How Pizza Changed Select Italy’s Life (Part III)


Pizza has truly captured Select Italy’s heart, and without a doubt every day we are left drooling for one more taste of pizza from the Bel Paese. Adding to ‘How Pizza Changed Select Italy’s Life Part I and Part II‘, three more members of the Select Italy team were dying to share the moment they fell in love with pizza. But read with caution this blog will leave you itching to catch the next plane to Italia!

Buon Appetito!

Nicole Mayerck

Pizza is Nicole’s one true love!

I have always loved pizza. Actually I am in love with pizza. Ever since I was little my family took on the tradition of “Friday night, pizza night,” and oh boy did I look forward to Friday nights. It didn’t even matter where my parents bought the pizza; if it was shaped in a circle had sauce, cheese, and pepperoni on it, I was in!

So when I had the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy for four months, I obviously could not wait to get my hands on some real authentic Italian pizza. I remember everything about my first Italian pizza experience. It was one of my first nights in Florence and my friends and I wanted to eat at the pizzeria, O’ Vesuvio, where the cast of the Jersey Shore worked while they filmed a season of their television show. A little cliché, I know; but every tourist has to do it, right?

When I sat down and read over the endless pizza-lover’s menu I was in heaven. It took me forever to decide, didn’t know what pizza to choose but I knew I wanted them all. I finally took a leap of faith and ordered the Calabrese, which includes tomatoes, mozzarella, hot salami, black olives, and spicy sausage, basically all my dream ingredients wrapped in one mind-blowing pizza.

My mouth was watering when the waiter placed the pizza in front of me. I quickly cut my first slice and gobbled it down. Let me tell you this wasn’t any ordinary pizza, the gooey, spicy inside and the crispy, doughy crust stole my heart. I thought I was in love with pizza before, but Italy, you win.

And yes, throughout my four months in Florence, I went to O’ Vesuvio about once a week, but who’s counting?

Alaina’s pizza game-face.

Alaina Ambrosio

Hailing from the glorious state of New Jersey (also know as Snooki’s motherland), I thought I knew everything there was to know about pizza. Pete & Elda’s thin crust pizza was my favorite and Naples Pizzeria was a close second. Then, one fine day, I decided to study abroad in Ferrara, Italy.

The first time I encountered a true pizza italiana, it immediately became clear to me that the pizza of my childhood was truly bland and greasy in comparison.  Surrounded by my future friends on the third day of study abroad, we took a break from touring at a local pizzeria called Da Alice.

It was a family affair, this Da Alice. The owner’s two adorably plump daughters typed imaginary orders into the cash register while their harried mother brought us our pizze. At the same time, her sweaty husband shouted obscenities to the pizzaioli, the pizza makers, in a heavy southern accent. All around the restaurant tables of animated, pizza-stuffed faces radiated back at me. This haphazard, friendly place was exactly how I imagined an Italian pizzeria ought to be.

In fact, I enjoyed the environment so much that it became a party of my almost-daily schedule. Pizza was a weekly date with my Italian amante. Pizza was a, “Let’s get pizza and beer before class so that maybe our group discussions will seem interesting.” Pizza was an opportunity to have heart-to-hearts or just a little chiacchiere. In the end, pizza was what my year in Italy unforgettable.

Maja Gudelj

Maja indulging in her weekly pizza.

Maja indulging in her weekly pizza.

Pizza – the most delicious food man has ever created! The first time I had pizza was probably when I was too young to even remember the experience. My mom always loves to tell the story of how, when I was only 4 years old, I managed to eat an entire pizza by myself. According to my parents, we were at a pizzeria in Rome and the waiter kept on coming back to our table in disbelief that I ate the whole pizza.

In my family, Sundays are pizza days. Since I can remember, on Sundays we would go out to eat for pizza. My favorite is the Roman-style pizza with thin dough and delicious, fresh toppings. In Croatia, the shrimp pizza is very popular and I must say that besides the regular Margherita, it is my favorite as well. It has shrimp, cheese, olive oil, arugula, and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano on top– pure deliciousness. Nowadays when I go home, my family’s favorite pizza place is called Skipper and is located right by the marina in Split. The outdoor terrace has a view of the entire port, the city of Split with the Palace, and the nearby islands. I love watching ferries, yachts, and small sailboats come in and out of the port while we eat our pizza al fresco.

My best pizza memory in Italy was about 10 years ago when my parents and I were going from Ancona to San Remo via Rome. Our car broke down near L’Acquila and since it was a day before Christmas Eve, it was so hard to get our car fixed. We ended up not eating the whole day and me being a teenager at the time – I was getting grumpier with every passing hour. When we finally reached Rome, it was impossible to find accommodation (all hotels were fully booked) so we drove to Civitavecchia where we found a hotel, and at around 10PM, my parents finally started looking for a place to eat. The only place that was open was a pizzeria (I have no clue what the name was) and I ordered a pizza with tuna. Up to this day, I believe that was the tastiest pizza I have ever eaten in my life!

In NYC, I live across the street from Don Antonio by Starita – one of the best Neapolitan pizza places in the city.  On Tuesdays I usually go with my roommates to have their delicious pizza with in-house made mozzarella. My favorite is Margherita Regina with Prosciutto; and to finish it off we usually order Angioletti Nutella with real, Italian-imported Nutella. It seems like wherever I go or live, it is very important to find a good pizzeria where I can indulge in my once-a-week guilty pleasure!

Are you as obsessed with pizza as we are? Check out our Pizzapedia series!

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