For most people, good food is a treat, or an indulgence, or even a celebration, but for me, good food has always been a way of life.
During my childhood years, each afternoon I would go to my nonna’s house after school while my parents were at work. You could smell the aromas of what was cooking in Nonna’s old garage all the way from the footpath. I would walk in and see a table covered with food: a plate of pasta with meat in the sauce, a frypan full of chips (‘patate fritte’, my favourite!), a salad from the garden that Nonno tended to each day, and if I was extra lucky, zucchini fritters or eggplant patties as well! These are great memories that will last a lifetime.
Over the years, good food has remained important, and I see it as one of the key binding ingredients for my family; every celebration was always coupled with a feast. But it was when I first started travelling regularly to Italy during my university years that I really felt the fascination take over.
It was June 2012 when I discovered Gabriele Bonci and his pizzas, and I can still remember walking into his pizzeria for the first time. The tiny Pizzarium, just outside Rome’s city centre, was at the top of my list of places to visit after reading that US Vogue called Gabriele the ‘Michelangelo of dough’. I had eaten plenty of pizzas in Italy before, but the ‘pizza al taglio’ concept was still new to me.
My first visit to Bonci’s certainly left a lasting impression. I had never eaten pizza quite like what I tasted at Pizzarium, with dough so fluffy and airy, crust so tasty and crunchy, and toppings that rewrote the books about what should go on top of a pizza! I became very intrigued, and spent much of the next year researching pizza al taglio and Gabriele himself.
It would be another year before I returned to Pizzarium in June 2013, and it was apparent that I was hooked (after all, getting a box of takeaway pizza from Pizzarium to snack on in the car for the drive to Tuscany). Like the previous year, I found myself fascinated with how Bonci was able to transform his pizzas into captivating, delightful creations. It was déjà vu to see lines out the door at Pizzarium, with intriguing and colourful pizzas filling the glass display while the ever-efficient servers took my orders. I started to wonder how I could wait another year between visits, and it was at this point that the Lievità dream began.
After a year of research, planning, preparation, and practice, I returned to Rome in June 2014. I had made contact with Gabriele and he agreed to teach me his methods in my own private class. I was overwhelmed with excitement but nervous at the same time. Signore Bonci was like a Roman Gladiator in size and stature, but down-to-earth, friendly as anything, and above all, he was extremely passionate. We were at ease immediately, and talked everything from family, to flour types, ovens, mixers, quantities, rising times, temperatures, mixing methods and so on.
Gabriele emphasised three things that will remain with me for a long time: The first and most important lesson was to remember that the quantities and ingredients of the dough mixture was only a small part of the process, the most important part of the perfect dough was all in the handling of it, or the manipulation (‘manipulazione’) of it. He actually scolded me for handling the dough too much, so I was learning quickly! The second was to get my hands on the best ingredients possible, focusing on quality organic produce. The third lesson was to always remember that pizza is only limited by the imagination.
It was all a very surreal experience, and was capped off with Gabriele offering me the opportunity to spend some ‘hands on’ time at Pizzarium, which I of course accepted with pleasure! Learning from Gabriele himself is something I will never forget, and I am proud to be able to call him a friend.
I will leave you with my favourite Italian proverb: ‘a tavola, non si invecchia’ which translates to: at the table with good food, friends and family, you do not become old. Luca Guerra Founder - Lievità
It all started in Rome in the late 1950s, when some clever artisan bakers decided to broaden their horizons. They wanted to make their bread more interesting, and so they began to experiment and came up with the idea of baking their dough in a pan and garnishing it with tomato.
But they encountered a few problems, notably with the dough mixture. They had tried to add oil into the dough, but this only exacerbated the problem as the pizza became too heavy.
The next wave of passionate artisan bakers came up with a solution to the problem.
They decided to add a lot more water into the dough mixture, and the added hydration made the dough much lighter than previously and importantly, easy to digest.
Over the years, special techniques have been developed along with different flours and varied rising times, all combining together to make pizza al taglio the most famous Roman street food of all.
How to enjoy Pizza Al Taglio
Our dough’s unique 72 hour rising time, combined with our special techniques makes for the perfect pizza base, light and fluffy and easy to digest, but also the perfect loaf of bread!
Lievità has commenced wholesale production from Northcote, selling the following goods to restaurants, cafés, supermarkets, and food stores:
- Pizza bases with San Marzano tomatoes (par-baked, fresh, or frozen)
- Pizza bianca, our white base which is perfect to use for foccaccias (fresh or frozen)
- Lievità loaf
- Mini panini
For enquiries please contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 03 9489 9498.