Pepe and Canella

The best pizza in the world? At The Cipriani A Belmond Hotel in Venice
by Fabio Marzari

Franco Pepe and Riccardo Canella combine tradition and creativity for their special pizza menu.

Over the 2022 season, the Cipriani A Belmond Hotel has been – and will be – all about innovation. After the onboarding of talented, revolutionary chef Riccardo Canella and the new manager at the Gabbiano Bar, Riccardo Semeria, the hotel management signed off a new, important cooperation with Franco Pepe, easily the best pizza maker in the world and the winner of an international competition in Amsterdam last year. This is an essential addition of Italian style that adds to the rich offer at Cipriani’s, an oasis of tranquillity and dolce vita a few minutes away from Piazza San Marco. A special pizza menu, including exclusive creations for Cipriani, has been prepared by Pepe, who owns his own restaurant in Caiazzo, in Southern Italy, and boasts miles-long waiting list.

Pepe’s international fame is owed to Jonathan Gold, a Pulitzer Prize gastronomist, who wrote: “This might be the greatest pizza in the world”. Pepe went on to be the most voted pizzaiolo in the Phaidon-published guide Where to Eat Pizza, where chefs themselves list their own favourite pizza place, and star in the Netflix series Ugly Delicious. Franco Pepe belongs to the third generation of a family of bakers. The first to set up shop in Caiazzo was his grandfather in 1938. Says the chef: “My place of birth has oftentimes been decried as impoverished and degraded. It is, in fact, a place of incredible natural resources. I have been scouring the place since childhood on my bicycle… and I know how to let my territory speak for itself through pizza. I work with great farmers and producers whose products are sought after from all over the world.” The guests at the Gabbiano Bar will enjoy a tandem menu featuring eight auteur pizzas, created by Pepe and Canella, and will be taken on a journey of taste through very different, though very special, Italian territories.