Yesterday was a culinary delight! We were treated to a unique experience via an invitation to a “Pizza Tasting” at Paulie and Mary Ann Giannone’s house in Warren NJ. Paulie G, as he is known by friends and fans alike, is famous for his pizza, which he cooks in his beautifully pained and decorated outdoor handmade pizza oven, named Napoli. Paulie only uses white birch wood that has to be kiln-dried for this special wood-burning oven.
As we were seated at the beautifully set table drinking Paulie’s homemade Limoncello and sipping Chilean wine, I noticed that there was a detailed printed menu of the pizzas that we would be eating, some of which were “Margherita with Speck, Pecorino Romano and Sliced Red Onion - Bianco with Chopped Fresh Garlic, Pecorino Romano and Basil –Margherita with Sopressata Picante and Parmigiano Reggiano.” There were ten pies in all and my mouth was watering!
Looking around, I noticed that the table was set precisely, and asked Paulie about it. Paulie told me that when he hosts a pizza tasting, there can only be 8 people. At the table the place mats must be perfectly aligned and the white chairs have to be at the front of the table and the dark chairs at the rear. Also, the blue glasses must be with the white chairs, and he needs clear glasses to be with the dark chairs. This sounded a lot like OCD to me so I asked him if he had any more “rituals”. He told me that when serving his famous Limoncello, (I did hear that Jay Z has had some) he must pour the first shot into a particular glass with raised letters, then next 4 guests must have plain glasses, then the raised glass again. Paulie believes that if these things aren’t done, his pizza tasting will not go as well as it could be. He said people notice these things subconsciously. He told me that when he serves his first pie, it must be in his “Pucenella”(which is a theater comedy/drama figure) plate, and his 2nd pie must be on another special plate. These plates were gifts from Adam from Slice, (an online pizza magazine) and Andrew from Scott Pizza Tours, people prominent in the pizza industry, who were at Paulies house for a pizza tasting. Here is the great article about Paulie and Mary Ann from Slice…
For the record, I do not think that Paulie has OCD. He just does a bit of “ordering” when it comes to his pizzas. I have noticed that when people feel passion for something, it can trigger a touch of OCD behaviors. In this case it’s worth it. Every pie was a work of art, lovingly made and out of this world delicious! Thank you Paulie, Mary Ann, and their son Derek, for a fantastic experience!