By Wilfred Pilo
KUCHING, June 21: A slice of heaven! That’s one way to describe a mouthwatering slice of pizza, freshly made and just out from a hot oven.
Nothing beats the taste of savoury tomato sauce and toppings and ooey-gooey mozzarella cheese on a layer of freshly baked pizza dough to make one feel divine.
It’s no wonder this Italian dish has captured the hearts of so many fans worldwide and often features prominently on lists of the top ten most addictive food in the world.
It is said that the dish itself is a symbol of Italian pride as carries the same colours as the Italian national flag of green, white and red.
It is no secret that it has also won over locals here of all ages love it.
Originating from Naples in Italy, pizza is a simple dish. It is a leavened wheat-based dough topped with a layer of tomato sauce, cheese, and various other ingredients, often savoury or salty.
Popular toppings include onions, mushrooms, olives, pineapple, anchovies, and deli meat.
Pizza is usually baked in a high-temperature oven or a traditional wood-fired oven.
The writer recently spoke to a local pizzaiolo of 13 years, Thomas Tong, who’s better known as Tom of popular local pizza stall Tom’s Pizza.
He is a trained chef specialising in Western cuisine, including pizza.
“I specialise in thin-crust pizza and had done this on my own for 11 years. Before this, I worked in a hospitality setting for two years. After much thought, I quit to do my own business,” revealed Tom.
“I make thin-crust pizzas measuring roughly 12-inches or medium size. It is about eight slices and just enough for two to three people.
“For a good eater, it would be just the perfect size. For me, it is the right size to sell to my patrons.
Tom opined that a thin-crust pizza is healthier as there are fewer carbohydrates and fewer calories but the identical quantity of toppings of sauce and cheese as thick-crust pizza.
“That is my opinion. It is up to the person on what they do after taking extra calories in their bodies.
“I think people love food that has the right chemistry in the ingredients. Once their brains have been triggered by the system, they crave the food.
“For pizza, the texture of the dough, the tomato sauce, the cheese, the herbs, savoury toppings and the colour makes people crave for it. This combination makes pizza addictive,” Tom opined.
He added that cheese and tomato make the perfect pair and this only adds to pizza’s addictiveness.
“According to a culinary scientist, these two ingredients have compounds that taste better when combined. It could be the reason people like pizza,” disclosed Tom.
He explained that baking pizza is easy but it took him a few tries and trial-and-error to get the right rhythm.
“After a while, it’s just routine in the kitchen. You have to get the ingredients right as ordered by a patron. Whilst baking, you have to ensure that everything is in place.
“There is constant monitoring of the oven. It is to ensure that the pizza is baked properly. This includes keeping the temperature consistent,” said Tom.
He disclosed that his pre-baked dough is prepared at his central kitchen.
“This is is to speed up our work at the baking station. When an order comes, we started with spreading tomato sauce on the pre-baked dough.
“It then followed by the cheese and the requested toppings before going into the oven,” he explained.
“The pizza is ready after 10 to 15 minutes with constant monitoring.
“All my ingredients are from the same supplier. With this, I get uniformity in the taste all the time.
“This helps in making sure my pizza tastes the same over the years. For example, for my tomato sauce, I use Italian Pomodoro sauce. It is made from fresh tomato, garlic, olive oil and fresh basil.
“The pre-mixed ingredients further help me in making the pizza and at the same time expedites the order when requested,” he added.
Tom disclosed he has 11 items on his menu, and his bestseller is the Italian Smoked Turkey Ham Pizza.
“It is popular among my patrons and regulars,” he said.
Other items on Tom’s menu includes Beef Pepperoni Pizza, Wild Mushroom Pizza, Hawaiian Pizza, Ocean Tuna Pizza, Cheese Pizza, Margarita Pizza, Smoked Duck Pizza, Hunter’s Catch Pizza, Christmas Pizza and Smoked Chicken Pepperoni Pizza.
Tom’s Pizza currently operates at Little Foot Cafe & Park (4.30pm to 7.30pm). Tom’s other stall, Old Lantern Pizza at Coffee Talk Cafe operates from 2.30pm to 7.30pm. For inquiries or bookings, call 016-869 9226. — DayakDaily