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MidiCi was inspired by founder Amit Kleinberger’s travels through Naples as he sought to bring together the purity, passion, flavor history and art of Neapolitan pizza to people in Los Angeles. Meaning ‘You tell me!’ in Italian, MidiCi represents the core value of the restaurant – people telling each other about their lives and fostering friendships, bringing friends together and promoting genuine interactions. Paying homage to the 300-year-old craft of Neapolitan pizza-making, the restaurant uses traditional wood-fired ovens hand built in Naples with an internal temperature of 800 to 1000 degrees to bake pizzas to perfection in just 90 seconds. The original MidiCi opened in Sherman Oaks in 2015, and Kleinberger forecasts opening 350 additional restaurants over the next five years in key markets.
Before having the chance to speak to Head Chef Peppe Miele, Kleinberger delved a little more into his inspiration to open MidiCi.
Amit, what was your inspiration to open MidiCi?
I always had a passion for people and food. When I discovered Neapolitan pizza and traveled to Naples, I fell in love with the experience and culture behind the art of Neapolitan pizza making. I wanted to bring this unique cuisine to people in America in a way that preserves the flavor, passion, history, tradition, beauty, inspiration, and essence of Neapolitan pizza and, most importantly, in a format that supports my passion for people. As such, we embarked on a long journey of four years of building a brand that is all focused on the vision of making the world a friendlier place. To do so, we set a mission to build a restaurant that brings friends together because people are the best thing to happen to anyone, and what better way to bring friends together than over authentic, real, quality, and better-for-you food, which is our Neapolitan pizza, and celebrate it with friends around the table? That is the essence of MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company.
Why the name MidiCi?
MidiCi means ‘You tell me!’ in Italian, reflecting the concept’s core value of people telling each other about their lives and fostering friendships. In addition, MidiCi reflects a double entendre. It stands for the social aspect of telling your friends about your life and also telling our chefs exactly how you want your food, and we will personalize your Neapolitan pizza to your liking.
After speaking with Amit, Head Chef Peppe Miele and I got a chance to talk about food and his inspirations.
When did you start cooking? How has your Italian background influenced you?
I started cooking at a young age with my mother and transitioned into it as a profession in my early 20s. The Italian food culture is filled with history and passion. It is 100 years old. I grew up in a culture where food and cooking is an integral part of every day, and meals are a social event. Food brings people together in Italy, and great food is something that we Italians value greatly.
What was your inspiration for MidiCi’s menu? Your culinary background?
Quality ingredients, authentic recipes. Simplicity is the ultimate complexity – making simple food taste great is harder than making complex food taste great.
What is the ONE cooking item you can’t be without?
A great chef knife is always my best tool.
Describe the restaurant, the tree inside and the menu.
The restaurant is beautiful, traditional and classic. It has a timeless Italian design that appeals to all ages and make you feel like you’re in Naples. The materials are authentic and rustic, and everything is designed to bring people and friends together. The tree is a real 50-year-old olive tree that celebrates nature and beauty within the restaurant.
What is your favorite dish to make and eat?
What is the most popular menu item?
Well, there are a couple. The Pizza Margherita, our Double Pepperoni Pizza (Doppio Pepperoni), house-made meatballs and the Purple Kale and Ricotta Salad, which is comprised of purple kale, baby spinach, Medjool dates, fresh ricotta cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh lemon zest and a mustard vinaigrette dressing.
Pasta or pizza? Neapolitan pizza
Pesto or Marinara? Marinara
Caprese or Caesar? Caprese
Gelato or Tiramisu? Gelato
Favorite non-Italian cuisine? French