In his suitcase, especially when he is travelling outside Italy, there is always a kilo of Sorrento lemons.

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A fruit immediately identifying his land, and always able to surprise with an unusual combination with pizza. This is out of the box! It is a personal innovation, but without betraying the roots deeply anchored in the Peninsula and in the tradition of Neapolitan pizza. In short, this is the idea Antonio Esposito has of his job, which is an important part and a leitmotif of his life. Nowadays he is an experienced pizza maker in Italy and abroad and, going back in time, until when he started when he still was a kid.




A lunch was determining for him.

At Uncle Salvatore’s house “who has a special place in my life – he highlights – He had two jobs as well: a bricklayer during the day, and a pizza maker at night. He asked me what was my job and when I told him that I was varnishing drawers, he suggested me to learn how to make pizza and go together to a pizza restaurant after lunch. I accepted, but only out of respect, surprised by that immediate invitation. Pizza wasn’t what I had in mind at all. But I went and that new thing intrigued me”.

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 The key of that new approach, more positive than expected, was curiosity, but then, how important was it? “A lot. Curiosity is the word accompanying me. Curiosity gave me the willingness to improve myself and make me do particular things such as the opening of my first bar when I was only nineteen. Its name was “Bingo”, it was located in Massalubrense and we made pizza only. Then, after six-seven years, I wanted to go to Sorrento, giving myself the time to find a little hole and move there.

Courage to change, courage to experience, to test himself. In short, counting more on the willingness to do better than others than on the experience. And to differentiate himself, his first new creation arrived, the frusta sorrentina. Then the innovation of the shapes. “It didn’t come out round at the beginning – he says smiling- it took some time to get there. Therefore, I decided to focus on that to make a distinctive element of it.


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In Milan, we made pizzas of all shapes, but not round. There are many Campanian pizza makers everywhere, this is why we need to think outside the box, and what is different is my pizza.

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But when is it that Neapolitan pizza becomes “mine” for Antonio Esposito?

“From the Neapolitan pizza I took its base. It needs to be treated with respect, like a woman, to make it mine. Therefore, it cannot be a copy”. Thirty seconds make the difference. “Let’s say that, for me, they correspond with the thirty kilometres away between, more or less, Sorrento and Naples”. This is the creative explanation. Another thirty seconds of cooking in order to guarantee the same taste and the same chewiness from the first to the last slice of pizza. “Those thirty seconds avoid the pizza to be gummy during the necessary time to eat it. It is a problem of humidity. I asked myself for a long time why, I studied the question and I found my answer. I don’t agree with the cooking time expected from the procedural guideline of Neapolitan pizza, which is of ninety seconds. In short, you need the time required, the clock and the speed are good for a race but not for what we are doing. Clear and direct. He adds “Pizza depends on the dough, the sugar, the cooking, there are many variations in such a homemade dish and you have to take it into consideration”.
However, the commitment to prepare an excellent pizza comes before the fundamental step of preparation, it starts with the choice of the products which will become the ingredients. Esposito has elaborated a strategy on this as well, leading him outside his pizza restaurants, on the territory: “For me is it necessary to always have excellent tomatoes with always the same taste, regardless of the different production batches. That’s why I go during the annual campaign in the company, I try and I stop the batch I want, which I will need for twelve months, until the next campaign. So, I am fine and I know that my pizza will have the same balance of taste both in Sorrento and in Catania or Milan. I get a preserves, which I use especially in winter, because in summer we work with fresh tomato, basically meaning for me tomatoes of SORRENTO.
The research of the right products is constant, careful, naturally linked to the local productions, close, known. From Provolone del Monaco cheese to Buffalo Mozzarella bought in Salerno and in Caserta; from caciocavallo cheese to fiordilatte of Schiazzano, from the Vesuvius piennolo (hanging tomatoes) tomatoes to plum tomatoes of Battipaglia. “Everything arrives fresh every day; our land is full of excellent products. Among all, tomatoes are the most important. They are essential for pizza”.
Esposito has been travelling abroad or years, he has held courses everywhere, in America, in Europe, in the Orient, in Arab Countries and in every part of Italy. How did you deal with different cultures, different habits and tastes? “The basis of everything is mutual respect and humility in the relationships with others. You don’t pretend to be the top of the class, you have to show how you work, make people eat pizza to understand and only then you can start a conversation. You need to accept different tastes and, with respect towards our product, make some concessions to the local culture. What is important is that others keep the experience allowing them to grow with their way of doing. These are interesting experiences for me as well, from where I learn about tastes, and important scents for the ideas to add to the tradition”.
For someone who doesn’t mind speaking about innovation and practicing it, what is the relationship with tradition? “I hundred percent follow the tradition, but this doesn’t exclude experimentation, of the flour for example, so that everyone can eat pizza: celiac, diabetics… I don’t like gourmet pizza, actually I wish there could be a procedure guideline for real pizza”.
DC Sorrento AAA 9423At work in his Acqua ‘e sale at Marina Piccola, just a short walking distance from Sorrento sea, Esposito prepares the creation of a new pizza restaurant in Massafra and the close reopening in Milan, but in another place. Many projects linked to pizza, “which gave me life. I don’t know what I would be doing now, if I didn’t do this”.

Which is Esposito’s favourite pizza, the one he eats? “The Marinara. It is like garlic and oil (Aglio e olio), it looks easy, but you easily ruin it. Undoubtedly, my favourite with San Marzano tomatoes and the preserves, two very well balanced flavours. And then a lot of basil matching perfectly with cooked oregano”. Pure sensory enjoyment. A timeless emotion.

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