By Suzanne Corbett, STLSportsPage.com Travel / Food Editor
Super Bowl is considered the busiest day for pizza sales with an estimated 13 million pizza sold. That’s a record, which according to the American Pizza Community, a coalition of the nation’s largest to the smallest pizza companies, and was probably broken with Super Bowl LV due to an increase of households ordering carry-out and delivery. Sales are expected to continue to ride the tsunami through Tuesday February 9, National Pizza Day. A day Joe Kurowski, owner of Pizzeria da Gloria can appreciate.
National Pizza Day may well be Kurowski’s favorite day of the year, considering his dream was to become a pizzaiolo – that’s Italian for pizza maker. And if you are wondering, he did not name his new restaurant after the Blues’ theme song during their Stanley Cup Championship run. Pizzeria da Gloria was named in honor of his late grandmother, Gloria, who loved pizza.
‘’I’ve always wanted to open pizzeria,’” said Kurowski, who isn’t Italian, but speaks the language. He had the opportunity to live in Rome for a year during college, and when asked if Pizzeria da Gloria’s pizza, including the sausage pizza shown left, is Roman or Neapolitan style he explained it is somewhere in the middle.
“Neapolitan style pizza is quickly baked in a really hot oven, about 900 degrees,” he said. “As a result, not all the moisture cooks out it making it a little floppier. Roman style has two styles. One is round and called tonda, which is like a St. Louis style pizza, then there’s another called pizza Italiano that’s more of a pan pizza. Our pizza is like a Neapolitan style, but we cook it at a lower temperature so it has more time to crisp up. We call it American pizza with Italian sensibilities.”
Kurowski’s pizza produced at the Pizzeria da Gloria is based on skills garnered while in Italy studying the art of pizza under Gabriele Bonci. Bonci is a renowned master pizza maker whose has been dubbed the Michelangelo of dough. And when it comes to pizza, dough is the foundation of a great pizza. No surprise Kurowski insists on making his own dough, based on a sourdough formula, which hold true to the ancient tradition of making pizza with naturally leaven dough. The cheese pizza is shown in photo right.
“We use wood fired ovens, and we use Missouri Oak,” said Kurowski. “The wood fire is as important as the rest of the ingredients.”
Counted among those ingredients is the house-made mozzarella and burrata. it has a creamy center made from fresh mozzarella, which is shredded for his signature Stracciatelli pizza. As Kurowski explained, the Stracciatelli, which translates to “stretched” in Italian, features fresh mozzarella, is handmade, stretched, shredded and soaked in cream. It tops the homemade crust ladled with tomato sauce before the cheese is scattered over the top and baked.
Another nice pizza offering that will tempt gourmets is the Bonci. It is a unique combination topping the crust with thinly sliced roasted eggplant, which is baked without traditional sauce and finished with a chili garlic oil, Kosher salt and parsley.
It’s worth mentioning that Joe’s culinary training includes working as a line cook at Marta, located in New York City, which is owned by another famous St. Louis restaurateur, Danny Meyer. He also taught pizza making classes at the famed Brooklyn Kitchen.
I could continue relating Joe’s culinary resume, however, I won’t. Instead it happily ends with a return to St. Louis, opening his own place, celebrating his grandmother who loved pizza– especially her grandson Joe’s.
Pizzeria da Gloria is located in the heart of The Hill, at 2024 Marconi, across from Milo’s. They are open Wednesday through Sundays with Wednesdays being their special “Prosecco and Pizza Night”
Wednesdays in February get a margherita pizza and a bottle of Col di Luna Flora prosecco for 25 bucks. The special is for takeout only and you can order online. For information on hours, the menu and ordering options, click on pizzeriadagloria.com.