There are three things that make food taste amazing: fresh ingredients, skillful preparation, and deep enthusiasm. A Mano restaurant in Ridgewood recently hosted a hands-on mozzarella-making class that featured step-by-step instruction in crafting delicious fresh cheese. The enthusiasm ingredient was supplied, in abundance, by the instructor, Mr. Michael Losurdo, founder and president of Losurdo Foods, Inc., as well as A Mano owner Fred Mortati.
As part of the restaurant’s ongoing series of educational and entertaining culinary events, the class was designed to introduce attendees to the techniques involved in taking cheese curds from their raw form to irresistibly smooth and delectable mozzarella in various shapes and sizes. Mr. Losurdo, a renowned leader in the food industry, made it look easy, flowing through the steps with practiced turns of the wrist and a constant flow of gentle Italian-flavored humor. He and his experienced colleague, Pasquale Guarella, offered an overview of mozzarella’s culinary history, outlined the basics of crafting homemade cheese, and then invited guests to roll up their sleeves and slide their hands into hot, milky water to try it for themselves. The result? Mozzarella Amazeballs!
Here’s a visual recap of the process.
Mr. Mortati, who opened A Mano (meaning “by hand”) in 2007 with the goal of introducing authentic Neapolitan pizza to North Jersey food lovers, has fresh mozzarella made by hand daily in his kitchen. This, in tandem with the hand-built wood-fired ovens and directly imported Italian ingredients his staff use, is how he fulfills his commitment to recreating the experience of eating fresh dishes just as they are served in Naples. In fact, A Mano is one of only a select few restaurants in the U.S. that carry certification by the two Italian governing associations, Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana and Associazone Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, designating its pizza as truly authentic Neapolitan.
“Artisanal is a buzzword these days,” Mortati notes. “It’s becoming a fad. But it’s really about taking it back to the basics.” Bringing in a master like Mr. Losurdo to give people a personal experience is one way he enjoys making a connection with customers and sharing his own passion about the food. Working with Losurdo Foods is a delight, he explains, because “they’re really great about sharing their trade secrets. They’re so proud of their heritage.”
Perfecting the art of making fresh mozzarella will surely take some practice without this kind of expert guidance in your kitchen, but it is well worth the effort. The taste is glorious and the process pretty fun. If you’d like to sample some of the amazing stuff as inspiration, head to A Mano for a bubbling pizza fresh from the oven and taste the difference for yourself.
24 Franklin Avenue (at the corner of Chestnut Street)
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Mon – Thurs: 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Fri – Sat: 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sun: 12:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Deanna Quinones is the Jersey Bites Regional Editor for Morris County. A freelance writer, blogger, and unrepentant chocolate addict, Deanna spent 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area where life was good and the burritos even better. She recently returned to the Garden State and now resides in Morristown, where she and her Texas-born/Jersey-raised/California-found husband are raising two wild and wonderful kids. An experienced book marketer, award-winning greeting card writer, and entertainment writing dabbler, Deanna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. (photo credit Pete Genovese/The Star-Ledger)