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When you think of pizza, what comes to mind? Oodles of gooey cheese? Bundles of sizzling pepperoni? Greasy, crispy crusts?

Giuseppe Gladiatore has a different vision for his pies. The owner of Alio Olio, located at Chaoyang Park’s West gate, hails from Milan in the north of Italy, and he works to bring the authentic flavors of his homeland to Beijing.

Case in point: the Alio Olio Pizza Special. This pizza is anchored by imported buffalo mozzarella— famed for its mild taste— and is topped with paper thin slices of salty, marbly Parma ham, along with heaps of arugula and a sprinkling of firm, juicy cherry tomatoes.

While his use of subtler ingredients like buffalo mozarella may not suit fans of bolder, spicier American-style pizzas, for connoisseurs of the true Italian style, it’s just right.

Those leafy Mediterranean greens and tomatoes give the pizza a distinctly fresh flavor. Gladiatore adds that the arugula is quite popular in Italy as a side salad or on pizzas. “It’s healthier, because you’re joining salad with pizza, instead of focusing on a lot of meats for the toppings,” he says.

The crust on the Alio Olio Special, meanwhile, is thin without being crispy, featuring a more chewy texture than one might expect (this is a pleasant surprise). A scant layer of sauce suits the pie’s overall minimalism.

That’s not to say that Alio Olio won’t avoid bolder flavors: Gladiatore says that next month he will add additional toppings like roasted potato slices and beef sausage, which he says will add a nice contrast to the mild buffalo mozzarella.

“Our buffalo is 100 percent imported,” he says, a rarity in Beijing. “There’s a Chinese company that makes buffalo cheese, but we get ours from Napoli. It’s a very famous cheese used all over the south of Italy, because it’s of the highest quality.”

Alio Olio cooks their pizzas in a wood-fired oven which customers can clearly see through glass panes at the back of the restaurant. Aside from that authentic stove, Alio Olio extends a cozy ‘Little Italy’ vibe with a fireplace in the far corner, wooden rafters, a spiral stair case onto its loft-like second floor, and curious (but nevertheless charming) 1980s Italian pop songs playing over the speakers.

Pizzas are just one part of Alio Olio’s Italian menu, which is highlighted by fresh-made pasta and an extensive dessert list. Most impressive of all is the restaurant’s roster of wines, which features Alio Olio’s own house red and white, dozens of Italian varieties, and more than 25 other choices from around the world, all of which add up to endless opportunities for pairing.


Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog