The Rockpool Files

William Baffoni: a master pizza maker


William Baffoni has mastered the art of the traditional Neapolitan pizza.

At just 13 years old, William finished his first year of culinary school in his small and bustling home town of Porto Sant’Elpidio in central Italy.

It was here, while working alongside an inspiring, old-school pizza chef at local restaurant Ciak Brasserie, that his passion for pizza making was truly ignited.

After finishing his Diploma in 2006, William packed up his apron and moved to London to learn more tricks of the pizza-making trade.

He found work at a wood-fired pizza restaurant on the edge of Notting Hill where he specialised in making Roman-style pizza – thin, crispy and simple.

Fratelli Fresh Head Chef William Baffoni
Fratelli Fresh Head Chef William Baffoni

After three years of working in a small, independent kitchen, William decided to make a jump to something bigger. In 2010 he began working for Shoreditch House, part of the world-renowned private members’ club Soho House.

William’s experience at Shoreditch House allowed him to grow professionally and artistically, but two years on it was time for him to conquer a different style of pizza: the Neapolitan!

While working at East London’s Sodo Pizza Café, William learned how to make a base using the natural sourdough process. The true Neapolitan uses this, which results in a thin layer of crispness to the crust and a moist, cloud-like interior that’s chewy and bursting with flavour.

At 26-years-old William craved a new challenge, so in 2014 he jetted half-way around the world and settled on the shores of Sydney. He started working at The Argyle before transferring to another Rockpool Dining Group venue, Fratelli Fresh, in 2016.

William has since used his diverse culinary knowledge to develop the menu and experiment with sourdough-making techniques.

“The fermented sourdough process is what differentiates Fratelli Fresh pizzas: we use our own natural fermentation,” William explains.

William says the best way to judge a pizza is by its crust. “The crust never lies. It tells if the fermentation, to create sourdough, has been done properly.”

“At Fratelli our fermentation takes 36-48 hours, which creates a very, light base. The water we add to the dough is between 20°C and 25°C in temperature, never higher, as we want the fermentation to go slowly, which helps create those big bubbles in the crust.

William likes to use San Marzano tomato sauce, Buffalo Mozzarella, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil to top off his perfectly poufy sourdough base.

“The combination of a Neopolitan-style base and Margherita toppings are the components of a perfect pizza,” he says. “But creating the perfect pizza is the Holy Grail for most pizzaioli: we’re always striving to be better.”