Back in college, I worked in an Italian restaurant during my summers. It was a great gig- I loved the restaurant, the people I worked with and most definitely the food. In fact, the Calatini came from this restaurant, and there’s one pasta dish in particular that I aim to perfect making soon so that I can share it with you.
The work could get hard and chaotic and sometimes things would get downright feisty in the kitchen – usually when orders were all backed up. If you’ve never had a small-but-formidable Italian woman yell at you, it’s not an experience I would suggest you go search out. But I really loved it there. Through all the eye rolls and snarky comments, we were own little restaurant family – and anyone that has worked in a restaurant before can tell you that’s exactly what its like.
The real fun comes towards the end of the night, when food is made to go, or leftover prepped food is eaten during cleanup. But hands down, the best nights were the rare ones when there was leftover pizza dough- Freddie would make an olive oil and garlic pizza and Gina would make Zeppoles. Now, not many people seem to have heard of Zeppoles, but if you can imagine a doughnut and an elephant ear getting busy together, you pretty much have the concept of the pastry down. Balls of dough (in this case, pizza dough) are quickly fried so they beautifully puff up and then immediately get dusted with powdered sugar. They are phenomenal, especially hot out of the oil.
I had purchased some fresh pizza dough from Publix and then never got around to making the pizza I had in mind. Not wanting the dough to go to waste, I decided to do as we did back then and make some Zeppoles for everyone. I threw a saucepan of oil on my grill burner, heated it up and 10 minutes later I had a beautiful tray of snowy white Zeppoles.
And they were just as good as I remember.
- 1 pound pizza dough
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Confectioner's sugar
- Pull off portions of dough and roll into 1½" balls. Line a plate with paper towels.
- Fill a saucepan with oil to a depth of 2". Heat to 350F.
- Add 4-5 balls of dough to the oil and fry until puffed up and golden brown, turning as necessary to prevent burning.
- Remove the zeppoles to the paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.