When chic meets tradition. Bon vivant and ex-Formula 1 manager Flavio Briatore is under fire. Italy's traditional bakers are publicly protesting against his "disrespect for the Italian soul".
From the beginning: Under the name "Crazy Pizza", Briatore has recently started offering pizza in Via Veneto in Rome. The most expensive pizza on the menu costs a whopping 65 euros, with a few slices of luxury Pata Negra ham on top. A pizza with truffles costs 49 euros, a simple Margherita pizza 15 euros.
Briatore's vision: with places like "Crazy Pizza", pizza would get a new their lost class back. Why he wants to give class back to the Italian pizza with Spanish noble ham remains open. It also remains unclear why he chose an English name that is reminiscent of fast food.
Briatore's restaurant is to become a chain on the Italian mainland. So far, the entrepreneur has only one branch in Sardinia, and recently one in Milan - as well as in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Monaco, and two in London. A new opening in Qatar is imminent. Not classic countries for the rescue of Italian pizza, one would think.
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Briatore's gourmet posturing makes the traditional pizza makers of Naples extremely angry. "Pizza is a dish of popular tradition. It has fed whole generations and helped overcome the most serious crises - from war to the cholera epidemic," said Sergio Miccú, president of the "Associazione Pizzaiouli Napoletani", the Naples Pizza Makers Association.
Briatore's pomposity is a "disregard for the Italian soul and culture". A Pizza Margherita must be offered at an affordable price. In Naples, it costs four to five euros on average. In protest, pizzerias in Naples' old town even gave away free pizza a few days ago.
Criticism leaves the self-proclaimed "pizza saviour" Briatore cold. He even insinuates: "What ingredients do you use to keep the prices so low?" The entrepreneur with the playboy hairdo announces that he wants to open a restaurant in Naples soon.
More and more well-known chefs in Italy are publicly criticising Briatore. Italy's most famous pizza chef Gino Sorbello demands: "Everyone must have the right to a simple pizza."
The debate is in full swing on social media. The entrepreneur is getting a lot of headwind - even below the belt. His compatriots obviously do not share his opinion. And Briatore?
The ex-Formula 1 manager recently claimed on "La Zanzara" on Radio24: "They're just using me to do publicity." He himself doesn't like pizza from Naples, as he explained immediately afterwards: "It has too much yeast and dough."
The PR professional knows how to keep the discussion going. In the end, it's all publicity for his business. This calls for a long continuation of the dispute....
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Cover photo/montage - archive photo of Briatore (2009): Nicolas Genin / CC-BY-SA-2.0; Ziga Plahutar/Getty Images Signature via canva.com (Pizza)