Visiting Franco Pepe at Pepe in Grani

May 10, 2024  •  Caiazzo, Europe, Italy, Travel

Have you seen the Netflix series “Chef’s Table: Pizza”? There is a 2022 episode featuring Franco Pepe, in Caiazzo, Italy, a tiny hill town about 30 minutes north of Napoli. As the show advertises, Franco Pepe left a family pizza dynasty for a solo venture. Innovative pies, handmade dough and local ingredients have made him a star all his own.My daughter (a trained chef who has worked in Michelin starred restaurants) sent me a text while I was planning our adventures in Italy to get my dual citizenship (read all about that here), telling me I must visit this spot, not only because of Franco’s reputation, but because he happens to look an awful lot like my partner David. Indeed, they could be brothers, and Franco was tickled with both our visit and this similarity!We arrived in Caiazzo in the late afternoon, in time for an Aperol spritz in the tiny piazza (at a spot that just happens to be very near Franco’s late father’s pizzeria) before snooping around the restaurant. We watched some of the staff fire up the pizza oven for dinner service……while the others hung out lazily checking their cell phones.I didn’t want to just eat pizza here, I wanted the full experience, so we booked one of the two rooms for rent above the restaurant, in the space that was originally Franco’s home.Our room afforded incredible views of the sunset over the bucolic valley below.This was one of the highlights, from a culinary standpoint, of our nine weeks in Italy, so we planned ahead. We dressed up for dinner and made sure to arrive early – just in time to sneak in a shot of Franco getting ready for dinner service behind us.We opted for the 9 course pizza tasting menu, which started with two appetizer pizzas, a fried pizza with lemon, anchovy, parsley and chile……and a pizza cone filled with grana padano fondue and dehydrated olives. O.M.G. !!!From the appetizers, we moved into the actual pizzas, starting with the famous one, La Marhgherita Sbagliata. Franco came up with the brilliant idea that the topping ingredients in this classic pizza shouldn’t all be cooked at the same time, so he cooks the base pizza with the cheese, then adds a reduction of tomato and a splash of basil pesto. It tastes like the classic, but 100 times better. We originally split the small pizzas between us, but as the courses kept coming we could only manage to eat 1/4 of the pizza each! I’m listing the basic of each below.Grana padano fondue with smoked tomatoes and grana on topEVOO, tomato paste, mozzarella di buffalo, oreganoGrano padano fondue, walnuts, bresaolaCreamed onions, tuna, celery strings, and cheese (sounds weird, tasted great!)Dolce Pizza – with apricot marmalade, cheese, and dried black olivesI was ready to die by the time the second dessert pizza arrived, but the fried pizza dough dusted with sugar, then drizzled with honey, orange zest and rosemary with a sweet ricotta dipping sauce was so incredible that we ate every last bite!We got up in time to share our delight about the dinner with Franco, who wanted to know if we had gotten enough food the night before. Enough?! We were still full that morning, and left Caiazzo with our hearts full too.

Pepe in Grani
Vico S. Giovanni Battista, 3
81013 Caiazzo(CE) Italia
Phone +39 0823 862718
Rooms for Rent
About Franco

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