At 8 a.m. sharp Monday, April 18, a Mediterranean Shipping Co. flatbed pulled up to the log-sided restaurant just south of the village.
Inside the shipping container was rarity for these parts, a 6,200-pound hand-made brick oven from Stefano Ferrara, a century-old family-run enterprise in Naples, Italy.
Inside the rarity is a novelty: The bricks are made from ash spewed forth by Mount Vesuvius, which famously buried the resort town of Pompeii in 79 A.D.
“They are able to withstand 900 degrees,” said Joe Vezza, the restaurateur who by the end of May plans to open Bocca Osteria, a full-service restaurant, in the former Java Joe’s building, now expanded.
This didn’t just happen. Vezza, proprietor of New York Pizzerias in Cooperstown and Richfield
Springs, researched who produced the best brick ovens in the world.
To verify his findings, he took road trips – to Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizzeria in Denver, Colo., and Dough Pizzeria in San Antonio, Texas – in a quest that eventually identified Stefano Ferrara, which operates in the U.S. under the name, Uno Forno, (one oven).
The company’s namesake founded his enterprise in 1920 in Naples, birthplace of Pizza Napoletana. (GIs stationed in Italy brought back a craving for the spicy flat disc of dough to the U.S. after World War II.)
Stefano passed the company to his son, Natale, who passed it to his son, also Stefano. Today, it has the reputation for quality that Vezza was seeking.
Because of its high temperatures, the Ferrara oven can cook a pizza pie in 90 seconds. Also, Vezza and his chefs will be able to top a dish with cheese, pop it into the oven and have the cheese melted in a flash.
Vezza’s mother’s brother, Fiorentino Falso, has been making pizzas in very similar ovens in a Naples trattoria, and he will be arriving in Cooperstown May 6 to help his nephew in the new undertaking.
Does he plan any specialty pizzas? “There is no specialty pizza,” Vezza replies. “They are ALL specialty pizzas.”
But that’s not all. While his existing parlors offer some dishes beyond pizza, 50-seat Bocca Osteria will offer a full menu – inspired in part by his mother’s cuisine when Joe was growing up in Utica – and a full bar and wine list.
“Italian bistro-style. Sit down. Casual attire. Moderately priced,” Vezza describes it in his staccato style. “I want locals. I want to be open all year, for local people to come by and enjoy themselves.”
|What Vezza saw inside the oven were these bricks, made from the ashes of Mount Vesuvius, and thus able to withstand temperatures up to 900 degrees.|