fat and some secret nonna-approved ingredients. But the ever famous Margherita, named after the Italian princess, is widely recognized as the standard Neopolitan pizza of today.

While in Napoli, Stanley meets Enzo Coccia, the man regarded as Italy’s premier Pizzaiolo. In 2017, UNESCO recognized his art as an integral part of cultural heritage. Side note: the fact that such an important part of not only Italian, but world history is owed to cholera gives us hope that we might take away something beautiful from Covid-19. After all, creativity thrives with constraints. At any rate, Stanley learns that real Neopolitan pizza is only found in Naples. And Enzo is the master.

Starting with San Marzano tomatoes (real San Marzano tomatoes are exclusively grown at a small farm in Napoli — you can forget about those canned ones at the grocery store), the pizzaiolo makes a sauce which he spreads on a dough made from just flour and water. He then adds mozzarella, pecorino for saltiness and basil, and cooks the pizza in a hot stone oven for 45 seconds. The recipe is simple, but it’s all about the ingredients.

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