Artisans With Hands In The Dough: The Roman “Pinsa”

“Pin­sa ‘m po’!” A tasty idea invi­tes you to enter the venue run by Vin­cen­za Mari­nel­li and her sons Pao­lo Andrea and Ales­sio in Via dei Grac­chi, cros­sing via Otta­via­no in the ele­gant district of Pra­ti in Roma. They have taken up the grandfather’s lega­cy and now their fami­ly coun­ts almo­st 60 years of acti­vi­ty in tic­kling the pala­tes of roman resi­den­ts and tou­rists, just a few blocks from Saint Peter’s Dome. 

Good mor­ning Vin­cen­za, your venue has a long sto­ry indeed, and in the last few years it has been tran­sfor­med, pro­po­sing a reci­pe that dates back down­right to the ancient Romans. What are the rea­sons that moved the three of you to under­ta­ke this acti­vi­ty? What’s your story?

“Pin­sa ‘m pò” is our lit­tle venue, I am Vin­cen­za, the hol­der (and the tin­ker), my son Pao­lo Andrea is the chef, whi­le my other son Ales­sio is the sales mana­ger and… the histo­ry enthu­sia­st. In 1964 my father ope­ned a bake­ry here; when he reti­red, we have car­ried on his lega­cy and tur­ned the bake­ry into a deep-dish piz­za pla­ce, whe­re we have wor­ked for more than 20 years! In order to attract new clien­ts, and pro­po­se a new pro­duct that could meet the new gene­ra­tions’ tastes, my sons have deci­ded to chan­ge again and mix toge­ther tra­di­tion and inno­va­tion… and here it is the Pinsa!

But whe­re does the “pin­sa” come from? Is it true that it was one of the most appre­cia­ted food in ancient Roma?

The name “pin­sa” comes from the Latin word “pin­se­re”, which means “stretch” as it is the sha­pe of some focac­ce made of mile, bar­ley and spelt knead and sold on some big woo­den tables at the gates of Roma.

How a “pin­sa” is made? What are the ingre­dien­ts, and the coo­king procedure?

We use blends of rice flour, soy and wheat, that make the pro­duct highly dige­sti­ble and fla­vo­red; for the top­pings, we choo­se only sea­so­nal ingre­dien­ts. The pro­cee­ding for a good pin­sa requi­res plen­ty of time and care, from the pre­pa­ra­tion of the dou­gh, that needs to ripen in the frid­ge for 48/72 hours at the same tem­pe­ra­tu­re, to the sha­ping of the lit­tle balls. The balls in turn must rise for seve­ral hours befo­re they can be stret­ched out, blan­ched for a few minu­tes, and, once coo­led, stuf­fed and again put in the sto­ve to com­ple­te the cooking.

A true deli­ca­cy: but which one is the most popu­lar? Which one is the most…sought-after?

We have a lot of reci­pes… too long to be listed: the red pin­se, the whi­te ones and also the ‘pin­se gour­met’, among which the­re are the ‘Red Sap­phi­re’, ‘Chi­co­ry and Pears’, ‘Gran­ny Smith’, ‘Bacon and Endi­ve’… For sure, and as good romans we can’t be but proud of them, the most popu­lar remains the ‘car­bo­na­ra’ and the ‘ama­tri­cia­na’, may­be tasted along­si­de a good lit­tle orga­nic bier.

Cer­tain­ly, the pan­de­mic must have impac­ted your acti­vi­ty… It’s sad to see the bar­stools lay­ing upsi­de down on the tables…

It’s com­mon kno­w­led­ge, the loc­k­do­wn has hea­vi­ly dama­ged the cate­ring acti­vi­ties. We have lost 80, 90 per­cent of our ear­nings. One year ago, befo­re the pan­de­mic, we used to have three wor­kers with us: now they are in layoffs and…  still wai­ting for the sub­si­dy.  With the deli­ve­ry and the takea­way, the three of us are try­ing to pay at lea­st the ren­tal and utilities….

In short, the situa­tion is real­ly com­pli­ca­ted. But 2021 may final­ly bring us back to nor­mal… Do you have in mind a pro­ject to re-launch your acti­vi­ty, yet? 

Let us hope that in 2021 eve­ry­bo­dy can be back to nor­mal and we will throw our­sel­ves again into work with the usual pas­sion that has always distin­gui­shed us.

Via dei Grac­chi, 7 – ROMA
Con­se­gna a domi­ci­lio: 06/88980716 – 3291021779
Insta­gram: pinsa_mpo