When Naples-born Edouard Freda moved to New York as an adolescent, he was perplexed to discover that Neapolitan-style pizza was not exactly as ubiquitous as he’d hoped. “In Italy, it’s on every street corner,” says Freda, now 26, who managed to graduate from Georgetown University on a steady diet of Domino’s. But his unwavering passion for the Margherita remained, and while working in the marketing department at Chanel, Freda found his fate forever altered when he toured his uncle’s new pizzificio in Naples. The ambition there was no less than to create the world’s most delicious—and exportable—Neapolitan pizza. Freda joined the team, and the Talia di Napoli brand was born.
“Who is Berta? The Cow!”
But there were a few requirements—each pie must be handmade by master pizzaioli using local ingredients and devoid of preservatives, additives, and G.M.O.’s. “If you source some of the ingredients from the North of Italy, people in Naples wouldn’t consider you legitimate, because all the farmers know one another, and they know what you’re buying,” says Freda. “We only work with small, local farms. On some mornings in the early days, the mozzarella would show up, and it would only be 60 percent of what we ordered. They’d say, ‘Oh, Berta is sick.’ Who is Berta? The cow!”
Freda and his team have perfected eight varieties—Margherita (both classic and gluten-free), bianca, primavera (with smoked mozzarella and cherry tomatoes), friarella, which shows off Campagnia’s local broccoli rabe, four cheese, vegetariana, and tartufina. The factory produces 4,000 pizzas each weekday, and employs 20 highly trained pizzaioli. “For the first few months, they only cut tomatoes,” says Freda. “Then they get to touch a pizza, and, eventually, become a chef.”
Flash-Frozen to Transport Luxury
But Freda’s biggest challenge was logistical. How to ship these beauties to grocers and homes across the pond? Enter cryogenics. Immediately after the pizzas are baked in wood-fired ovens, they are flash-frozen to four degrees below zero, ensuring that the product’s quality remains intact. “We call it ‘the sleeping pizza,’” explains Freda, who named his brand after the Italian fairy tale (Sun, Moon, and Talia) that partly inspired Sleeping Beauty. After approximately eight minutes in a 400-degree oven, a direct-from-Italy dinner can be served at tables across much of the U.S. and Europe. “Our pricing is higher than any other frozen pizza,” says Freda, whose pies max out at $15 each. “But no one else does this. We use freezing to transport luxury, rather than minimize damage.” —Ashley Baker
Talia di Napoli pizzas may be ordered at taliadinapoli.com