Wood fired ovens and Italian delights

Saturday, 2 March 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By David Ebert

Humanity has been adding toppings to flat bread throughout the ages. Who wouldn’t? After all, as a wise man said in the Bible: “Man cannot live on bread alone,” so I guess let’s add some herbs, a little bit of olive oil and tomato base, your choice of cheese, a meat or vegetable topping of your choice, chuck it in a wood fired oven for a bit, serve it with some fresh basil on the side and voila! You’ve got yourself an authentic Italian pizza.

You think so? I beg to differ somehow because it’s just not that simple. A true authentic pizza takes some making. You’ll need a little bit of passion, some exposure to Italian culture for good measure and a need to share that Mediterranean experience in every bite of the pizza that someone tucks into. Caffe Michaelangelo has all those bits and a bit more.

There is a marked difference in flavour between pizzas made in an electric oven and those made in a traditional wood oven. The one thing though that got me hooked on the latter is the subtle smokiness in flavour that somehow you just won’t get right if you use an electric oven.

Speaking to Managing Director Dallas Martenstyn gave me the impression that I was talking to someone for whom making a pizza is simply not just about making a pizza – it’s about authenticity and uniqueness and most importantly, wholesomeness. In addition, taking over an existing restaurant and trying to give it your own touch is a difficult task but his efforts so far have been quite impressive to say the least, as in my own humble opinion, I would say my experience with Michaelangelo pizzas have been extremely satisfying. So what is the secret to making a good wood fired pizza?

“Well, I took over the company two years ago from the previous owner because I’ve always wanted to start a wood fired pizza restaurant that serves them just like they have been made in Italy throughout time. I had to introduce a lot of changes in not only the operational aspects of the restaurant but most importantly in how the pizzas are made.”

“This includes only the freshest and healthiest ingredients such as our cheese, which is locally made from buffalo milk, a secret sauce recipe made from the freshest tomatoes and created after much experimentation to hone it down to perfection, and the premium flour made especially for us with which we make the pizza dough. But it doesn’t stop there. The finishing touch actually comes down to the wood fired oven and the type of wood used, which I must say is an even bigger secret than the sauce recipe.”

Healthy fast food may be a bit of a myth in today’s world but then again in only takes one person with a clear plan to be the exception to the rule and Caffe Michaelangelo does just that, with a strict emphasis on creating the healthier option for anyone looking to order in.

 “I want my pizzas to be wholesome and healthy because these days, fast food is exactly the opposite of that and I want to people to know that here is a dining option that meets them at the halfway point, where we’ve already thought of the health aspects of what we serve and parents do appreciate that. So it’s something I can’t see myself compromising on.”

With a choice of 18 pizzas to choose from as well as a host of Italian favourites such as lasagne, sphagetti, fettucine, risotto and ravioli, Caffe Michaelangelo is an Italian food fan’s dream.

Martenstyn also has plans of opening more outlets in Colombo and Kandy, with a bigger emphasis on take-out rather than dine-in as the demand: “Just keeps growing and will continue because there are a lot of like-minded people out there who appreciate authenticity and everything our pizzas deliver on,” he stated.

Caffe Michaelangelo’s menu can be checked out on its Facebook page, along with information about its permanently ongoing ‘happy hour’ deals as well as the special voucher promotions that gives you a 20% discount voucher on your next pizza order.