Where did you have your first pizza? ( At home when Dad brought home a Chef Boy-Ar-Dee pizza kit for Sunday dinner. He ruined it with canned mushrooms and anchovies - yechh!)
Where did you have your most memorable pizza? ( Probably a tie between several places in Italy and M’tucci’s @ Lava Rock Brewing last night.)
A $144 billion-a-year business, pizza has been around for centuries and can be found in nearly every country around the world. Around 3 billion pizzas are made every year, 83% of Americans have eaten it in the past month, and there are more than 76,000 pizzerias in the U.S. The word “pizza” could have come from “pita” which were likely the first types of flatbread to be covered with toppings. Pizza’s story begins in Naples, Italy in the 17th century, according to food historians.
It was the arrival of tomatoes from the New World that gave Italy the most popular topping for the flat breads that had been prepared in Naples. Historians believe the first pizza was created in 1734 at a small corner shop near the port, where the food was popular with sailors going to sea. The first pizza was the marinara (Italian for sailor) and was topped with crushed tomatoes, olive oil, oregano and garlic. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba is considered to be the first pizzeria and is still operating at the original port location.
In Naples, pizza was considered food for the poor and was not embraced by royalty until 1889, when Raffaele Esposito from Pizzeria Brandi served Queen Margherita and King Umberto I his famous creation; tomato and mozzarella pizza topped with fresh basil. Bearing the colors of the newly-created Italian flag (red, white and green), the dish became a hit and is still one of the most commonly ordered pizzas in Italy.
While the types, shapes and ingredients of pizzas around the world vary wildly (squid in Japan, green beans in Brazil), the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana is the Naples-based, international governing body that sets forth the rules for Pizza Napoletana. They stipulate the ingredients and the size, and that it must be cooked in a wood-fired oven at temperatures between 806-896 degrees F and be finished in 90 seconds or less. There are even guidelines for the thickness of the center and the edges of the crust.
However precise, these rules result in the nearly perfect food with all of the taste groups covered. You have salt from the dough, sweetness from tomatoes, sour from the mozzarella di bufala and some bitterness from the lightly charred crust (the char should look spotty).
There are no certified AVPN pizzerias in New Mexico, and M’tucci’s doesn’t intend to be the first. Still, we embrace the style of Pizza Napoletano, creating pizzas that are true to our philosophy of fresh, great ingredients and hand made.
Six years ago, when M’tucci’s Italian opened, M’tucci’s Italian Market soon followed with Chefs Shawn Cronin and Cory Gray in charge of breads, pizzas, making mozzarella and curing meat. They had worked together at Farina Pizzeria and had a few ideas about creating the best pizza. According to them, the most important ingredient isn’t what’s on top - it’s the crust. It’s the most difficult ingredient to get right, and it’s the most critical to the flavor, the mouth feel and the integrity of the pizza.
Also, they wanted to create food that was more natural, that was easier to digest, and that would have a distinctive flavor. So, they tossed out the dry yeast and created their own starter for leavening. They also lowered the temperature and extended the time for proofing the period that the dough rises). That sourdough starter, special flour, water and salt is what makes M’tucci’s pizzas unlike any other pizza in the area.
While pizza is normally a simple food, making one is full of potential pitfalls: the dough can be too wet, or it can have too much flour, or it can be kneaded too much. It takes experience and technique to create a sublime pizza. All of our pizza chefs (pizzaiolo) agree on the most challenging part of making a pizza - the stretching of the dough. Some use a technique to stretch flat on the pizza peel and a few like to give it a light toss in the air (frowned upon by AVPN) to achieve an even stretch.
We think our sourdough crust is close to the flavor of Pizza Napoletano, since the crust stands in for the sour flavor you would get from mozzarella di bufala, which is not practical to use so far from its Southern Italy source.
In June, we didn’t have time to travel to Naples, so we had to be content with eating pizza in Tuscany. Still, we marveled at the thin crust, neither soggy nor crispy, and the perfect balance of ingredients.
Like so many things in Italy, they’ve been doing this for centuries and we do everything we can to soak up their culture and bring it to you.
NEWS FROM M’TUCCI’S
M’tucci’s @ Lava Rock Brewing Co.
M’tucci’s and Lava Rock Join Forces
M’tucci’s kitchen is now open at Lava Rock Brewing Co. Chef Fred Gallegos is heading a team of talent in the kitchen (making those great pizzas that you all love), and he has created a menu to complement the beers made by Ram Khalsa at the brewery. Click here to see the menu, a map of the location, and the hours.
We think you are going to love the food and beer pairing at Lava Rock. Come visit Lava Rock at 2220 Unser Blvd (about a mile north of I-40). Call (505) 836-1022 for details. Their website is: http://lavarockbrewpub.com/
Check out the site and follow them on Facebook: @LavaRockBC and Instagram: @Lavarockbc
Herb Roasted Duck: Served with Creamy Polenta, Grilled Asparagus, Cranberry Gastrique
Planet Oregon, Pinot Noir A little spicy, aromas of cherry, raspberry and smoke
Pan Seared Diver Scallops: Buttery soft with a lite sear
Mimi Chardonnay, Chateau St. Michelle Notes of apple and pear with a bright acidity, refreshing yet complex
Cut of the Day: 24 oz T-Bone
Liberty School, Cabernet Sauvignon California, Aromas of cherry, crushed rock, cigar box and hickory and tasting blackberry, sage, pepper, smoke and a minerally finish. $10 glass/$40 Bottle
Lemonade: Strawberry Basil --Gelato: Espresso -Sorbetto - Cucumber Lime
New Happy Hour Cocktail Menu
$3 Select Taps
$1 OFF all wines by the glass
$5 Aperol Spritz
$5 House Sauza Margarita
$6 House Infused Hollow Spirits Vodka Mule
$7 Tito's Martini
$7 Drink of the Week
8:30, Friday: Lani Nash Live in the Bar
M’tucci’s Italian Café & Market
The new Café & Market continues to wow our guests, primarily because of the amazing pastries in our display case every day. Our new hours are 8:00am - 6:00pm. We carry the same great Italian imports, all of our artisan breads, and a wide variety of imported, domestic, and house made cheese and meat. There is an expanded selection of coffee and pastries. We’ll still have charcuterie boards to eat in or take out with wine and beer by the glass. Click here to see our new menu.
Weekend Specials -
The Braise: Lightly Smoked & Herb Roasted 1/2 Chicken, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Sauteéd Spinach, Lemon-Caper-Olive Brodo
Ravioli: Pesto & Ricotta Stuffed Ravioli, Summer Squash, Hericot Verts, Roasted Red Bell Pepper, Caramelized Onion, Light Lemon Cream Sauce, Fresh Arugula, Shaved Parmesan
Cut of the Day: 24oz House Cut Porterhouse, Salt Water Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus, Balsamic Reduction, Grilled Lemon
Pan Seared Fish: Barramundi, Whipped Garlic Potatoes, Sauteéd Arugula, Grilled Italian Artichokes, Lemon-Caper Beurre Blanc.
Weekend Brunch: 11:00 - 3:00
New menu for drinks and food. Click here.
M’TUCCI’S AROUND TOWN
Our market items can be purchased at a couple of locations in Albuquerque. We deliver our fresh bread every Tuesday and Friday to Silver Street Market at 2nd and Silver. Choose from Sourdough, Fennel Rye, Wheat, Baguette, Ciabatta, and Raisin Rosemary Focaccia.
Drinking at Bosque in Nob Hill? You can order a M’tucci’s Charcuterie Board while there.
SERVICE INDUSTRY NIGHT & DISCOUNTS
Area service industry workers can get a Service Industry card from us by showing proof of employment. With the card you receive 10% off your check every day and 20% off on Sundays from 6:00 - 9:00. Dine in only.
Our food is available for delivery with Door Dash or for pick up. Pick up something for the weekend or on your way home from work. The links to ordering are on the Home page.
MTUCCI’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL
Videos about making cocktails and pasta and getting to know the M’tucci’s culture. Click here
See you next Friday - Ciao!