A Roman Pizzaiolo in the Jungle
There is a giant wood fired stove in the jungle off the Nicaraguan pacific coast and twice a week a man from Rome fires it up to make incredible pizza.
Sergio Terantini has lived in Nicaragua for 25 years and was married to a local woman. They split up, leaving him time to fuss over dough, sauce and cheese at Munchies Blues. Each of his handful of tables at this rustic al fresca restaurant set down in the woods along side a dirt road between the tourist town of San Juan Del Sur and Playa Maderas are always sold out.
Sergio is the only person he allows back in his kitchen. He doesn’t trust anybody with his ingredients or his process. Quality control, or simply just control, maybe the reasons for that, but I trust it also has to do with the fact that he likes to be the star of his show.
Sergio is a blues man and you will hear a lot of it coming out his stereo. He dances between the oven and his laptop selecting tracks from Itunes as each new pie emerges from the oven. Gorganzola, pepperoni and pecorino, each pie is unique and they roll out like sets at a concert.
He tells me the essence of his restaurant is good music, played loudly, fused with good product.
All of his ingredients, aside from the flour, are sourced from Italy. He must travel two and half hours to Managua to secure his pecorino, gorganzola and speck.
Unlike the home country, pizza making in the jungle means a constant battle against moisture. The merits of a good pie are based on the crust and to arrive at that perfect crispy and chewy consistency has a lot to do with the how the dough is leavened.
Sergio leavens his dough 8 hours against the elements of the humid seaside tropics. I look forward to returning in the dry season to taste if his crust is any different. Not that it needed any improvement.