Tutta Bella gets an All-Star VPN Certification

| No Comments

Certification 486.JPG

Joe Fugere, owner of the Tutta Bella chain of pizzerias, was like a kid in a candy store. He had just returned from a week at Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, the world's largest pizza trade show, accompanied by his heroes: the three top officers of the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana. The VPN is devoted to a theological orthodoxy of pizza, with strict rules to qualify: the type of flour used; the varieties of tomato and cheese; approved wood-fired ovens (each Tutta Bella store has two ovens, shipped from Italy, weighing 7,000 pounds apiece); minutely detailed standards for the elasticity of the dough' for the number and dimensions of burnt bubbles of crust, and so on. Over the course of its 30-year existence, it has certified fewer than 500 authentic Neapolitan pizzerias worldwide.

Margherita.JPGThe first VPN certification in the Northwest was awarded to Tutta Bella's original store in Columbia City ten years ago. Every subsequent store has followed suit, but never with such an impressive delegation of dignitaries: Antonio Pace, the VPN founder and president (whose family has been in the pizza business in Naples since the 1850s); Massimo di Porzio, the vice president; and Peppe Miele, VP for North America.

Key suppliers were on hand as well: Antimo Caputo, ceo of the flour conglomerate that bears his family name; Constantino Cutolo, whose cooperative supplies the chain's imported tomatoes; and Francesco Lupo, representing the delicate, sweet Italian ham called Prosciutto di Parma.

Eating pizza.JPGOne key question for several dozen invited guests: what's the "official" way of eating an authentic margherita? Do you pick it up with your hands, or use a knife and fork? The "official answer: if the pizza is served uncut, use utensils; if sliced, you're allowed (but not required) to pick it up. On the other hand, pizza is the street food of Naples, where it's often picked up and folded over, not once but twice, in a style called al' libretto, like a book.

As Tutta Bella's executive chef Brian Gojdics and the top chefs from all five stores looked on, Pace presented Fugere with the official document, Attesta 486, certifying the authenticity of the Crossroads kitchen and ovens. "There are only two kinds of pizza," he said solemnly. "VPN and imitation VPN."

For more photos, click here.

Leave a comment


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on March 30, 2014 6:00 PM.

Lunch for Linebackers, Updated was the previous entry in this blog.

"Copper Envy" as Craft Distillers Meet in Seattle is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.