MADISON — Beating out more than 90 competitors, Joe Carlucci was recently named the best pizzamaker … in the WORLD.
And mama mia! Bronx-born Carlucci is owner and founder of the Original Valentina’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar on Huntsville Brownsferry Road in Madison.
His titles as Best Pizza Maker and Best Non-traditional Pizza came at the recent International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.
Carlucci said he has been making pizzas since he was 15, and for the past 20 years he has been mentored by 14-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani. So, as good as Carlucci is, he gives all the credit to Gemignan,. who he said helped him “become one of the pioneers in the pizza industry.”
Carlucci won last year for Best Traditional Style Pizza in the World and he is a five-time World Pizza Champion; two-time Guinness World Record Holder; three-time World Champion Pizza Acrobat; and he has won awards in competitions worldwide.
Even more fun for his customers, he has appeared on national TV shows such as “Today,” “Martha & Snoop,” “Master Chef Kids,” and “Best In Dough.”
Carlucci’s winning non-traditional pizza consisted of lobster, crab and mango. It is not yet on the Valentina menu but he said to “stay tuned” for a limited edition dine-in special.
For Pizza Maker of the Year, Carlucci said he used mystery ingredients for a white pie topped with a mozzarella cheese blend, a sweet sausage and soppressata mixture. There’s a honey peppadew-infused ricotta and it’s topped with chiffon spinach.
Spicy sopressata is Italian dried salami but, since he had used sweet Italian sausage, Carlucci said he wanted to mix in the spicy sopressata to balance it out.
The honey peppadews are small red or yellow peppers that are mostly sweet but have a slight tinge of heat. Some call them “sweet piquanté,” meaning “so sweet and a little spicy.”
Called the “Our Town” for the podcast of the same name, the pie will be on the menu.
Carlucci is humble about his success.
“When you let God drive your bus, anything is possible,” he said.
What makes his pizza’s so creatively good?
“He plays around with ingredients all the time,” said Camryn Suggs who works at Valentina’s.