JEDDAH: To many of us, a pizza may just be a round and flattened base of dough topped with tomatoes, cheese, and other items of our choice. A true pizza lover will, however, scoff at this simple description of the classic Italian savory dish.
Those truly in love with pizza can easily tell you, without taking a bite, whether strict preparation guidelines were followed or not. Some are particular to the extent that they insist on having a pizza prepared according to the Italian standard.
Today, a variety of pizzas are available at various outlets but Italian pizzas especially are very much in demand and the Neapolitan pizza tops the chart. It appears to be so simple, but has some very strict preparation guidelines starting from the dough to the wood-fired oven.
Abdulaziz Salamah, a Saudi pizza chef who founded Pizzeria Dough, is considered a pioneer. He is one of the few pizza chefs who has learned the art of pizza making from Parma, Italy. Salamah is considered a specialist in Neapolitan pizzas and is also the first Saudi to win the world cup prize in a pizza-making competition in 2018.
In a bid to introduce Jeddah residents to the authentic taste of Italian pizzas, Salamah launched his restaurant in late 2019. The most popular items on the menu of his restaurant include the romana and Neapolitan pizzas.
“The smell of fresh burrata cheese, basil, tomato sauce, and the wood-fired oven has always inspired me as a chef,” he told Arab News. “I wanted to transform the real essence of the Italian experience to people in the Kingdom and guarantee the authentic Italian taste.”
Italian pizzas are very different from their US counterparts. They are lighter and made of Italian flour. Italian pizza dough is fermented for 24 hours and is free of oil and sugar, and its toppings contain tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella cheese that is made from natural skimmed milk.
“An Italian pizza always has less cheese but people here are mostly in love with pizzas loaded with cheese. However, I decided to balance this thing at Pizzeria Dough. I also offer classic Italian pizza and other creative customized pizza,” Salamah added.
He has also received training from chef Samah, the main chef at Rossopomodoro restaurant in Jeddah.
“I love the wood-fired oven and the taste of the original napoletana pizza starting from the dough and tomato sauce to buffalo mozzarella cheese. Thanks to chef Samah who taught me a lot of pizza-making skills.”
Salamah has over 15 years of experience in the industry, working as a chef for 10 years with two Jeddah-based restaurants.
Salamah said he believed in exploring new avenues, adding he had overcome many challenging situations in his career with “persistence and determination.”
He said it was necessary to study one’s project keenly, assess the market requirements and equip oneself with the skills that gave you an edge over others.
“Learn from the previous mistakes and stand up for your project until you get there.”