Macoletta's Pizza-Making Class is the Perfect NYC Date Spot
“Why open up a pizza shop? Because I could - and do - eat pizza every single day. I think it’s the most delicious food in the world. It brings people together and makes them happy.”
Those in attendance at a recent pizza-making class at Macoletta in Astoria nodded their heads in agreement with owner and founder Walid Idriss. The sentiment obviously resonated—pizza really does speak to the soul.
That’s why a pizza-making class is the perfect activity for couples both new and old. I’m not talking about just any type of pizza—I’m talking about authentic Italian-style pizza, one that comes out piping hot from a wood-fired oven, at a pizzeria whose owner lived and studied how to make pizza in Italy. Despite the fact that he learned to make pizza while working at a pizzeria in Venice, Walid is a lover of Neapolitan pizza, with it’s thick, chewy crust and minimalistic toppings. Pizza was invented in Naples, Italy - and Walid goes straight to the source for his inspiration—with the exception of his Marana Forni oven, of course.
Walid is incredibly proud of his oven - as he should be. The Marana Forni is used at all of the best pizza schools throughout Italy and Europe, and it is the only oven of its type.
So what’s so special about it?
To ensure an even cook, the Marana Forni oven uses a combination of both wood and gas to regulate the temperature. The central component of the oven also rotates, which means that each pizza is exposed to the same amount of heat. What differentiates the Marana Forni oven from other wood-fired ovens that rotate is that the center slab on which the pizzas are placed also moves up and down, which creates a sort of convection-oven effect that quickly and thoroughly cooks the pizzas in 90 seconds. No other pizzeria in New York City owns a Marana Forni oven.
Walid - a former finance professional on Wall Street - takes a very hands-on approach at his class, leading the group from start to finish along with his incredible crew. Pouring each of his students a glass of red wine (or white, or beer - your choice!), Walid shares his recipe for pizza dough, while his assistant Alessandro makes homemade mozzarella in the background.
Alessandro makes the mozzarella at Macoletta every single day by pulling over twenty pounds of cheese to reduce the liquid and create the perfect consistency for Macoletta’s salads and pizza.
Macoletta’s pizza-making class teaches you how to make the most beloved of Italian pizzas: the pizza margherita, made with only a few ingredients: San Marzano tomatoes, salt, parmesan, basil, and mozzarella. Everything at Macoletta is either locally sourced or imported straight from Italy, and the freshness and purity of the individual ingredients perfectly complement one another.
The next step in the class is patting out the dough. Walid and his assistant teach you how to perfectly press out the pizza dough, ensuring that the crust is thick, defined, and airy. After assembling the ingredients, they then use their technical expertise to stretch the dough on the slip and pop it into the oven for a brief 90 seconds.
“We serve our pizzas Italian style, so you eat it with a fork and knife,” Walid smiles as he pulls our pizzas piping hot out of the oven and pours another glass of wine.
Several delicious bites later, we look up and see Walid pulling two more Macoletta specials out of the oven for us to sample and share: the vegan “Macoletta” pizza, which pays ode to Walid’s Algerian roots and is comprised of Harissa, Cauliflower, Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, Artichokes; and a variation of the “Diablo” with a spicy salame, calabrian chili, and a drizzle of honey. And just when you think you couldn’t get any fuller, Walid surprised the group with a most wonderful dessert pizza made of pizza dough and Nutella, delicious in its simplicity.
While the food at Macoletta is exquisite, what keeps us coming back is the charm and the heart that Walid puts into everything he does. The beautiful, bespoke copper cover over the oven is locally made and hand-crafted. He and his team literally built out the interior of the restaurant from the ground up, crafting the wood-work by hand, installing the wooden beams in the ceiling, The gelato on his dessert menu is purchased from an Italian gelateria down the block, and the espresso comes from Zibetto.
Besides the fact that Macoletta’s pizza is one of the best I’ve had outside of Italy (and this is coming from someone who lived in Italy for four years and has no qualms admitting she’s a bonafide pizza snob), their pizza-making class was an absolute delight. The atmosphere is calm, relaxed, inviting, and friendly. Walid and his team are knowledgeable and gracious, you get your hands dirty in a fun and interactive way, and you get to sample some of the house’s best offerings in addition to your own whole pizza—not to mention the free beer and wine. At $50 per person for two hours of good food and fun, we think that the class is a steal - and it makes for an impressive and unique date spot.
To keep up with Macoletta, be sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. You can learn more about their menu, order delivery, or sign up for their next pizza making class by visiting their website.