Serving 700 pies daily, cooked at 1,000 degrees, Carluccio’s is off to hot start
If there is any foodstuff the Atlantic City region possesses in prodigious quantities it is pizza.
Whether your preferences run to time-honored shops like Tony’s Baltimore Grill in A.C or Lou DeFusco’s All Natural in Ocean City, Boardwalk favorites Preps and Manco & Manco or cool oddities like the apple/cinnamon variety from Margate’s Ventura’s, there is certainly something for everyone.
That plethora of choices often makes it difficult for a newcomer to stand out among the crowd.
This is why veteran pizzeria owners Carlo Citera and wife Tina opted for a decidedly different approach for their latest pie purveyor, Carluccio’s, at the busy Northfield intersection of Tilton and Route 9.
The hook they chose is actually an anachronistic one: coal.
Specifically, anthracite coal, capable of producing temperatures beyond 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s one of the first things you’ll notice upon arrival at Carluccio’s, the number “1,000” adorned on the backs of staffers shirts. That blistering temp creates crisp, authentic pizza in well under three minutes. Citera, formerly the owner of several other local pizza outlets, admits taking much inspiration from Grimaldi’s, a beloved New York City institution originally based in Brooklyn.
He tells me that beyond the culinary advantages afforded by that high-heat fuel, it is considered to be the cleanest, most environmentally-friendly method available.
But it’s one that brings with it special responsibilities, like a two-hour run-up time just to get correctly to temp, along with a constant process of monitoring and adjustment. Citera explains: “It is not easy working with coal, you have to regulate the temperature. That oven blasts the heat.”
Believe it when I say this, those results are well worth the effort.
If there is any one quality that defines great cooking, it just might be courage. Restaurateurs are largely by nature risk-takers, willing to push and prod their enterprises forward.
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