Jamaican Italian chef and master “pizzaiolo,” Massimiliano “Max” Proner, is showing himself to be a pizza innovator and is creating what has been described as some of the best pizza on the planet at La Pizzeria Devon House in Kingston. True to his heritage, Chef Max uses traditional Jamaican ingredients to make his Rasta Pizza, a tasty combination of Italian crust and sauce, topped with ackee and callaloo and served with a drizzle of Scotch bonnet pepper-infused olive oil.
Truly Jamaican Flavor
Chef Max’s rasta pizza utilizes some of Jamaica’s most iconic ingredients: callaloo and ackee fruit. Callaloo is a leafy green that goes by many different names among Caribbean countries. In Jamaica, callaloo is a native green that is similar to spinach or to collard greens. The word itself originates in Caribbean Patois influenced by the African word, “kalulu.” Its use in island dishes can be traced to the original Taino residents of the region. Jamaicans generally steam callaloo with garlic, carrots, local seasonings, tomatoes, onions, pimento, thyme, and Scotch bonnet peppers, and it can be served with or without meat, in rice, or in a patty. The native ackee fruit is the national fruit of Jamaica and is a chief ingredient of the island’s national dish, ackee and saltfish. The ackee fruit is native to West Africa, and it is said that Captain William Bligh of the infamous mutiny on “The Bounty” fame, took the fruit from Jamaica and presented it to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England. The fruit is considered a delicacy and is featured in the cuisine of many Caribbean countries.
“Perfect” Combinations of Flavors and Preparation
The secret of the delicious Rasta Pizza involves the perfect blending of the perfect ingredients. After determining there was a need for a thin-crust, Roman-style pizza in Jamaica, Chef Max worked to develop a dough for the crust that was perfect for the Jamaican climate. He then experimented with new shapes and a mix of Italian and Jamaican flavors before baking the pizza in the perfect brick oven. La Pizzeria brought the most advanced, vaulted, brick oven from Italy. It was then modified to provide a rotating baking surface that can be raised and lowered via hydraulics to ensure the perfect baking environment for the crust, and the cooking time is only two minutes!
Locals Love Rasta Pizza
Comments on social media prove that the fusion of Italian and Jamaican flavors is a hit with locals on the island. Fans on Facebook post, “Love his pizza!!! I endorse it. Finally real pizza on the island and not ketchup on bread!” Chef Max’s Rasta Pizza was featured on an episode of the popular travel site davidsbeenhere.com in which entrepreneur and travel host David Hoffmann reports on the world’s best street food. Hoffmann enthusiastically encouraged diners to sample what he described as the “mindblowing” Rasta Pizza in Kingston.
Photo – DavidsBeenHere on Facebook