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There's always a sense behind things, in the pensive universe of Simone Padoan. He's not one to lose hold of the reigns: he knows what he wants, he's straight and rugged, determined, aware even of limits or of the lack of such, depending on the situation.
Paolo Marchi asks him, during Identità on the road's episode at I Tigli in San Bonifacio (Verona): «You even put a pigeon on top of your pizzas, which by the way was one of the best I ever had. But is there any ingredient that doesn't work as topping? One that doesn't satisfy you, or that is technically ineffective?».
The pizzaiolo replies: «Limits are only in our mind. Of course, you can't put soup on pizza. But this is only partly true. You just need to change the texture. And indeed we make Come una zuppa di mare [corn focaccia with sunflower seeds, buffalo milk ricotta, seaweeds with black cabbage, mussels, clams and smooth clams]. If then a new idea doesn't work after the first tests, I leave it be, take my mountain bike and pedal for some 10 km. On the way, I think it over and over. And then I try it again. That's how I got the best ideas».
Effort is a necessary ingredient when working – it's almost functional, and therefore sought -, an approach close to Calvinism. Marchi takes Padoan back to his early days: the youngest of nine children, a humble family of farmers. There, unexpectedly, one can find the birth of the spirit behind his contemporary pizza.
Simone says: «I've always loved food, I think of dining at home, when I was a child, and we were at least 14 or 15. It was a moment of brotherhood after working or studying hard, a moment of sharing. I wanted to bring this atmosphere of sharing in my pizzeria too, at a time when pizza was considered instead almost like fast food, something to eat quickly, without paying attention to the food or the people with whom you were eating. That's when I decided to “slow down” or rather to "have others slow down": eight slices to taste together. The pizzas arrive one after the other. I wanted to give importance to the exchange, to tasting slowly, to creating a journey. This way, you give yourself the gift of time. Eating pizza is once again about spending time with friends or relatives».
On top of this, cutting pizza in slices has a "technical" motivation too: «This way the steam in excess comes out from the sides, and the pastry stays crispy».
Padoan started to knead at six. «So many memories: when I was a child, it was a game. Now I try to make sure it stays so. I want it to be fun, or else it gets boring. Instead, it must give joy».
The beginning of the change – and thus the birth of contemporary pizza – is to be placed between 1999 and 2000 (and here is the complete story: The 20 years that changed pizza), «I was already resenting the limits, and keeping a distance from the traditional imagery of pizza. I was seeking something more adequate. I didn't want to do anything special, just to apply a sense of aesthetics to what I was offering. I wanted something beautiful and good as a consequence. My family was the first to believe in me and this project»...