Phantom Gourmet: Prides Piccola Napoletana In Beverly

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BEVERLY – Ciro Langella is an artist: sculpting, shaping and firing each of his masterpieces in a 1200 degree kiln.

The art of pizza making has been celebrated in the Langella family for over a century, dating to their beginnings in Naples Italy. Sixth generation pizzaiolo Ciro continues the family business at Prides Piccola Napoletana in Beverly.

“In Italy being a pizzaiolo is a very well respected profession and it’s an art form,” explained owner Michael Magner. “The way that these guys handle the dough and what they know about pizza. It’s so, so amazing.”

This tiny pizza shop puts out authentic Neapolitan style pizza every day. It all comes from an oven that Magner imported from Ciro’s father.

“A famous pizzaiolo named Antonio Langella made this oven from scratch in Naples, Italy, and unfortunately this is Antonia Langella’s last oven he’ll ever make. He did pass away.”

So to carry on the family legacy, Ciro works day and night using only fresh ingredients and age old techniques. “His entire life he has been a pizzaiolo. All he’s done is made pizza.”

The oven itself is a true work of art.

“The whole base of the oven is actually filled with black Vesuvian sand: black volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius,” Magner demonstrated. “The mouth as you can see on the oven is extremely small.”

“This oven fires at 1200 degrees and weighs about 9,000 pounds. All the tiles are marble from Naples and it’s a special piece.”

Just as special are all of the pizzas, sandwiches and desserts. There’s the Sicilian Pizza topped with eggplant, Prosciutto and olives; and there’s the flavor-packed Carrettiera pizza.

“It’s one of our Bianco pizzas, one of our white pizzas. It’s absolutely delicious, sausage and broccoli rabe. They play off each other so well. It’s such an awesome combination.”

The quintessential Prides pizza has to be the pure and simple Margarita, a pie Michael always suggests to first timers.

“It’s a baseline pizza. I mean there’s nothing standard about it but, it’s essentially our cheese pizza. This pizza is not like any pizza you’ve ever had in your life. It is light. You can sit and have a large pizza to yourself and you won’t feel overstuffed.”

The Pesto pizza is another must-try because all of the green goodness is made by Chef Paolo, just doors down at their sister restaurant Prides Osteria.

“The dough and the pesto is just so beautiful, and then you get the creamy cheesiness and the smokiness from the oven, and then everyone loves some pancetta some Italian bacon, and then you get the little bit of acidity from the fresh cherry tomatoes on top. It just comes together like something you’ve never had before,” described Magner.

The menu at Prides goes way beyond pizza. There are sandwiches served on bread baked right before your eyes.

“Your bread is cooked to order when you order your sandwich. It’s going to go right into the oven and 30 seconds later it’s gonna be a beautiful fresh-baked roll that’s going to kind of puff up. You cut the middle and steam pours out of the top and you put the fresh meatballs in there, and the broccoli rabe and put it back in the oven with a little smoked provola and it crisps right up and you’re ready to go.”

The Mezza Luna is part pizza, part calzone. Ciro makes this heavenly hybrid by stuffing one end of the dough with ricotta, mozzarella, and thin slices of salami, before folding it over and creating a pizza packed with fresh arugula, prosciutto and shaved parmesan.

“So you get a little calzone and a pizza all in one. If you could find a better pizza in the world then I’d be surprised. It is out of this world,” Magner boasted.

Equally as impressive is the O’Vulio, a plate pairing a fried dough pocket of ricotta, mozzarella and salami with a fried dough simply garnished with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. Then there’s the ultra-indulgent Timballo, a fried ball stuffed with spaghetti, Bechemel, peas and cheese.

“It’s got the spaghetti inside of it you get the crispiness of the fried exterior and it’s just a really, really interesting contrast. It’s something you’ve got to try to believe.”

Even the fried mozzarella is executed perfectly, with housemade mozzarella – fried until gooey.

“The cheese just stretches out and it’s so beautiful. These are one of those things you can eat with your eyes.” Magner said. “You cut this open and you know you love it before you even take your first bite.”

Whether you have room or not, you have to order one of Prides’ Nutella Calzones to cap off your meal.

“The Nutella calzone is amazing. It’s just a beautiful dough that they use with the Nutella and it’s got powdered sugar over it. It’s gooey and delicious.”

In the end, keeping things authentic is something Michael and Ciro strive for every day.

“It’s just so special to see everyone say, ‘this is how my grandmother did it.’ ‘This is how my father did it.’ You know, it’s a taste of the old world and it just means so much to me to be authentic and to be truthful and to be true; to do things the right way and treat people as family. It’s a really special experience.”

You can find Pride’s Piccola Napoletana at 202 Rantoul Street in Beverly.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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