It has been said that there is no one best pizza or pizzeria – there are only favorite pizzas and pizzerias. When it comes to those favorite pizzas, some people think it is not just about the ingredients, it is about the pizza oven itself. And perhaps no one subscribes to the oven theory more than New York pizza entrepreneur Donatella Arpaia. To prove it, Arpaia is building a five-ton volcanic mud brick pizza oven on-site at her soon-to-be NYC restaurant, Donatella. Arpaia’s oven will be hand-built entirely of materials imported from Naples, Italy including nearly 900 volcanic-mud bricks and bags of Neapolitan sand and cement.
Ms. Arpaia’s pizza-oven mentor is Enzo Coccia, a third-generation pizzaiolo who runs the famous Pizzeria La Notizia in Naples. Mr. Coccia will soon travel to Manhattan to build the oven on-site at Donatella. In a recent telephone interview Coccia said, “Only a few families know oven-making now.” He added “Pizza has been made this way for more than 250 years in Naples, in a way that is very specific to us. Everyone asks about the secret formula, but it’s mostly not about the ingredients. It is the construction of the oven, and a sensibility, a feeling from years and years of making the dough and understanding the process.”