Last week, we asked the people of Sayulita to vote for the best pizza in Sayulita and here’s the result!
Meet Angelo D’Agostino, the owner of El Italiano Pizza in Sayulita. There are many great pizza restaurants here, but you, the locals of Sayulita, chose his pizza as the best in our inaugural Best of the Best Series!
Angelo is from the small town of Pescara on the Adriatic Sea. Nearly 20 years ago, he opened Bibo Ristorante with his brother. The pair received numerous culinary awards. In 2013, Angelo left his brother to take a vacation. As happens to many of us, Angelo stumbled upon Sayulita and decided to stay.
We sat down with Angelo to see him in action, and to try to steal his secret recipes! We spent an evening sweating it out with him at his restaurant. It doesn’t take long for an oven at 270°-Celsius (nearly 500° F) to heat a small concrete room.
Angelo opened El Italiano in 2017. At the time, it was a 20-square-meter cube in a hotel’s construction site. Angelo made the pizza there and drove orders all over town on his moto. The hotel was completed in 2019 and Angelo has since painted the walls, added tables on an outdoor terrace, and made a small garden around the tables, where diners can enjoy the cool breeze on a hot day.
Angelo arrives around 5 to begin preparations. If there is not a candle already burning from the previous night, Angelo begins his day by lighting a new one. It’s very important” he told us, “to call in the good auspices for the day.”
After this, he lights the oven and makes the pomodoro (tomato in Italian) sauce, a simple red sauce. In the refrigerator are mounds of dough that he made that morning. When an order comes in, he removes a tray of dough, cuts out one mound for each pizza, and lays it on his floured granite countertop. Kneading carefully, he forms a thin circle that will become the pizza crust. He then spoons the sauce in the center and spreads it over the crust. He adds the toppings, covers the pizza with mozzarella, and it’s ready for the oven. He slides a carbon-fiber and aluminum tray (made for this exact purpose) under the pizza, places it in the oven and deftly slides it back out.
In a couple minutes, he lifts the pie and places it on a wire-mesh tray (to keep the crust from burning on the hot stone of the oven’s floor. In such intense heat, the crust and ingredients are cooked and the cheese melted to golden brown perfection in just a few minutes.
Angelo prepares a box (or polished circular wooden block, if the customer is dining on the terrace) removes the pizza, drizzles olive oil on the crust, and places it in the box with a sprig of fresh basil and a small container of chili oil. Ecco la pizza!
One of the people’s favorite is the quattro formaggi, a blend of four italian cheeses: emmental (which is actually Swiss [or French, according to the French] and certainly not Italian), gorgonzola, parmigiano reggiani, and of course, mozzarella. Angelo serves this pizza with pomodoro sauce, but explained to us that the quattro formaggi tradizionale is a white pizza, with olive oil and no pomodoro.