Valerio Violetti, the modern fairy tale of a pizza maker and popular TikToker
Article and Photos from Moretti Forni
Valerio Violetti, web-star of the moment, has been living in Australia for almost a decade. He has Neapolitan origins and a lot of passion for the most popular Italian food abroad: pizza. Hard work, commitment and perseverance did the rest, transforming him into a true professional. In this interview we will go through his evolution, closely tied to our S series.
How does your Australian adventure begin?
When I was in Italy I enjoyed making pizza for friends, so when I moved here I decided to turn my passion into a real job. At the beginning, I worked at San Domenico Pizza bar in Richmond with Moretti S series double deck oven, in the upper deck I used to bake pizza, while the lower deck was exclusively dedicated to gastronomy.
In this pizzeria I was lucky enough to work with the 2016 World Pizza Champion, Andrea Cozzolino, a great teacher for me and now one of my closest friends.
Later I moved to Melbourne and arrived at T17 Pizza, the place where I still work. Here too, luckily, I found another S series by Moretti Forni, a reference point in the pizza makers world.
Which and how many products do you make with S series?
T17 Pizza is a cozy pizzeria in Melbourne neighborhood, of ca. 30 seats. We have a few seats but we work a lot with delivery. With only one deck we bake an average of 100 pizzas per evening, with peaks reaching 180.
95% of our offer is pizza but we also make a lot of gastronomy dishes like gnocchi, lasagna, meatballs… in the restaurant we do not have any hob, so I actually use the oven for everything: sweet potatoes, courgettes, aubergines, etc. When I arrive around 2 pm, I set the oven to 200°C and start cooking the gastronomy, then at 5 pm the service starts and I make the temperature rise quickly
After using it for the whole evening at 430°C, at the end of service I put the lamb in the oven, marinated with wine and herbs, seal it well and cook it with the oven off. It keeps the lamb warm until the next day when I find it perfect, with a tender, buttery texture! I also use it as pizza topping, which Aussies really like.
Let’s talk about your pizza: what settings do you use?
Mine is a contemporary Neapolitan pizza, it could be defined as “alternative Neapolitan“, very hydrated, made with biga and doughs that differ from the standard school. The perfect heat allows me to obtain a tastier and more fragrant product, crispy outside and soft inside. I use S series with refractory surface and I really push it to the maximum: I set it at 430° – 435°C 0% deck, 100% top, this allows me to get a perfect pizza, just as I want it.
Among the various programs and settings available, I chose the separate management of ceiling and deck, in order to calibrate the heat according to the workload. I start from 0% deck and 100% top and then remodel according to the number of pizzas baked. The oven is practically always on at very high temperatures and in 5 years we have only done a couple of routine maintenance. I am and we are really satisfied.
What about the toppings?
Due to force majeure, I have embraced some “local” habits, but I try to spread the Italian taste as much as possible, offering simple toppings with high quality ingredients, which customers appreciate. In fact, recently, for the second year in a row, the Herald Sun – among the most popular publications in Australia, ed.- named us the best pizzeria in Whitehorse – a very large area – dedicating a very interesting article to us.
How did you become a TikToker?
The real influencer in the house is my wife, Annapaola, who is a “sfoglina” – a person who makes pasta, ed.-supplying fresh pasta to the best restaurants in Melbourne and also has her personal recipe blog. For me, it all started just for fun: Annapaola had already many followers, so I too made a run in the social media. I enjoy it and it comes easy because I also have a background as a theatre actor.
My TikTok account, on the other hand, arises from the need to follow my children, to check that they are not in danger on the net. Then I tried making videos and in a completely random and unexpected way I reached 1.5 million views.
How do you find inspiration for your contents? What is the relationship with your followers?
In my videos I refer to everyday life, to what happens around me, to the many pizzas I bake, to the most delicious ingredients and often the “partner” of these sketches is the oven. Many followers ask me for advice and recipes, they appreciate what I do. Of course, I am very happy to receive their attention, but I must admit that when my videos went viral it was not easy to manage all the comments, messages, because I do everything myself and is becoming a real second job.
How important is it for your job as pizza maker to communicate on social media?
Is crucial. My followers also give me the energy and encouragement to think about realising the project of a place of my own, where I can fully express myself. Since I became famous on Instagram and TikTok, for example, the pizzeria where I work has also tripled the customers overnight, every day. By working hard, I have achieved great results, increasing the incomes from 2k to 13k Australian dollars per week.