- extra virgin olive oil
- black mission figs
- prosciutto di parma
- goat cheese
- balsamic reduction
- pecorino romano
- 15 | 19
For those of you who have not been introduced to our next pizza special, let me give you a bit of backstory.
14 years ago, Joe Fugere, the founder and owner of Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria, handed over the reins of menu development to me. This was a time when the landscape of Tutta Bella was much different. We had only been open eight or nine months and the menu was much simpler. Think 10 pizzas, four salads, two desserts and so on. Neapolitan pizza and cuisine was in its infancy of being introduced and understood in Seattle and I fit the bill, too. I knew nothing about it.
Regardless, Joe saw my passion and the day came when he asked me for any thoughts I may have for pizzas. The next day I returned with several pages of a legal pad filled with my ideas. Well, while they were all rooted in Italy, not a single one of them made the cut as they were not specific to Naples or the region. Looking back, I honestly to this day do not know how I was given the thumbs up to put a fig on a pizza. At that time you would have NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER found a fig on a pizza in Naples (which has since changed, btw). Set Naples aside, in this country you probably wouldn’t have found a fig on a pizza outside of maybe California, either.
So, what was it? Maybe it was a throwback to Joe’s youth of savoring the deliciousness of a fig pulled right off the tree in his Beacon Hill neighborhood. The area was at one time a destination for Italian immigrants who planted all kinds of fruit trees, figs being one of them. And, if you look just right, you can still find them scattered about. Plums, too!
Regardless, the fig connection was made to southern Italy after doing a bit of research. It turns out the Calabrese have an affinity for figs whether they are fresh, dried or candied. This was the hook for our fig pizza with the rest to follow being inspired by my past. The Calabrese pizza was born after a remembrance of a fond delight from my own youth – a fresh fig stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto, warmed in the oven and drizzled with an aged balsamic. Quite moving and a prime example of beauty in simplicity!
The first two years we ran this pizza, people thought we were crazy. Who puts a fig on a pizza? Right?! We were throwing more figs away than serving as they were over-ripening before we could use them. Then, BOOM! Year number three it clicked. Seattle realized how insanely good this pizza is and it has been non-stop every year since. We get calls and requests for this pizza every year, all year round. One person sees figs at their grocery, somehow they tell the rest of the city and the requests really go off the hook! So, for all of you that keep calling, please stop! It’s here!
Ok, to the brass tacks… The Calabrese starts with extra virgin olive oil that we cover with fresh rosemary. We drape that with Prosciutto di Parma, silky goat cheese and a generous handful of Black Mission Figs. Sprinkle all with Pecorino Romano and then fire it in one our volcanoes for about 90 seconds. Once out of the oven, we give the pizza a good drizzle of a balsamic reduction and the Calabrese is born! At first bite you will understand why the masses go so nuts over this pizza as it is built for the American palate. Depending on the bite, you are getting a combination of sweet, salty, tangy, meaty, herbaceous and savory flavors. It’s magical!
Run to your closest Tutta Bella to experience a Calabrese. We will feature this pizza from August 13 to September 9. I repeat, we will feature this pizza from August 13 to September 9! If you miss it now, you will have to wait until summer of 2019.
–Brian Gojdics, Executive Chef