When we decided to open Sotto in 2011, it was never a question that we were going to focus on Neapolitan pizza. Since Naples is located in Southern Italy, we decided to focus on true Neapolitan pizza and celebrate the regions of Campania, Puglia, Sicily, Sardinia, Basilicata, and Calabria.
At the time, we were proud to have one of the first Neapolitan wood-burning pizza ovens in Los Angeles. Also, our oven was one of only ten ovens built by Stefano Ferrara onsite in the United States.
In honor of National Pizza Month, here is a look back at how our 15,000-pound oven made it into our little underground space on Pico Blvd.
Chef Steve Samson with Stefano Ferrara (and his wife Francesca) in his studio.
And on the 7th Day...
Yes, it took Stefano Ferrara 7 days to build Sotto's pizza oven. That's not including the two-day wait to replace broken pieces that had to be overnighted on a Fed-Ex plane. Here’s a recap of how it all went down:
Day 1: 15,000 pounds of equipment and supplies from Naples were imported into Los Angeles. We could barely watch as the truck almost tipped over.
Day 2: Stefano and his apprentice, Enzo, worked non-stop. This was taken at 2:10am.
Day 3: Stefano worked in a cramped space with low ceilings. His back was killing him but he stayed on task.
Day 4: Because of our low ceilings, Stefano had to build a custom external dome which makes the Sotto oven a real original.
Day 7: Ready to burn. We started treating the oven by burning it every day for a month. The week we opened, the oven was still sweating from all the moisture still held within it's walls.
Here we are five and a half years later, so lucky to continue to burn our oven every single night.