You can find great mozzarella and great pizza in New York. But restaurants that make mozzarella from scratch to put on their pizza? That’s another story. When Franco Spatola offered a factory to plate demonstration in Queens, we couldn’t resist.
Franco came to New York from Italy in 1969, worked in a West Village pizzeria, and honed his craft in the 70’s at his first restaurant. He then followed in the tradition of his father: making mozzarella. About six years ago he opened the Spatola Latticini factory, in Ridgewood, which he runs with his brother, Freddy.
At his restaurant, Franco cuts the mozzarella into half-inch cubes, then scatters them over the sauced pies for even distribution. He takes particular pride in how much he stretches the dough. After a few minutes a pie was ready: Prosciutto with Arugula and Cherry Tomatoes. It was crispy and thin—maybe three times as thick as carta di musica. The best bites were the sweet ones with the cheese and the tomatoes.
“It’s enough to spoil eating it any other way.”
The better showcase was the Mozzarella Al Profumo Di Basilico, where the cheese is served with slices of tomato, roasted peppers, olives and basil. It’s a quality rendition of the classic Insalata Caprese. Neither application was as good as eating it fresh from the machine, where the cheese managed to retain more salt. It’s enough to spoil eating it any other way.
Spatola Latticini Factory
1852 Decatur St.,
New York, NY, 11385
Phone: (631) 384-6666
This post was originally published January 29th, 2010, on the now-defunct, James-Beard Award-nominated blog AlwaysHungryNY.com.