How to prepare the best tomato sauce for your pizza

What is the best pizza you have ever eaten? Think about it before you answer and ask yourself what was so special about this pizza?? Next time you are in Rome, be sure to join our Rome Pizza Tour to taste the best pizza in Rome!

Pizza Tomato SauceThe first secret of a good pizza is a good tomato sauce! At the end of the day, it is what really makes a difference. A great dough can be ruined by a careless prepared tomato sauce. So here we go with some useful tips about the best tomato sauce for pizza EVER!

Ingredients (this should be enough for around ⅚ pizzas:

Extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tins of quality plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 tbsp tomato paste
  • dried oregano
  • basil
  • salt

Pizza Tomato SaucePut the oil in a pan together with the garlic. Cook until it becomes a bit golden, be careful not to burn it, it tastes horrible if overcooked. If that happens, you have to throw it away and start all over again! Add the tinned tomatoes and cook until almost dry, then add the tomato paste, some basil leaves, salt and oregano. If necessary, you can add also some spoons of water if you are not happy with the thickness of the sauce. Once ready, let it cool before spreading it on your pizza.

Now the most important question: when is the right time to add the tomato sauce to your pizza? Answer is: before baking the pizza! Only things that are allowed to be added once the pizza is baked are: prosciutto, rucola salad or other fresh ingredients. Another tip for your best pizza: please do not over “cheese” it! Taste your result! If you are not satisfied, come to Rome and taste the best pizza!

Best Restaurants in Brera – Milan

Brera, MilanIf Milan is the city from the many faces, Brera is the artistic one. In fact, this quite central neighborhood is dotted by small artisan’s workshops, art shops, antique shops and is surrounded by a vibrant atmosphere. Brera is also  home to the Accademia di Belle Arti (Fine Art Academy) and the Pinacoteca (Milan’s Art Gallery), the historic Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense, the Museo Astronomico and the Giardino Botanico (Botanical Gardens). Day and night, Brera is one of the most lively neighborhood of the city, with many interesting places to dine or have lunch. The district is particularly bustling during the Fuori Salone, one of the most important events in town: do not miss it! Our Milan Food Tours are great opportunities to have a taste of Brera’s energy and have an idea of the best restaurants you can visit in Brera!

If you do pass by on your own, here are some suggestions on where to stop!

L’orto di Brera

Best Restaurants in Brera

Via S. Carpoforo, 6, 20121 Milano
The great place for healthy people! At first glance, it looks a grocery shop, but if you are curious enough to enter you’ll find a cozy and modern restaurant inside! The cuisine is all veggie based! But vegetarian food doesn’t mean boring! There will be plenty of surprising taste for everyone! Try the lasagne and the burrata! You can also take-away, which is rare in Italy if not in fast foods. At lunchtime there are interesting fixed price options.

Parma & Co

Best restaurants in brera

Via D. Tessa, 2 angolo Corso Garibaldi, 20121 Milano
This is the right place to taste authentic and original dishes from one of the best culinary traditions in Italy, Parmigiana’s one! Everything is so simple and yet so tasty…definitely a must! Founded by the Carmignani Father and Son, “it was born to offer in a special context, or perhaps just in an appropriate one, the best products of the Parma tradition” as they say. Parma&Co is also a typical Parma delicatessen shop, where it is possible to buy the products and taste them at home, or you can take a rest and eat them in the pleasant dining room surrounded by hung hams!

Vianson – La Focaccia al Formaggio

Best Restaurants in Brera

Via Mercato, 3, 20121 Milano
The best place in town to have quick lunch to or an early dinner (the place closes at 8 pm, apart from Tuesday and Saturday, when it closes at 10:30 pm). It is something like a pizzeria, where you can have many choices of “focaccia” (pizza-dough without cheese and stuffed with salami, cheese or vegetables). Giorgio Vianson, the owner, is from Liguria, which is the homeland of focaccia. After working many years in the States, he decided to come back to open his own brand, at it was indeed a successful idea: many come from all over the city because it is basically the best focaccia ever!

Ristorante Emilia e Carlo

Best restaurants in brera

Via Guiseppe Sacchi 8, Milan, Italy, +39 02 862100
Ristorante Emilia e Carlo is what you want to choose if you are looking for a place with an elegant and formal atmosphere, yet typical Italian. Everything you’ll try here is high quality and the menu rotates on a seasonal basis. Specialties from all around Italy can be tasted here: Tuscan salami with figs, Chianina beef and Cotoletta alla Milanese. Not to mention the great fish dish choices available. Ristorante Emilia e Carlo also features an excellent and rich selection of Italian wines and few but outstanding International ones. Useless to say that prices are definitely the ones of a high-range restaurant.

Pasta al pomodoro: easy pasta recipes for everyone!

Pasta al pomodoro: easy pasta recipes for everyone (but don’t spoil it please)!

pasta al pomodoro

Here is an Italian cooking lesson for real beginners and for all the ones who started off with the wrong foot…I don’t intend to sound harsh but some pasta cookers around the world are really messing it up, so it is always good to refresh the basis.

We’ll propose here one of the easiest pasta recipes ever: pasta al pomodoro! It is also one of the most common dishes you will find in touristic restaurants and sometimes not of the best quality. So don’t be fooled: have a real taste of pasta al pomodoro in Florence, Italy, next time you are around!

 

Before getting started let’s repeat some important rules of pasta cooking:

  1. Pasta has to be added to water only after it has started boiling

  2. Never overcook the pasta!!!! Or if you do, don’t call it pasta.

  3. Italians join pasta and sauce in a pan and “jump it” (saltare) for some minutes before serving (will come back to this later)

 

Ingredients for 4 people

  • Some leaves of fresh basil

  • 1 clove of garlic

  • 1 kg ripe tomatoes, or 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • 480 g dried wholewheat spaghetti ( good quality, if possible)

  • 15 g Parmesan cheese

  • Salt, pepper and a tiny pinch of sugar

Ingredients pasta al pomodoro

Start with peeling and slicing the garlic. Chop the tomatoes if you are using fresh ones. I suggest to choose this option only if you can get good quality organic tomatoes, otherwise just go for the tinned ones. Put a saucepan on a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic, then cook until soft and lightly golden. Add few leaves of basil and the tomatoes and start to stir. Add a bit of salt and pepper and a tiny pinch of sugar, then continue stirring for around 15 minutes. Meanwhile fill a large pot with water and put it on high heat and let it boil. Alternatively, boil some water with the boiler and then fill the pot (which is an option Italians do not even think of, but makes lots of sense). Add some salt to the boiling water and then add spaghetti and cook according to packet instructions or even a minute less: “al dente”. Literally this expression translates as to the tooth and means cooking the pasta just a little bit less than what you are supposed to so that it remains firm. Anyhow, it is always a good idea to try some. No other methods are allowed. Once the pasta is done, drain in a colander over the sink and tip the spaghetti back into the pot. Stir the spaghetti into the sauce, adding a splash of the pasta water to loosen, if needed. Serve with some fresh basil leaves sprinkled over the top and put a bowl of some grated Parmesan cheese on the table , in case some of your guests want to add some.

Easy pasta recipe

As I said, very easy pasta recipe… but very easy to spoil. Try following these instructions one by one and let me know how it tastes! We’ll be glad to invite you for a pasta taste in Florence at the wonderful traditional and yet contemporary Mercato Centrale!

Fried Pizza: because pizza is always pizza!

Fried Pizza

Fried Pizza

How many types of pizzas have you tasted in your life? There are so many extravagant version of this typical Southern-Italian dish that it is sometimes impossible to distinguish original Italian ones. Well, there is always something new to try! You know what we are talking about if you’ve joined one of our Roma Pizza Tour!

One of the specialities of this tour is the fried pizza! Yes, you got it right! As if pizza was not good enough, we decided also to fry it! This recipe is of Neapolitan origins and it is called Montanara recipe, which takes its name from the montanari. I montanari  were the mountain peasants, who apparently used to eat fried bread dressed with tomatoes and cheese.  Just to give you an idea of how easy this recipe is!

So here is what you need to try to do Fried Pizza at home:

Ingredients

  • 800 gr basic pizza dough

  • Mozzarella (better if buffalo one)

  • 1 clove garlic , peeled and finely sliced

  • 400 gr good-quality tinned plum tomatoes

  • oregano

  • fresh basil

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • salt

  • black pepper

  • vegetable oil

It is better to prepare the tomato sauce first, so that once the dough is ready you can just dress it and enjoy your fried pizza while still warm. So, first of all heat a saucepan, pour few spoons of olive oil and add the sliced garlic. Cook gently over low fire. When the garlic turns light golden, add the tomatoes and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, turn the fire off, add some basil and put to one side.

Tomato Sauce for Fried Pizza

Now you’ll just have to fry your pizza base and it is ready! Let’s suppose here that you have already your basic pizza dough ready. Divide it in 12 balls of around 60 gr each and then flatten them to obtain a disk-like shape. Every disk of pizza is going to be fo 8-10 cm of diameter. At this point, heat 2 cm of vegetable oil on a frying pan and fry each pizza for 2 minutes or so on each side. Put the dough balls in the oil only when it is really hot. Remove them with tongs and place them on a tray with some kitchen papers, so that the extra oil is absorbed.

Fried Pizza

Now spread each one of the little pizza with a spoonful of the tomato sauce and tear over some mozzarella and few leaves of basil or dried oregano.

Here you go! Easy, tasty and colorful! Don’t forget to try the original Montanara recipe when you pass by Italy!

 

#LasagnaForEveryone: an easy lasagna recipe

There is something about lasagnas that I really can’t tell. As if it could embody all the flavors and all that makes up Italian identity. Lasagnas  is home…

Now, lasagnas  is almost everywhere in the world, but please, please, please do stay away from bad imitations! That doesn’t mean it has to be complicated! You can prepare lasagnas yourself following this very easy lasagna recipe, without spoiling it with shortcuts.

Lasagna: the best of Italian Food

It won’t be like the one you can have in Italy, but it will get really close to it. Have you tasted the best lasagna in Milan? You will have the chance of trying the real authentic taste of this dish at Pastificio Moscova!

Ingredients

Extra virgin olive oil

1 pound lean ground beef

1 pound pork sausage

1  can tomato Sauce

1  can tomato Paste

1  canned chopped tomatoes

1 glass of red wine

1 celery stalck

1 carrot

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 middle-size onion

1 teaspoon of sugar

Salt and black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained

800 ml of béchamel sauce 

The best way of making lasagna is to cook the ragù sauce a day before. It is just a matter of fact: it tastes so much better the day after. To prepare the ragù heat some extra virgin olive oil in a large pan or a pot (where all of your sauce will fit in the end) and add diced garlic, onion, carrot, parsley and celery. This is the base for most of Italian sauces and the ingredients added are called odori all together. Let them fry for some minutes and then add the ground beef and the sausage over medium heat until browned. That’s where the wine comes in. Over high heat, add a generous glass of red wine until completely absorbed. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, sugar, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now if you have time, the longer your ragù cooks, the better it will taste. So if you have some time, let it cook even for few hours over low heat. You can add water any time you see that it is necessary for the sauce to remain of the right texture: not too dry and not too liquid.

easy lasagna recipe

Once the ragù is ready, let it cool for some minutes (or wait the day after if you can). Preheat the oven at around 180 °/ 356 F. Your lasagnas is almost ready! Start with a layer of lasagna noodles in an ungreased 9 X 13 inch baking dish, then spread the first layer of meat sauce,  few generous spoons of béchamel and parmesan. Repeat layers and top with last 3 noodles and the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining béchamel sauce and cover everything with a nice layer of grated  parmesan. Bake for around 50 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. And here you are!

easy lasagna recipe

 Enjoy and do not add anything on it!!!! It will taste just wonderful the way it is! ;).  An easy lasagna recipe that will help us spreading the right lasagnas taste all around the world!!!! And if you pass by Milan, to join us and taste the best lasagna in Milan!

 

Valentine’s days in Italy

List the first three adjectives that come to your mind when you think of Italians: I am sure “romantic” is going to be one of them. Why? Because Italy is not just the world’s capital of food, but also love!! Italians are great lovers and know how to be romantic! That’s just a fact: Romeo and Giulietta, Dante and Beatrice… it is not a coincidence that even nowadays many choose our country for engagements or marriages in our beautiful cities or villas in the countryside. Now we don’t want to go that far, but what about a romantic week holiday during Valentines days in Italy? 

Padlocks clipped by lovers

Padlocks clipped by lovers

All you need to do is decide one or more destinations for your romantic trip and add some original Valentine’s day surprise on top! First, you have to choose which city better fits your need: a magnificent and chaotic Rome, a small and mysterious Florence, a cosmopolitan and lively Milan? But after all wherever you will be is going to be magical! Just relax and enjoy the great Italian atmosphere!

What do Italians do for Valentine’s day? They go for walks in parks (check out Giardino di Boboli if you are in Florence) or enjoy the sunset in one of the city’s best spots (reach Giardino degli Aranci in Rome) or an Aperitivo in some classy bars (Milan will offer you plenty of good ones). The youngest ones will look for a bridge or a lamppost to tie a chain and a padlock as an indelible trace of their love.

Thinking about a special Valentine’s gift? Go for something original! Here are some Valentine’s day ideas: a day at an Italian SPA, relaxing and enjoying thermal waters, a day-out in one of the many stunning Italian little villages or, least but not last, one of our food tours for two! These can be a great idea to spend some time together and get to know another culture!

Valentine's days in Italy

Valentine’s days in Italy

If you want to act like a local, rent a vespa and bring your lady for a panoramic ride! Don’t forget chocolate and flowers! They are still a must!

Butter and anchovies: easy crostino topping

Having some friends over for dinner on short notice? Don’t panic! The trick is to start with some good and filling appetizers! Surprise your guests with the starters and they’ll enjoy the rest even better! And if you have no time for shopping, we have a perfect idea for you!

All you need is bread, butter and canned anchovies and here you go with a great Italian starter: crostini burro e acciughe! Sometimes the simplest things are the best!

Butter and anchovies crostini topping

If any of you have passed by Italy already, you might have tried it along with our Florence Food Tour, during which you get the chance to taste Italian crostini in Florence.

Now, as you know there are many crostini toppings in our tradition. You might now some of the very standard one: tomato and basil, black olives… Burro e acciughe is something that doesn’t come to your mind easily, but believe me it is a pleasure for your mouth!

As ingredients, we’ll list what it would be better to use, but surely any surrogate will do:

  • Tuscan bread

  • Good quality unsalted butter

  • Good quality anchovies, in oil or salted.

  • Pickles baby capari (if you like)

Butter and anchovies crostini topping

Tuscan bread is the one that best fit this recipe. If you don’t have, just use what bread you have. Cut as many slices as to have at last two crostini per person. Toast the bread and let it cool some minutes. Spread a good layer of butter on the slices and, depending on the size of these slices, lay one or two anchovies on the top. You can add a capari as the final touch on your crostini burro e acciughe. And there you go, you are ready to offer your guests an original and finger-licking Italian starter!

If you do want to taste Italian crostini while in Florence let us know! We’ll make sure you’ll get the best out of your stay!

 

Torta Fedora: the best of Tuscany

Italian culinary tradition is wide and varied: all kinds of pasta sauces, the many versions of lasagne, tasty meat stews, pizzas, and last but not least: the desserts. There are so many of them that there is always something new to taste. One of the less-known ones is Torta Fedora, a real delicatesse of Tuscan cuisine. A soft heart of puff pastry, whipped cream and sponge cake covered up with a crunchy layer of dark chocolate.

Torta Fedora

Torta Fedora

I bet we already made you drool! No despairs though, you’ll get the chance to try this tasty dessert of our cuisine during our food tours in Florence!

And in case you like it, and we bet you will, here is a simple version of this recipe that you can try at home. The only thing that you might struggle to find is the alchermes liqueur, which you can replace with any another kind of gentle and
Alchermes and Maraschino

Alchermes and Maraschino

sweet liqueur. Some versions of this cake is with maraschino, a liqueur obtained from the distillation of Marasca cherries.

Here is what you will need:

1 roll of puff pastry

1 disk of sponge cake

550 gr whipped cream

Icing sugar as required

Few spoons of milk

For the chocolate crust:

150 gr: dark chocolate

1 spoon of water

2 spoons of honey

Icing sugar as required

For the bagna (to soak the sponge cake):

65 g of water

35 g of sugar

50 ml of alchermes liquor

It would be better to prepare the sponge cake the day before or – don’t tell anyone we suggested you-  you can buy already-made one. First thing, you’ll need to bake the puff pastry. Before doing that make sure you poke few holes on it using a fork, gently brush it with some milk and sprinkle it with some icing sugar. Bake at 180° until golden brown.

While you wait for the puff pastry to bake, prepare the bagna, with which we will soak the sponge cake. Pour the water together with sugar in a small pot. Once it boils, you can leave it cooling a bit and then add the alchermes liqueur.

At this point, take the puff pastry out of the oven, cut it the same size of the sponge cake and lay the sponge cake on it. Pour the bagna all over the sponge cake and now our base is ready to be topped with a thick layer of whipped cream. Let now rest the cake in the fridge for at least few hours.

Cioccolato a pezzi

Let’s now prepare the chocolate topping. Cut the chocolate in pieces, put it together with 2 spoons of honey and a spoon of water in a small pot and let it melt in a bain-marie. Let it cool, sprinkle some icing sugar on a clean surface where you can pour the chocolate. Add icing sugar until it gets thick enough to make a ball out of it. Let it rest a bit until it becomes a malleable dough of chocolate.

At this point, place it on a long piece of baking paper and roll it out using a rolling pin. Now it is all up to you: decorate your Torta Fedora as you wish with the “chocolate papers” you made! You can also add some icing sugar if you want it to look nicer!

Torta Fedora

Well, if Torta Fedora doesn’t sound easy to make, we can assure it tastes good! Don’t miss our food tours in Florence next time you are around, during which you’ll have the occasion to ask more tips for this recipe to the local “artisans” of desserts!

Mozzarella di bufala: the real taste of mozzarella

mozzarella di bufala

Mozzarella di Bufala

Apologies if what we are about to say might sound harsh to you, but we have to reveal you a cruel reality: whatever you think of mozzarella, you have no idea of what a real mozzarella is like until you try a mozzarella di bufala. Imagine the taste of the soft clouds of heaven… well that taste will sure resemble the one of mozzarella di bufala: juicy, creamy and slightly sour, a mix that drives all Italians crazy.

This kind of mozzarella is usually bigger and the texture is indeed very different from a normal mozzarella, which usually is addressed as fior di latte. Whenever in a pizzeria, you’ll know it is a good one if it has at least a margherita with mozzarella di bufala on the menu.  That is why it can’t be missing in our pizza tour in Rome! Anyhow, the best way of enjoying this kind of cheese is to eat it alone, as a separate dish. Useless it is to add oil, salt, oregano or any other kind of sauce. It has already such a peculiar taste that it will enough to carry you away.

Italian water buffalo

If you wander what the difference is with a normal mozzarella, that is an easy question to answer: mozzarella di bufala is produced with the milk of domestic  Italian water buffalo.

This milk is higher in calcium, protein and lower in cholesterol than cow’s milk. Not only, Mozzarella di bufala is manufactured under strict regulations in precise areas: in in Lazio, Campania and near Foggia in Apulia. Mozzarella di Bufala produced in Campania region bears the “Mozzarella di Bufala Campana” trademark and DOC status granted in 1993. In 2008, the European Union granted Mozzarella di Bufala Campana a Protected Geographical Status. You’ll probably find mozzarella di bufala produced elsewhere and we strongly advise you to stay away from imitations. Instead, you could consider a trip to Italy to enjoy the beautiful experience of a the real pizza with a real mozzarella! Check out our pizza tours!

Last but not least: mozzarella di bufala shouldn’t be kept in the fridge, but at room temperature on “its own water”, which means in the water were it was when you bought it! If kept in the fridge, it should rest at least 20 minutes outside before being served!