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The “crunchy future” of Italian pizza in Quebec

The “crunchy future” of Italian pizza in Quebec

The pizza chef originally from Turin, Italy — and a certified Montrealer for 12 years — was in the Quebec capital this week. He was present at the opening of a new branch of Pizzeria Morso on Rue Saint-Jean, almost a year after the opening of the branch on Third Avenue in Limoilo.

The forty-year-old said as he sat at the table sun — in a soft, old-fashioned country accent — his vision of Italian pizza in Putin's kingdom. It's a subject he knows by heart, having received top honors over the years in international pizza competitions.

Q: What should you be called: Chef, Pizza Vendor, Pizza Maker or World Pizza Champion?

R [Rires] No, I really like being called just Mirko! I come from an Italian culinary school where hierarchy was very present, perhaps even too much.

Yes, my title is Executive Chef of Morso Group and Pizzeria No 900, but I prefer to be on the same level as everyone else. My goal is to share my knowledge and passion.

Q: Where does this passion come from?

R In my family, I have my uncle – who is a great chef – and my father who loves to cook. I noticed them a lot.

When I was young, I used to go for Neapolitan pizza with my father every Sunday. I would sit at the table and watch the fire in the wood-burning oven and the cooks working. This is how it started: the smells, the fire, the adrenaline, the flour, etc.

Question: Did the Roman pizza appeal to you immediately?

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R I started when I was 15 years old, but my passion for Roman pizza came later, because it was not yet popular in northern Italy, where I am from.

Q: Not famous, really?

R No, because you should know that pizza in Italy is really diverse. Neapolitan pizza has been making its place in the country for about 20 years. But people from the regions of Piedmont, Sardinia or Lombardy still prefer to eat their own version of pizza dough, very thin and crispy.

Some examples of the crispy Roman pizza served at Moreso

Q: So, what other unknown types of pizza can we explore?

R There are so many different types of pizza in my country that you can't stop discovering them. If we go to Sicily, the dough is made entirely of semolina. If we go north or just to Rome, round pizza has nothing to do with Neapolitan pizza. It is a very thin pizza, cooked for three to four minutes, crispy, and called… Scroccarella.

Elsewhere in the world, there is Chicago style deep dish and thin-crust Chicago. there is here Sicilythere Grandmathere Detroit styleIt is a hybrid between focaccia and romaine.

Q: In your opinion, what does the future of pizza look like in Quebec?

R I think the future is bright. We are moving towards something where we can combine cooked products with pizza. Roman pizza is an example. You can push the Neapolitan further, being careful not to overload it.

Q Do you already have an idea for the pizza of the future that you will show us?

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R Maybe something new and crunchy. Let's put a hybrid between Neapolitan, Roman and A New York style. Very light crispy pastry that brings out the ingredients.

Question: This will be next a job?

R maybe [avec un sourire en coin]. Maybe we'll work on something like this…

Q How do you adapt your Italian culture to the tastes of Quebecers?

R I have European taste, but you also have to understand the tastes here. Some flavors are traditional to me, without necessarily being appreciated here.

For example, I actually made a pizza using pancetta, pecorino and kidney beans, of which Quebec was a major producer. In the end, only five people ate it: me four times and another customer! [rires]

Led by a team of co-owners Justine Renaud Giraud, Alec Boulian, Charles-Antoine Giraud and Lindomar Almeida dos Reis, Pizzeria Moresso unveiled its decor to customers on Rue Saint-Jean at the end of February.

Q What brought you to Rue Saint-Jean to visit the Meursault branch?

R Changing neighborhoods is like change Vibration. This varies for two reasons. Here, there are a lot of tourists who will pass by. I imagine it will be busier this summer.

There are also a lot of people living in the area. It's really perfect for us as a neighborhood pizzeria where we prioritize sharing.

Q Do you have other projects for the Quebec region?

R We have a new Meursault branch probably in Quebec, end of 2024, beginning of 2025. And other possibilities that we can't talk about at the moment.

Q How much do you enjoy the pizza competitions you participate in?

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R In 2019, we placed first in the World Cup in Naples with Roman pizza and second in Las Vegas with the Neapolitan. At the International Pizza Challenge in Atlantic City, we placed second and third in 2017 and 2018, and first place last year. [pour la napolitaine, quatrièmes pour la romaine].

These good results are a way to restore nobility to the art of the pizza maker. It allows us to share knowledge with young people who want to get closer to the profession of a real chef, not just the guy who makes pizza.

Q: In these competitions, do you wear the colors of Canada or Italy?

R This is my approved one. I never felt like an immigrant here. I've always felt at home. So, on our competition polo shirts, there are Italy and Canada!

Question: Finally, a controversial question: for or against ham and pineapple pizza?

R If it's done well, I'm all for it. I've done this before, once on April Fool's Day, and I really liked it.

Italians eat a lot of prosciutto and fig pizza. What's the difference in this sweet and sour recipe when you replace the figs with pineapple? With good pork and grilled, slightly spicy pineapple, it could work very well!

Let's know

  • Address: 714 Rue Saint-Jean, Quebec (neighbor of Le Hobbit restaurant, in the former building of L'Échoppe – chef and grocer)
  • Information: And @morso.saint.jean in Facebook

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Notes: Portions of this interview have been edited for language and space reasons, as well as to fit the article's question-and-answer format.