Giacomo Baldi is a man with a mission: to improve the quality and flavor of the flour—and hence, the pizza—we consume.
At PN Wood Fired Pizza, diners can choose from eight types of flour used to make the crust, from “the Montana,” organic manitoba mixed with farro and rye, which has a “malty” flavor to “the Kamut,” a hard durum wheat with a buttery flavor and a nutty finish.
By putting more emphasis on the flours than the toppings, Baldi believes that he was able to carve out a unique and healthy niche that offers people the chance to chow down on crust that is healthier, richer in minerals, and lower in carbs. All of the flours are organic, high in fiber, relatively low in carbs and have a low glycemic index. None of them are refined, enriched, bleached or bromated.
It’s clear from the moment you enter the loft-like space, with its fresco-like walls stripped to reveal a history of colors, cement floors, tiling, and rustic wood tables, that this is a unique place. To your right as you enter is the cocktail bar with a full liquor selection, to your left is a retail space offering Molino Grassi flours, naturally sweet tomato pulp from Parma that is used on the classic pizzas, Italian extra virgin olive oil, and 100 percent Arabic coffee from a small producer in Italy. Full-sized bags of flours imported from Italy, are mounted on the wall along with explanations of the qualities and benefits of each variety.
Pizza aside, there’s also the unique spin on traditional Italian appetizers, like the truffle meatballs (it works—it works really, really well) to the The Crostino All Elbana made with mozzarella, anchovies, and prosciutto di parma (again, doesn’t seem like it’ll work, and yet, there you are, inhaling every last bite). Since we’re all obsessed with truffles, every restaurant in the city has bent to meet our need, from Italian to French and even American pub food, hence, PN’s willingness to play ball with the unique, intense flavor. The Crostino All Elbana, on the other hand, is an old recipe from the Elba Island, a small island in front of the Tuscan region.
As far as gluten-free crust goes, Baldi says that while celiac is very real, the team at PN felt that the gluten-free movement has “become more of a trend than a medical concern,” one that they’re not looking to follow.
“We produce flour, and understand gluten’s importance in the mix. Moreover, we would not be able to guarantee our flour to be 100 percent gluten-free, due to cross contamination of non-gluten-free flours being produced in the same facilities. On that note, however, we can technically recommend our pizza for gluten intolerant people, as our 96 hour dough maturation process breaks down the gluten and makes it easier to digest, though still present.”
He added that it is their collective belief that gluten-free pizza is not healthy because it’s full of corn, which has a very high glycemic index.
“I’m just trying to offer a mix of old Italian recipes, and new creations conceptualized using ingredients from different cultures,” Baldi said. “The pizza with shrimps and lemongrass came from the idea of taking ingredients common in different cultures, and combining them to see what happens. It worked out.”
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