Updated: Apr 18, 2018
"There’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap."
– Kevin James
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When I first arrived to Italy with Bria, we took a little detour before heading to Florence. After my "adoptive Ital" (foreign exchange) family picked us up from the airport, we began the journey back to their home in Avezzano, a place that was also my home four years ago.
Racing along the highway, I felt nostalgia surge through my veins. Though so many years had passed, it was like nothing had changed. I was back home. As we caught up on our lives, trading old memories, and sharing new developments, my heart began to grow warmer. Our conversation didn't take a pause until the sun began to dip behind the town's snow-covered mountains.
Despite some lingual hurdles that Bria had to adapt to on her first day abroad, when the conversation eventually turned to dinner, she became more confident.
So, when Mamma Paola suggested, "Pizza?" Bria nodded eagerly, giving my family quite a chuckle.
Pizza. A word without language barriers. A word that embodies the familiar, comfort, and all things good.
Though I had been craving pizza from another competitive pizzeria, my Mamma Paola finally persuaded me to take a chance on a new locale.
I was a bit apprehensive at first, but as soon as we I saw the"Pizza al naturale" sign hanging overhead as we pulled up to Granocielo, I changed my mind. Maybe I could have two favourite pizzerias?
Walking in, I realized that this place was über cool. The design of the shop was minimalistic: clean, crisp, and simple. Just a few wooden tables and bar stools, the daily specials written in chalk. The menu was no different, respecting "le regole della natura" (the rules of nature).
Square slabs of pizza, topped with curious cheeses, unique veggies, and cured meats, laid for a brief moment under warm silver trays and protected my glass, before being wrapped up for another customer to enjoy!
Kyrylo Yakushev, a pizza maven and the mastermind behind Granocielo, strives to make the most natural pizza possible by using local ingredients and traditional techniques. Definitely different from the processed pizza joints back home in North America.
And honestly, I can vouch for their quality. Only fresh ingredients would make the little pizzeria smell like an absolute dream. The aroma of baking dough also floated in a thick haze around me. It's one of those scents that always makes me feel warm, reminding me of how Nonna's cooking used to infuse the whole house with savoury perfume.
Choosing which pizzas to bring back home was difficult. How can you possibly choose a few slices when there are endless trays of pizzas! Luckily, we decided to get a little bit of everything.
Once our chosen pizza slices were cut, weighed, priced, and packaged, we drove back home, the warmth of the pizza box heated my legs (and my heart!). Though it was only an eight minute drive, it felt like time had stopped. We couldn't get home fast enough to try the artisanal creations!
The variety of slices we ordered included:
Ricotta, pomodori secchi e patate
Speck, verza e mozzarella
Broccoli e salsiccia
Fiore di zucchine e mozzarella
Patate e salsiccia
Guanciale e ricotta
My personal favourite was fiore di zucchine. I have never had zucchini flowers on a pizza before and I am happy to report that it works! 100%. 10/10. Two thumbs up. The delicate flavours dance along your tastebuds and leave you craving more.
I'm not sure if I'm proud or ashamed to say that I sampled ALL of the pizzas for dinner that night. The bright and colourful ingredients and the fragrant aromas were jut too inviting to resist! Who would have thought of such unusual but completely brilliant flavour combos? Oh yeah, Kyrylo :)
BTW, the pizza is delicious even the day after.
I ate it for breakfast...and as a mid-morning snack... and maybe again for lunch as I was journalling! Thank goodness we bought so much pizza :)
If you every find yourself in Avezzano, you should definitely check out Granocielo. If you're overseas, you can live vicariously through their Instagram, which is pure art and might also give you incentive to pay this place a visit. Trust me when I say that I have never tasted pizza so unique, delicious, and organically good!
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Tell me the name of your favourite pizza places in the comments below!