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Portable Pizzeria

Perth couple making pizza in mobile brick oven

May 9, 2010
By RICHARD NILSEN, For The Leader-Herald

PERTH - Orapello's Wood Fired Pizza is fast (90 seconds), hot (800 degrees) and here today, somewhere else tomorrow.

Kim Orapello says her husband, Joe's, dream of owning a restaurant may be starting small-with a pizza oven on a trailer - but the quality of an authentic, Neapolitan pizza brings the traditional ingredients together to form "the ultimate pie."

Orapello says the Neapolitan pizza made on their mobile oven shouldn't be confused with New York-style or Chicago-style pizzas. Joe Orapello studied Neapolitan pizza making for many years, experimenting in their home kitchen.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Jim Orapello makes a pizza at Orapello’s Wood Fired Pizza as owner Joe Orapello Jr. looks on at the Adirondack Fun Factory in Amsterdam on May 1.

"Joe's longtime dream was to open a restaurant," Kim said. "With no financial means to take on such a task, he came up with the idea of a mobile wood-fired oven. After some research, he was delighted to find someone who manufactures such a product. He looked into it and jumped with both feet. We both still work full time at our day jobs."

Joe, 48, is a customer service engineer, serving as a contractor at the State Assembly. Kim, 36, works with the state attorney general. They have a 9-year-old daughter, Taylor, and a 21-month-old son, Joey III.

"We got the oven last fall and did a few events in the Capital Region before winter set in," Kim Orapello said. "Our first big event was the Troy Victorian Stroll in December, where our pizza was well received. People not only loved the pizza, but were intrigued at our setup. It's quite a showpiece."

That showpiece represented a $25,000 to $28,000 investment, Joe Orapello said. The oven is from Italy and the trailer that it's mounted on was made by a company in Colorado.

For Saratoga Winery setups, they offer 8-inch cheese pizza for $6, while the specialty pizza is $9. Special events in Albany may run a bit higher. When the Orapellos do not have a special event on the weekends, they can be found making their pizza at the Adirondack Fun Factory on Route 30 in Amsterdam.

"Typically, a 12-inch [pizza] will take 90 seconds at 800 to 900 degrees in this oven," Kim Orapello said. "The reason this can be done is all in the flour and moisture percentages. This is a completely different process than other doughs. The yeast and leavening process is different. Taste-wise, the difference is a light and airy crust with a unique taste as opposed to 'bread-like' crust found with most pizzas."

The Orapellos are careful to use other traditional ingredients.

"Neapolitan pizza standards are derived simply from [finely ground] flour, natural yeast, Sicilian sea salt and spring water," Kim Orapello said. "These standards include toppings with none other than San Marzano tomatoes, the best mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil."

She said Neapolitan pizza is not about one topping, it's about the layers of the flavors that make it unique. The sourdough crust plays off the San Marzano tomatoes, which in turn play off the cheese.

"This process is very difficult to achieve," she said. "Most people are under the assumption that all brick-oven pizza is created equal. Neapolitan is very different and yes, it requires a brick oven, but not all brick-oven pizza places offer Neapolitan pizza."

On Friday evenings, Orapello's Wood Fired Pizza can be found at the Saratoga Winery on Route 29 in Saratoga Springs. It was scheduled to be at the Albany Tulip Festival in Albany today.



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