Today we get to know master pizzaiolo Antonino Esposito a bit better. To me, he is a myth, he makes one fantastic and incredibly good gluten free pizza and I love pizza! I was so exited to interview him that I forgot to book the gluten free pizza for the evening (!). That is me, I know… Anyway I had already tasted it many times before and was happy to try some delicious gluten free fresh ravioli instead. But next time I go, it will be gluten free pizza for me too 😉
Chiara: Why gluten free?
Antonino Esposito: For passion. I started making gluten free pizza because celiac children started to ask me about it. I remember when I started, it was 10 years ago and the only gluten free pizzas you could find were not great in taste. The first time I tried to make a gluten free pizza, it was really hard. But I am passionate about the pizza and I continued to try and to experiment. I remember the face of one child in particular: how happy she was when she ate my pizza and her mother as well. Back then the oven to make gluten free pizzas was placed in an open-air space, outside the restaurant. During winter I was outside baking gluten free pizza, despite the freezing temperatures. At first I made just three gluten free pizzas a day but the joy to make those children and parents happy was priceless to me. Everything I did in my life I did it for passion. Later on people started coming from all over the region to eat my gluten free pizza.
It is also a challenge. In the kitchen you have to be a little bit like a peacock: you have to start imagining the result, seeing it, feeling it. I am never happy about the result because I always want to make it better. When I look at something in general, I am always focused on what I would like to improve and how.
Chiara: What is Acqu’e Sale?
Antonino Esposito: When I decided to open this second venue restaurant I was often asked by people, why?
I have made all my dreams come true: I run a company, I wrote books, I have a tv show, I designed an oven, so why still making pizza? But the truth is that I can’t stay away from it! I can wake up in the morning and being inspired about how I would love to make a pizza, how I see it, how I can improve it. In the end, this is how I got started – from the pizza – this is how I wrote my own story and I still am.
Chiara: What is the gluten free food that you loved the most?
Antonino Esposito: I was in Chicago for a fair and I ate delicious canestrelli-like biscuits, they were so good that I couldn’t imagine they were gluten free. I also enjoyed one pizza there, very different from mine, it was crunchy like a biscuit but tasted good. Today I love eating gluten free pasta once a week. It makes me feel lighter. In 10 years gluten free foods have really improved.
Chiara: Gluten free is …
Antonino Esposito: As I said, making pizza for me means passion. One day a journalist who was interviewing me said that to me it was more than passion, it was my soul. The gluten free pizza that I make has no gums or tapioca in the dough and I use my own mix. I work with a mill where I can experiment. The ingredients that I put on top are the best quality I can find and they are sourced locally: I use fresh Fior di Latte cheese from Sorrento, the tomatoes called “del Piennolo” and they are from the Vesuvio, we have a fantastic selection of extra virgin olive oils and so much more.
Chiara: What is your next challenge?
Antonino Esposito: Today I am working at making easier to stretch out the pizza. We will hit this objective soon.
To read my older posts on Antonino Esposito’s art of making gluten free pizza: