Our journey through the lands of Prosecco continues in the Province of Belluno, a land located between high mountains and gentle valleys.
In Belluno, we find Denis Lovatel a pizza artist who besides introducing us to the perfect food pairing of pizza and prosecco, also speaks to us about his “mountain pizza”, which was born in the Dolomites but thanks to its ingredients found in mountainous areas rich in forests, rivers and lakes, it is easily replicable in Canada!
Pizza and Prosecco sounds like a very innovative combination; can you talk about it a bit more?
More than an innovative combination, I would define it as the perfect match for pizza! For many years and even today, most people are accustomed, even in Italy, to drink beer when they eat pizza. However, beer and pizza are hard to combine with each other due to their high yeast content which easily causes bloating! Prosecco, on the other hand, is perfect to accompany pizza because its freshness and bubbles offer a light alternative to heavy pizza. In recent years, with the advent of the concept of “gourmet” or “contemporary” pizza, where the search for the perfect dough is combined with the search for creative toppings, food pairings with wine is even more important.
Speaking of your pizza, you describe it as a mountain. What do you mean by that?
My mission through my creations, has always been to represent Belluno and its wonderful mountains. So I decided to create a very different pizza than the traditional Neapolitan, and created one which pays homage to where I am from. The water for the dough comes from a local natural mountain spring, the flour comes from local mills, and the remaining ingredients I use are: typical mountain cheeses, and cured meats made with local farmers who raise livestock that feed on wild herbs from the area. It is very important for me to support Belluno’s economy and small businesses. My pizza is an expression of love to my home province.
What are some traditional and innovative pizzas that you would recommend for the North American consumer?
North America and in particular Canada is very similar to my homeland in the sense that it is mountainous and rich in nature. For this reason I feel very close to some of their culinary traditions. For a traditional pizza I would suggest a pizza with tomato, mozzarella, roasted sausage, baked potatoes and fried onion. A very tasty and hardy pizza that will help people cope with the harsh Canadian winters. For an innovative pizza I would focus on local ingredients and I could imagine a pizza based on smoked Sockeye salmon with mozzarella, sour cream and avocado; or a pizza with tomato, mozzarella, arugula, beef carpaccio, mushrooms and blueberries or wild strawberries.
Belluno is a relatively unknown province surrounded by nature and mountains; what are some of your favourite places to visit around the province and why?
My favourite places in Belluno are absolutely the mountains found all over the province and especially those that surround my hometown, the village of Alano di Piave which was the site of the battle of Monte Grappa during WW1. Within the mountainside I would recommend visiting Vette Feltrine, which is the southernmost mountain pass of the Dolomites, the area is covered in lush forests and has stunning views. Lastly, I would also recommend the city of Feltre, where I live, which is rich in historical and traditional buildings and is home to the famous Palio.