For Harry Malhi, the appeal of Italian cuisine has as many layers as an old-school Napoli lasagne.
"I love the simplicity of traditional recipes and using fresh ingredients in every dish, whether it's antipasti, pizza or pasta," he told Food & Wine.
"Learning how to make every dish from scratch is fun for me; doing research about the background of dishes, like when and how the dish originated.
"I feel more connected to the dish reading the heritage about it. For example, Pizza Margherita was invented by chef Raffaele, and he was inspired by the three colours of the Italian flag: red (tomato), white (for di latte), and green (basil) for queen Margherita of Savoy.
"Every Italian dish has its own rich history and values."
Malhi opened In Forno, an Italian restaurant, on Beaumont Street in Hamilton late last year. He completed a diploma in hospitality in 2009 however this is his first restaurant.
He prides himself on his pizza dough.
"I was amazed when I first saw a pizzaiolo (pizza chef) tossing pizza dough in their hands and putting it in a woodfired oven," Malhi said.
"I started working in my first Italian restaurant in 2005 and it was there that I began to learn to make pizza, and I have been perfecting my method ever since.
"It is my passion to get a better result with the right fermentation of my dough every day. For me, pizza dough is not just the mixture of the two ingredients, water and flour; it's a whole process which should be followed step by step."
He uses a method that he says "must be followed exactly in order to get consistently good results". Not giving too much away, it's a case of using "a mixture of the right types of flour, understanding hydration level in the dough, and making sure it is being proofed at the right temperature".
"Nothing can be frozen or old. We only use fresh ingredients: fresh cheese for di latte and buffalo mozzarella, as well as fresh and baked vegetables. These are the key for my pizzas."
In addition to pizzas, the fully-licensed In Forno offers a selection of fresh-made pastas and starters and has just introduced a breakfast menu. Food preferences and allergies are catered for, and there are plenty of gluten-free and vegan options.
Malhi worked hard to give his restaurant a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and says with pride that one Italian customer told him his pizza "took her back to being a little girl in Naples".
"We have an amazing team of servers and chefs who appreciate the authentic food we make and strive to make each person who walks through our doors feel like they have been transported to Italy."
In Forno is open daily, 7.30am to 10pm, at 79-81 Beaumont Street, Hamilton. Phone 4961 0079 to book.
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