Published On: Fri, Jan 12th, 2018

How one man became an international pizza consultant

“I was looking to open a pizzeria that doesn’t follow the rules — it’s not strictly Italian, American or Neapolitan — and his vision aligned with my philosophy. So I asked if he would consider joining our team,” says Lalani.

So over last summer and fall, Falco worked with Lalani and General Assembly’s head chef Cale Elliott-Armstrong over emails and in person to create a kitchen and menu that would get Torontonians excited about pizza again.

Falco, isn’t a formally trained chef, but he grew up watching his Italian-American grandmother make Sicilian-style, thick-crust pizzas topped with vegetables from the backyard. He was raised a vegetarian and wasn’t allowed fast food as a child, but pizza was the exception. It gave him a sense of belonging.

“With pizza I felt like a normal person,” he says.

“A veggie burger isn’t a cheeseburger but the most basic marinara pizza is vegan.”

He started out in web design, but the food he enjoyed during his travels in Europe in 2004 inspired him to open a fry shop in Seattle. A friend opened a Neapolitan-style pizza place nearby and it reignited Falco’s fascination with pizza.

He was bartending in New York City with Chris Parachini and Brandon Hoy, two young entrepreneurs about to open a pizza place in Brooklyn, who asked Falco to be their pizza chef. Falco took his passion for pizza pie, did some research, and jumped in.

When Roberta’s opened in 2007, it became a local favourite, celebrated by critics and attracting tourists.

The key was the dough Falco helped create. It combined all-purpose flour with the Italian, finely milled 00 flour that is traditional to Neapolitan pizzas. The combination resulted in a crust with more structure and crispiness than Neapolitan pizza.

The toppings also riffed on Italian tradition. His namesake Millennium Falco pie at Roberta’s was layered with tomato sauce, bread crumbs, parmesan, olive oil, chili flakes, garlic, basil, red onion and pork sausage.

Falco took Roberta’s on the road, travelling to food festivals and pop-ups with a mobile oven.

Soon restaurateurs were asking for his pizza advice. And in 2016, with the behind-the-scenes atmosphere at Roberta’s changing, Falco saw an opportunity to move on.

“As soon as people found out I wasn’t working there anymore, the opportunities came in,” he says. “There was always a new project that needed my help.”

Falco advertises his services through his Instagram account and website ( He helps create ideal kitchen layouts, build brands and develop new pizzas by helping each pizzeria capitalize on local flavours and ingredients. He’s consulted at 14 restaurants so far and created about 50 different pies.

“The most Italian thing you can do is use the ingredients around you,” says Falco “I’ve never done an exact replica of Roberta’s pizzas and I never plan on it.”

When Falco lands in a new city, he first investigates the local food scene. In Sao Paolo, he noticed Brazilians love eggs, so he created a pie for Bráz Pizzaria that mixes egg whites with cheese. Once cooked, the yolks are drizzled on top before the pizza is served. At Bogota’s Cafe Monstruo, he topped pizzas with papas criollos, little yellow potatoes that are a Colombian staple. In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, he sourced local buffalo mozzarella, which tastes fattier and tangier than the mozzarella used in Italy.

At General Assembly, owner Lalani wanted a personal-sized, 10-inch pie with a bit more structure than the traditional Neapolitan pie, as well as toppings that, much like the city’s residents, weren’t tied to one culture or geographical location.

Falco arrived in October and got to work with General Assembly chef Elliott-Armstrong, an experienced pie-maker who worked at Terroni and Bloorcourt’s Village Pizza.

Falco started with his own sourdough starter. All the restaurants he consults with uses his starter, a tangy fermented dough that adds flavour and leavens breads and pizzas. He added Italian 00 flour and an all-purpose, high-protein Canadian flour from P & H mill in Hanover, Ont., to create the base dough. 

Inspired by the Latin food scene in Kensington Market, he created a pie topped with mozzarella, chorizo, jalapeno, cilantro, red onion, lemon drop pepper over a base of unsweetened whipped cream. This seemingly odd choice adds a subtle, luxurious taste — a trick Falco picked up from Pizzeria Beddia in Philadelphia. 

Toppings on the pies range from a vegetarian favourite called Green Pie with the unlikely but tasty combo of mozzarella, gorgonzola, lemon zest and crispy kale to the aptly named Sweet Heat, which pairs spicy salami with honey and basil.

Falco is always on the move, but he always makes himself available to his clients, who appreciate this.

“When you’re doing the volume of pizzas that we’re doing, you’re going to have oven issues and questions about the yeast and we always float these things by Anthony,” says Lalani. “He may not be here physically, but the spirit of how he approaches pizza is here.”

Next month, Falco is headed to Paris to host his own pop-up, then it’s back to Kuwait City to bring pizzas inspired by Japanese tastes to a new restaurant. (An extra pinch of salt is added to the dough before it’s baked). 

It’s a great gig, but still a gruelling chef job with 12- to 14-hour days in the kitchen. Falco however, is on a mission to make the world enjoy pizza as much as he does.

“I want to instill a sense of passion so the people I work with have fun when they make a beautiful pizza,” says Falco. “There’s not one part you can skimp on, from cooking to cutting to serving it at the right time. Pizza is a work of art.”

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How one man became an international pizza consultant