Uncovering Italy’s Superlatives in people, places and things

For the Love of Pizza

Meet World Champion pizza maker Davide Civitiello

Pizza in Italy is serious business. There is a tabù inviolabile and an almost unwritten rule that tradition is not to be supplanted by innovation. In other words, don’t even think about making anything outside. World champion pizzaiolo (pizza-maker) Davide Civitiello was fully immersed in tradition when began making pizzas at the ripe old age of nine at the pizzeria “Da Gennaro” di Vincenzo Costa in Civitiello’s home town of Napoli. By 2002, at just 18 years old, Civitiello knew pizza-making was his calling and he joined the Rossopomodoro team in a move that would skyrocket Civitiello to superstar while flipping tradition for creativity. By 2013, Civitiello was crowned World ChampionPizzaiuolo Trofeo Caputo, winning over 600 competitors. Today, he is Capo Pizzaiolo, Chief Pizzamaker, one of the most prolific pizza restaurant chains in the world.

Fatt’na pizz e vedrai che il mondo ti sorriderà! Make a pizza and you’ll see the world smile – Pino Daniele. Or, as Civitiello says, eat a pizza and surely you will smile!

Do you consider yourself a traditionalist? Rule breaker?

“I would define myself as a traditionalist pizza chef,  with a strong look towards the future and innovation. Now I travel all over the world with pizza, I collaborate more and more with important chefs including many starred and if you don’t have a look important towards the future where you put effort and research you stay still while the pizza world goes fast.”

What makes a great pizza?

Surely quality raw materials but above all the hands of a pizza maker. When you put your heart into it even if you are simply a fan, the results are important.

Is pizza napoletana the best?

All [kinds of] pizza is good, but Neapolitan pizza also tells stories of Mugnai who have been making flour for years, farmers who have been growing tomatoes for years, cheesemakers who have been making mozzarella for years and many professional pizzaioli who from generation to generation carry on the art of Neapolitan pizza, that’s why it is special because it is not just a dish but a real journey of history and love. 

Hands or knife and fork?

Surely your hands, pizza is above all a typical dish of Neapolitan street food, and if you don’t eat it with your hands, in my opinion you don’t feel much emotion.

Is it easy to make homemade pizza?

The last few years the pizza world is growing more and more, enthusiasts who are now looking for the best flour for their doughs, try to replicate the processing techniques of their favorite pizza chef and finally manage to obtain good results.  

The advice I give to everyone is before doing, follow step by step all the procedures that they see being done by professionals. It is not by chance that my homemade pizza recipe has 10 million views. I can say that in my small way I have collaborated and helped many Italians to make a good homemade pizza.

For the Love of Pizza

Civitiello cares a lot about #pizzalife, and he shares it with the world – in his travels, his televisions series, and especially on his Instagram, where he shares recipes, tips and all other kinds of pizza secrets. For Davide, pizza is an incredible unifier, and  he loves how it inspires conversations, reaching people in the kitchens all over the world. Civitiello proudly promotes pizza UNESCO and was instrumental in the recognition of the art of Neopolitan pizza-making on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

What’s your favourite pizza? 

Often when a Pizzaiolo begins to learn he starts with his favorite pizza and it is almost always a margherita because, aside from being delicious, it is the pizza that the whole world eats, and it’s the pizza that made me World Champion,la Pizza Margherita è Napoli!” 

Interview by Erica Firpo.

Davide Civitiello foretasting the Pizza Margherita, his favourite one!
Photo courtesy of Davide Civitiello
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