After cooking for my friend and date to the wedding for almost 10 days, I wanted a break from the stove. We decided to eat out. At first I was at a loss for suggestions, then I remembered that one of the hottest — hot as in spicy — pizza places I ever ate at was here in Florence.
I only ate there once over a year ago. I remembered that it was not in the center, but over the river and away from the hustle and bustle of visitors. I could not recall the exact name of the restaurant. I only knew that the word “fratelli” (brothers) was part of the name and the owners were Calabrese.
After some searching on the Web I found the pizzeria. Rocco e I Suoi Fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers) was located in Piazza Ravenna, right down the street from my apartment. All these months I never knew that great tasting real Italian pizza was so close to me.
Florence is known for many traditional foods, pizza is not one of them. Not to say you can’t find good pizza here, but generally in Italy it is best to eat the dish in the town of origin, as the locals or to be more precise, creators, have first- hand knowledge of how it should be prepared.
But this pizzeria is different. The owners are from Calabria, a region known for its hot peppers. The menu has a section dedicated to hot toppers. My friend chose “Stai Lontano da Me” (Stay Far Away From Me) a triple-hot-topped pizza. There was perperoncino piccante (hot chili pepper) spread, freshly chopped garlic and chunks of hot sausage, ʹNduja — enough spice to keep Dracula away.
The origins of ʹNduja are uncertain, but what is certain is that it was brought to the region either by the French or Spanish and is now a food that is considered Calabrese.
The pizzeria is just that, a place to eat pizza. Around the room are signs warning the customer not to get out of hand. “If you get up to smoke outside, stay outside,” was written on one sign.
That’s why I love eating here. Like true Southern Italians, they don’t mess around.