“What sets me apart,” she says, “is that how you see me here at the restaurant is how you see me at home. La mia sincerità è di non apparire [Who I am at my core is someone who does not stand out].” I shift focus from my notes to her friendly countenance – young, 23 years old, unassuming – and then to the wall of the restaurant of which she is the owner, Don Antonio by Starita in Atlanta, where a framed certificate reads Best Pizza Maker in the World next to various other rave reviews from every foodie publication in Atlanta. My eyes return to Giorgia, one eyebrow skeptically raised. Shy? Maybe. Doesn’t stand out? Not a chance.
When you think about it, it’s kind of funny that a woman making pizza (and doing it well) is a phenomenon. Historically speaking, women were the original pizza makers in Naples; the women were those laboring over and selling the famed pizze fritte, or fried pizzas, on the street.
Sophia Loren, playing a woman pizza maker in Naples in L’Oro di Napoli
Just ask Sophia Loren, whose character in L’Oro di Napoli in the above scene has the task of forming the pies as a pizza maker street vendor strategically placed in front of a storefront. This carefully chosen storefront, in fact, attracts just as much attention as the stunning actress in front of it: Sophia Loren was making pizzas in front of Starita, one of the most famous and arguably the best pizzeria in all of Naples, the pizza capital of the world.
How fitting it is, then, that the best female pizza maker in the world comes directly from the Starita line. Giorgia Caporuscio, aka 2013 Classic Pizza-Making World Champion, is the daughter of Roberto Caporuscio, president of the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaioli in the United States and former apprentice of Don Antonio, Starita’s renowned pizzaiolo.
After coming to the States in 2009, Giorgia worked alongside her father, eventually opening their New York restaurant Kesté and head pizza maker at Don Antonio by Starita. It was in her father’s pizzeria that Giorgia, one of the only women on a male-dominated staff, attempted to make a pizza as a result of a joke and ended up falling in love with the heavenly pie. She returned shortly to Naples to study with her father’s mentor, Don Antonio, and became a force to be reckoned with on either side of the pond.
Being a woman pizza maker in a masculine pizza world is something that Giorgia counts among her blessing. “You might say that women are more natural pizza makers than men,” she proclaims. “Our hands are smaller, more delicate, and can better carefully handle the airy dough. It’s a wonderful thing, to be who I am in this world. I have learned from the best, and in some ways are like them – I am Italian, I am passionate, obsessed with quality. But in other ways, I am uniquely myself. It’s important that as I go forward I continue to keep an open mind and always seek to get bigger and better.”
That’s exactly what she did in 2014, a year in which she and her father opened another Don Antonio in Atlanta (“I chose here because it’s the most obvious choice,” she says, “Georgia-Giorgia!”), where she serves as the head pizzaiola. Here, she runs the show, spending almost all of her time in the restaurant and biking around town in her few spare minutes.
While visiting my hometown of Atlanta, I paid a visit to Giorgia in her element, where she showed me how to make the real Neapolitan pie.
Giorgia Caporuscio makes pizza in Atlanta
Carrying on her father’s passion and tradition for local and quality products, Don Antonio by Starita in Atlanta also makes its own mozzarella in-house. Giorgia also hosts pizza-making classes for men, women, and children and runs the pizzeria’s catering business.
And this dynamic woman pizza maker has no plans of stopping anytime soon. When I asked her what 2015 has in store for her (another world championship title, perhaps?), Giorgia shrugs, slyly smiles, and says “Let’s just say I’ve barely even gotten started.”
Giorgia gave us her pizza making tips in her video – share with us yours!