Anatomy of a Dish: Uni Pizza
Chef-slash-TV personality Donatella Arpaia's latest Chelsea restaurant Prova is about one thing and one thing only: the pizza.
The team who's joined her in the sweeping, rustic-chic restaurant includes Maurizio de Rosa (owner of Sushi Nakazawa) and Ribalta's Rosario Procino and Pasquale Cozzolino. They take their pies seriously, having commissioned famed Italian oven maker Stefano Ferrara to install a custom-built pizza oven: Ferrara shipped the parts and then personally installed the red-tiled, wood-burning dome.
All of the pizzas are Neapolitan in style, and though one section of the menu offers classics like Margheritas and the like, seven "Nuova" pies feature ingredients and flavor combinations that veer decidedly left field. We fell for the Urcina, a luxe white pie topped with golden orange uni, so we asked de Rosa for the deep dive on how it's made.
① The dough slides into the oven for 90 seconds completely naked, save for a small mound of ice chips in the middle. The ancient technique keeps the dough hydrated as the ice evaporates and weighs it down ever so slightly, much like toppings would. After the pizza's dressed, it goes back into the Ferrara for another minute and change, coming out slightly less chewy than a traditional pie—almost flatbread-like—but still blistered and puffy.
② Mozzarella has no place on this pie: Those wisps of melted cheese are sheep's milk pecorino. According to de Rosa, they went with a sharp cheese rather than a creamy one to mirror the other briny flavors of the toppings.
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③ "I'm a big fan of uni at my Japanese restaurant, and when we were bouncing around ideas, we thought it would taste good on pizza," de Rosa laughs. Each of the pizza's four slices is anointed with a generous curl of Santa Barbara sea urchin roe (that would be the reason you're paying $29 for it).
④ Why yes, those are fresh mint leaves, not the standard parsley or basil. Cozzolino had initially experimented with salt-packed caper leaves, but switched to mint for its burst of brightness. And last but not least, the Urcina is spinkled with a flurry of lemon zest, and drizzled with squid ink and grassy Sicilian olive oil—the latter of which helps to meld all those biting flavors together without muting a single one.
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