What does an ER doctor know about making pizza? A lot more than you might think, as it turns out, especially after studying with master pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia in Naples.
Dr. Pat Haran and Dr. Kathryn Haran have opened Via Caravaggio 147 in Paso Robles, California, where they serve up Neapolitan pies instead of treating car wreck victims and kids with broken legs.
Fortunately, Pat already had significant restaurant experience before opening Via Caravaggio 147, reports SanLuisObispo.com. Starting in his childhood and continuing through his graduation from UCLA, he worked under a chef from Palermo, Italy, at Ottavio’s Italian Restaurant in Camarillo, California. Although he developed a passion for Italian cuisine, he eventually had to choose between a medical career and starting his own eatery. He chose medicine, earning his scrubs and stethoscope from the University of California-San Diego, but he never gave up on food.
He and Kathryn worked as emergency room physicians in the San Luis Obispo area for years. In fact, that’s how they met. Over the years, they kept pondering a plan to start a Neapolitan restaurant after their kids got out of school.
“Everything came together at the right time,” Kathryn told SanLuisObispo.com. “If we know one thing from being ER doctors, the one thing is that you may not have another opportunity.”
Kathryn has stayed in the medical field, now serving as chair of emergency medicine at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo. Meanwhile, Pat ventured off to Italy to learn a new trade from Coccia.
And if you think med school is tough, try passing an intensive two-month program in Neapolitan pizza-making. “It’s more rigorous than anything I did in medical school,” Pat said in the SanLuisObispo.com article, adding that the majority of the program’s candidates were sent home after a week or two. For his final exam, he had to make about 90 Neapolitan pizzas in one hour—all according to the very strict rules of the craft.
“He relates it to essentially one of our hardest rotations through medical school, which is trauma surgery,” Kathryn said. “It was so hardcore and academic and very structured and rigorous.”
Once the Harans opened Via Caravaggio 147, they named it after the addresses of Coccia’s famous Michelin-starred restaurants—Pizzeria La Notizia—situated at 53 Via Caravaggio and 94 Via Caravaggio in Naples. (Add 53 and 94, and you’ll get 147.)
According to the Paso Robles Daily News, their oven was made in Italy with materials from Mount Vesuvius.
Crosby Damron, the restaurant’s manager, told the Daily News that many locals have never had true Neapolitan pizza until now. “The dough is incredibly unique, handcrafted and slow fermented in-house,” he said. “Most of our ingredients are imported straight from Italy weekly, and those that are not are locally sourced for quality and freshness…Service-wise, we aim to genuinely make our guests feel like part of the family.”
Items on the Via Caravaggio 147 menu include the Rosmarino e Pistacchi (featuring fresh fior di latte mozzarella, thin-sliced red onions, rosemary, pistachios, pecorino Romano and Ligurian DOP extra-virgin olive oil); the Pizza alla Procidana (fresh mozzarella di bufala, smoked mozz, roasted cherry tomatoes, chopped garlic, oregano, parsley, basil, pecorino Romano and EVOO); and the Carne Piccante (San Marzano DOP tomatoes, fior di latte, pepperoni, freshly ground Italian sausage, chopped Calabrian chiles and Romano cheese).
The Harans said they plan to get certified by AVPN so they can promote Via Caravaggio 147 as an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria.