Pizza in Casa
January 30, 2013 by orvietoorbust
Just a few kilometers outside the center of Orvieto there’s an area known as Localita’ Ponte del Sole. Drive slowly on the winding road and be careful not to blink or you might miss it: A small hand painted sign with the words “Risto-Pizzeria da Zia Graziella” nailed to a tree. The arrow points you down a white road that leads to a clearing…you’ve arrived at Zia Graziella’s place.
At first it might seem a bit unorthodox to find a pizzeria operating out of a private farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. However, when you consider that Italy is a country where food is one of its greatest sources of pride and cuisine part of its national identity, a speakeasy-style establishment thriving on a word-of-mouth reputation makes perfect sense.
Chef Zia Graziella has been creating pasta dough for over thirty-five years – first as the proprietor of a fresh, homemade pasta shop in the historical center and now as a highly regarded, wood-fired pizza cook. What makes her famous dough so extraordinary is that each batch is produced from an eighty-year old “mother” starter that she rolls out to a paper-thin consistency. Her recipe uses no oil and toppings are made with only the freshest ingredients picked from her garden or gathered from local area farms.
The price for a pizza dinner is fixed but the menu is fluid and dictated by the growing season. The meal includes antipasti, three or four different kinds of pizzas, dessert, wine, and coffee. Tonight, for example, we dined on Pizza Margherita (fresh tomato and mozzarella), Pizza with Fennel, Potato and Spicy Salami, and finally, Eggplant, Mozzarella and Tomato pizza.
The pizza flows like the nearby Tiber and can be stopped by leaving at least one slice on the platter – a signal to the kitchen that you’ve finished with the main course and are ready for dessert: a Pizza Nutella. I think it was somewhere between the coffee service and the pouring of Limoncello that I slipped into a Graziella-induced coma.
Honestly, I’d love to tell you that this amazing, one-of-a-kind restaurant is the best-kept secret in Umbria, but I’d be lying. Everyone knows the charming and talented Graziella: Martin Scorsese claims her gnocchi is the best he’s ever eaten and Richard Gere has her on speed dial. Not a VIP? Don’t worry – when you eat at Risto-Pizzeria da Zia Graziella, you’re more than just a celebrity, you’re family.
Risto-Pizzeria da Zia Graziella, Localita’ Ponte Del Sole, 38, Orvieto, Italy 05018, +39 389 792 5102