Just a few miles outside of Verona is a delightful pizzeria run by an enthusiastic and experimental young cook who delights in treating diners to his own distinctive brand of delicious pizzas. The secret is a home made dough with a difference and the result is a delight.
Simone Padoan doesn’t consider himself a chef. Instead, he prefers the term Pizzaiolo and, although his restaurant bears little resemblance to other pizzerias, it’s a title of which he’s justifiably proud.
It could be argued that Padoan has reinvented the art of pizza making. “I don’t think that every pizza should be made in the same way that I make them“, he says modestly. “It’s just that I’ve found a way of baking pizza that works for me and that enables me to try and create delicious things.”
It’s all in the leavening
The key to Padoan’s pizzas is the leavening. When Pizzeria I Tigli opened in 1996, Padoan was still using yeast for his dough. A few years down the line and Padoan was seeing huge pizzerias, seating between 300 and 500 guests, opening across the region. “It was at this point that I realized I had to try something new,” he explains. “I felt as though I had reached something of a dead end.” The young Chef’s response was to embark on an obsessive quest to explore new ways of leavening his pizza. “At lunchtime I was learning to cook in a friend’s restaurant and come the evening I would be experimenting in my pizzeria and then by night in a local bakery. This went on for over a year.”
By 2003, Padoan had perfected the leavening agent for his pizzas. The result was a natural sourdough made from flour, water and yogurt. “Each day around midnight the new pizza dough is set and left to ferment for approximately 18 hours.“
Imagination and a lightness of touch
Padoan’s sourdough makes for a delicious, slightly sour, extraordinarily light and easily digestible base. “That’s the whole secret. You have to strike the right balance between the personality of the sourdough and the character of the flour. It’s not easy but good pizza is reliant upon a good base," explains Padoan.
And it’s from this solid base that the Chef – sorry, the Pizzaiolo – allows his imagination to come to the fore. Padoan uses only the first-class raw materials and ingredients that you would expect from a gourmet restaurant in order to transform his pizzas into exceptional and refined dishes.
I Tigli is perfect for a group night out. The Pizzas are divided into eighths, enabling guests to work their way through a tasting menu and sample as many of the ‘furnace juggler’s’ imaginative creations as possible in an affordable way. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you ordering a whole pizza if there is a particular option that may have caught your eye. The pigeon breast, artichoke heart and Campari emulsion offers an intense taste experience and a roasted porcini option is just delicious. The air-dried San Daniele ham and Burrata (similar to Mozzarella cheese) is a classic and if you’re looking for a Mediterranean twist then the grilled tuna and red onion is a must. If you like a cold beer or two with your pizza then I Tigli offers a good selection of traditionally brewed options, but the extensive, well thought-out and very reasonably priced, wine-list is also worth a look with a beautiful selection of Italian and French wines, including some organic options starting at 1.60€ per glass. Bon appetit!
Pizzeria I Tigli
Via Camporosolo, 11 San Bonifacio (Verona)
Tel.: +39,045,610 26 06
Open evenings only. Closed on Wednesday.
à la carte pizza options from 8€ to 25 €.