What's the secret to great-tasting pizza? "Patience," says chef Rubens Mullaj, who has been honing his craft for nearly 15 years. Born in Livorno, a city on the western coast of Tuscany, Mullaj has been in Miami for six years, the last two of which have been spent growing his mobile pizza catering business. His company, Il Pizzarello, consists of Mullaj and his truck trailer, which transports the chef and his wood-fired oven all over town.
Whether for a birthday party, a corporate affair, or a wedding, the chef — and his oven — will come to your home, office, or event space. However, on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 4 and 9 p.m, Mullaj sets up shop at the farmers' markets outside Whole Foods in North Miami and Pembroke Pines, respectively. This way, the general public can get a taste of his authentic Neapolitan-style pies. And they're incredible. True to Neapolitan form, his crusts are thin and crisp, with charred bubbles, and his tomato sauce is tangy and smooth.
The half-Albanian, half-Italian chef uses San Marzano tomatoes for his sauce, the only kind approved by Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana — the Neapolitan pizza association. For the dough, Mullaj buys the 00 variety of flour — the gold standard in the industry — and says his cheeses and olive oil are imported from Italy and can't be found in Miami stores.
Whether you order a standard margherita or get the supreme with tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, ham, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions — you're in for a tidal wave of flavor. "It's all in the wrist," Mullaj says of his technique for ensuring the pies are thin enough without breaking.
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Il Pizzarello is Mullaj's full-time job, and he says for the time being he's not thinking about establishing a brick-and-mortar location or giving the food truck business a try. "Maybe in the future I’ll change my mind, but for now I’m happy with what I’m doing," he says.
Back in Italy, the now-33-year-old grew up watching his father and uncle make pizzas and says he ended up in Miami because his wife, an architect, enrolled at Florida International University. Mullaj says that the response to Il Pizzarello has been great thus far and that he has plenty of return customers.
His catering packages start at $420 for 20 people, but at the Whole Foods farmers' market, you can purchase a 12-inch pie for $9 to $13. His technique and commitment to using the finest ingredients are undeniable, and if you can afford to have him come to one of your gatherings, prepare to have your friends worship you. Book the mobile pizza oven at ilpizzarellomiami.com.