Gabriele Bonci has been called "the Michelangelo of pizza"—and now anyone can sign up for his classes
At age 14, Gabriele Bonci bought a scooter. For most Romans, this is a normal rite of passage, but for the teenager who would become Italy's foremost celebrity baker, it was the beginning of his career. "I'd drive that scooter all over town to bakeries. My father would have to drag me home," Bonci reminisced. Surveying his massive frame, it's difficult to imagine anyone dragging him anywhere.
Clearly, the early start paid off and by 17, Gabriele was working in restaurant kitchens. He had early dreams of becoming a cook, penning a middle school term paper on the topic. His penchant for baking ultimately led him to open Pizzarium, Rome's most revered pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) joint, in July 2003.
Pizza by the slice is a ubiquitous street food in Rome, and in some venues, like Pizzarium, it has become an art form; accordingly, Vogue consecrated Bonci "the Michelangelo of pizza" some years back. Unlike the round personal pizzas one might encounter at a sit-down pizzeria in Rome, pizza al taglio is a rectangular or oblong slab of dough that is cut into quadrilateral slices and sold by weight. While the approach (to dough, for example) varies from place to place, the basic formula calls for baked flatbread with toppings. In Rome, the quality of ingredients for both strata have seen an unfortunate decline over the past decades as the costs of artisanal flour, cheese, and cured meats have risen sharply, leading them to be replaced with industrial substitutes.