Pummarola: Pizza Grandma's Way in the Gables

Pummarola: Pizza Grandma's Way in the Gables
Photo by Zachary Fagenson

A 900-degree wood-burning oven fires out nine-inch pies layered with salty speck and meaty zucchini disks, but it's the calzones you want. They ooze imported buffalo mozzarella, chicken, and a fruity, fragrant pesto or savory cotto ham and milky ricotta. There's a brief pause between the blistering oven and your table. A cook opens an inch-long slit in the pocket and douses it with tangy tomato sauce and a shot of Umbrian olive oil.

It's a Neapolitan twist, says Larry Mele, who owns Pummarola Pastificio and Pizzeria in Coral Gables and Boca Raton with his brothers Loris (a certified pizzaiolo who oversees the ovens), Ade, and Alessandro. The Boca outpost opened in 2012, and the Coral Gables location, nestled a block off Miracle Mile near Su-Shin Izakaya, began baking in late 2013. The place honors the brothers' grandmother, Rosa Donna Rummo, who used to bomb around Salerno, about 37 miles from Naples, in a cherry-red Fiat 500 while gathering supplies for her restaurant, Pizzeria Nonna.

Pummarola: Pizza Grandma's Way in the Gables
Photo by Zachary Fagenson

Two identical cars, nicknamed the Italian slang for tomatoes — pummarola — grace each location. Subway tiles cover the restaurants' walls, and red lamps dangle from the ceiling. Some of their grandmothers' cooking tools are still used in the kitchens, but it's her recipes that are most important.

The pantry, Mele says, is stocked with products that closely match the ones she used. Double-zero flour is imported from Polselli, which, along with Caputo, is one of only two companies recognized for milling the grains that eventually make Neapolitan pizzas. The brothers use yeast sparingly and employ a fork attachment, rather than the spiral used by some American pizzerias, to mix the dough. The former makes pies easy to digest, while the latter aerates the dough, creating puffy crusts. The pies here could use a few more seconds in the furnace, bringing them close to the one-minute mark, to provide some much-needed char.

Pummarola: Pizza Grandma's Way in the Gables
Photo by Zachary Fagenson

That oven-borne crunch is what makes Pummarola's calzones so good. There's also something appealing about the unceremonious way things are done here. You step up, place your order, grab a seat, and wait. Few of the small pizzas ring up to more than $10 each, and despite the plethora of imported ingredients, these pies are treated simply as fast, filling meals.

"In Italy, it's not a gourmet item," Mele explains. "It's not elite. It's food for everybody."


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