When Franco Pepe’s grandfather Ciccio opened a bakery in the small city of Caiazzo, Caserta in 1931, no one would have guessed it would turn into the most famous pizzeria in the world. Nearby Naples is the traditional home of pizza, but with a dedication to the kilometro zero movement, sourcing almost every ingredient from the immediate area, Franco has turned this rural area into a destination for diners worldwide.
Franco learnt everything he could from his father, Stefano, who used to spend days in the local countryside picking fresh ingredients like oregano and mushrooms to put on top of pizza. Every time the dough was made there were no scales, recipes, machinery or ready-made ingredients involved; but because Franco watched his father create it from scratch thousands of times over, he didn’t even need to write anything down to learn how the dough should feel when it’s ready.
Franco opened his restaurant Pepe in Grani in 2005, just round the corner from his grandfather’s bakery. At the time, Caiazzo was not particularly known for its food, but thanks to the popularity of the pizzeria and Franco’s work with agronomist Vincenzo Coppola, the surrounding area has become famous for its artisanal producers, particularly its olive oil. The ingredients used to make the pizzas come almost exclusively from these local suppliers, particularly the oil, mozzarella, chickpeas and pork.