Tools of the Trade is a series in which we ask chefs, bartenders and other food folks which tools they simply can't live without. Today we talk to Massimiliano Di Lascio, Master Pizzaiolo at the new DeSano pizzeria in East Hollywood.
Salerno, Italy native Massimiliano Di Lascio has dedicated his life to pizza. From Salerno to Singapore to Toronto, Di Lascio has been turning out Neapolitan-style pizzas from wood-burning ovens for the last 25 years. Now he's landed in East Hollywood, at the new DeSano Pizzeria Bakery, an outpost of a chain with locations in Nashville, TN, and Charleston, SC. At DeSano, Di Lascio oversees the restaurant's four ovens, each of which burns at up to 1000-degrees. We wondered what tools are required for a master pizzaiolo and Di Lasco was kind enough to let us know.
"Dough is a living entity, and it takes patience to nurture it from the raw ingredients to the mixer bowl, to the dough room where it rests, to the oven, and finally to the customer's table. You can't rush dough - just like you can't force a plant to grow."
4. Pizza Peel
"The only time I'm not using my hands is when I use a pizza peel to transfer the pizza to and from the oven. It's an awkward tool to obtain the desired outcome. It's a pizzaiolo's version of a scalpel because it requires precision."
3. Handmade Ovens from Naples
"Our four ovens are imported from Italy and each weigh 6,000 lbs. We bake our pizzas at a temperature as high as 1000 degrees, so the cooking time is between 75 and 90 seconds. Baking at this temperature makes that charring on the edges and bottom that is so familiar with Neapolitan pizzas."
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2. Ingredients from Italy
"Pizza is very simple, so you have to use the best ingredients. At DeSano, we import OO flour, San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella from Italy. OO flour means it is more finely ground than regular flour and it has less gluten. That's how you get that ideal elasticity in the dough. Using high-quality ingredients is the difference between mediocre pizza and great pizza."
1. My hands
"As a pizzaiolo, my hands are my most prized possession. After making pizza for 25 years, starting in my native Salerno, I know just by touching the dough when it's right. I use my hands to shape and stretch it so the crust comes out perfect each time - slightly chewy and blistered from the oven."