Forcella's Giulio Adriani On The Secret to His Deep-Fried Pizza

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Giulio Adriani's Forcella is undeniably hot right now. The big draw? Its ingenious montanara, a pizza that's deep-fried and then baked in the restaurant's 1,000-degree oven. Adriani honed his skills in Napoli, then made a name for himself at the West Village's Olio Pizza e Piu before opening his current pizzeria in Williamsburg. Next on his list: opening a second Forcella on Bowery by the end of this month. The wiry pizzaiolo talks with us about the origins of the montanara, the deal with the new Bowery location, and why you should never eat your pizza with a fork.

First, let's talk about the montanara. Where did it come from?

The montanara was something that was made in every apartment in Napoli. Originally pizza wasn't made in the oven but fried, because in the 1800s and 1900s not everybody had an oven at home. In those days all of the bread was baked in communal ovens in the center of town.

The only way to make a pizza at home was to fry it. Basically, the original montanara was fried and then topped with tomato and Parmesan. In my house, my grandma would prepare the montanara for the whole family. She was making like 20 pizzas and putting them one over the other [in a tower of slices]. Why do this? Because then you'd get pizza covered with ingredients on the top and bottom. So I'm trying to reproduce that in the next restaurant as an appetizer.

The montanara that we serve now has an origin in Napoli, where they would deep-fry the dough and cook it in an electric oven. When you cook it in a wood-fired oven, it dries out a lot of the oil from the fryer, but the taste of the dough is that of fried dough. I try to make my dough so it comes out a little crispier than usual, because otherwise it comes out really chewy.

When do you think Forcella will get its license for wine and beer?

We're going to have it soon, maybe one or two weeks. My primary business is pizza; alcohol, for me, is not a way to make money but a way to help people enjoy their experience more so they'll come back more often. So I'm going to keep the price really low on the alcohol. In Manhattan, there are a lot of places where you have beer and wine and you end up spending $40.

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