A woman arrives a half hour late to a beautiful, family-run Italian Restaurant on Kensington High Street. At the end of the bright room are two tables set up with pasta-making supplies: cutting boards, pasta machine, knives, dough. Behind them is a blue-tiled pizza oven and counter. People are milling between the two areas, orange drinks in hand.
Woman: I am so sorry I’m late! The circle line was delayed!
Restaurant Rep: Don’t worry about it! We are just getting started on the Pizzicotto masterclass.
(Woman is handed an Aperol spritz by one of the Restaurant employees)
Restaurant Rep: So whats happening is that we’re making chestnut gnocchi at the tables, and activated charcoal pizza by the oven. We are about to finish the first round so you can hop in in a few minutes.
The Woman is seen seated at one of the pasta tables with a red cutting board and container of flour in front, a pile of dough on her left and a knife on her right. Marianna Giglio, the Chef and Teacher, is standing to her left.
Marianna: This is chestnut flour we source directly from Italy. Its very sweet and only available in season. We are going to be making gnocchi that we will then eat at the end of the class.
(Marianna continues to lead the students through the process of forming the dough, rolling into logs, cutting into slabs and then moulding into shape using the tines of a fork. The class is also encouraged to eat some of the raw dough, which the woman finds to be indeed sweet)
The woman stands beside the long pizza counter with the other students. She marvels at the beautiful Italian wood-burning pizza oven and learns that Pizzicotto uses 72 hour proofed stone ground dough shipped directly from a mill in the Apennine Mountains. Andrea Serrichio, Head Pizzaiolo and Teacher, begins the class.
Andrea: So we are going to be making charcoal pizzas! Feel free to decorate with any number of ingredients and then you can put them in the oven yourself.
(The students choose to keep the pizzas simple with tomato and cheese and take photographs of the impressive looking dough and beautiful oven. A few make unsuccessful attempts to place their pies in the stove, but all eventually require the deftness of Andrea)
The woman is seated at a table with the rest of the class. Red and white wine is offered and then the food comes in a steady succession. Polenta squares, Seafood salad, vegetarian and meat Pizza, chestnut pasta with butternut squash, bolognese. The woman has only a moment to take a picture as she’s enjoying the food so much. The owner, James Chiavarini comes over to talk about the Restaurant.
James: We celebrate “alla brace” cooking here at Pizzicotto, which means “to cook over embers” as well as a heavy emphasis on “Tera Madre” meaning the “Mother Earth” of Italian produce. We are a member of the Slow Food Community and we place importance on small-scale suppliers and artisinal food producers that supply to us exclusively and directly from Italy. We make our pasta by hand every day and my family has been owning and running II Portico Restaurant for three generations before I made the move to expand to Pizzicotto in 2015. We also host masterclasses regularly so that people can get hands-on experience with Italian food and culture.
(The woman listens intently between mouthfuls of the truly fantastic bolognese that rivals any she had in Bologna. Which would make sense; as Marianna, who is also James’ wife, worked at the Michelin starred II Don Giovanni in none other than, Bologna.)
It is lunchtime the next day as the woman carefully reheats her take-away Pizzicotto pizza. The crust is still chewy, the cheese still gooey, and the cured meat still addictively salty. She took two pieces home and feels full once she is finished, but laments that there is not more.
To learn more about Pizzicotto and find your own delicious inspiration with a reservation, make sure to click here to head to their website. And of course, join in on the social media conversation by following @ on Twitter and by ‘Liking’ their Facebook Page. We can’t wait to hear what you think of your very own experience and which menu items you loved most!
Make sure to come along on my culinary adventures by following my Instagram Account. See something you’d like me to cook or write about? Tag me! I can’t wait for you to join in on the #DoTheDaniel adventures.
All the best,