Jimmy’s Pizza & Grill hosts interactive lesson for Primavera students

(l-r) Owners Monica DiDomenico, Jimmy DiDomenico, program co-sponsor Councilman Jimmy Vacca, Nicholas Leone, Gino Gallella, Steven Von Kessel, Zaino.
Photo by Laura Stone

Jimmy DiDomenico, owner of Jimmy’s Pizza & Grill on Bruckner Boulevard, wanted to help the students from the Primavera Italian language program learn about pizza. So h instead of having the kids watch him make the food, why not let them make their own?

“It’s not that much fun to watch someone else make a pie,” he said.

So on two Saturdays; December 3 and December 10, Jimmy’s hosted half of the students in the Primavera program, where they learned how to make their own versions of Italy’s most famous native dish.

Students started with their own chunks of dough, which they kneaded and flavored to their own personal preference witn mozzarella and tomato sauce.

The experience was part of a lesson plan for the students, most of whom are in fifth and sixth grades, about the Italian origins of pizza.

“It was fun,” said 11-year-old Primavera students Angelina Zervos. “Because we all got to make our very own, and we got to learn about the history of pizza before we actually went.”

But the best part for Angelina?

“Probably eating the pizza,” she said.

Students learned that the modern form of pizza originated in Naples in the 18th century. It did not look much like the slices on thin dough that New Yorkers are used to; it was rounded dough with cheese, oil, garlic and anchovies.

Even today, Italian and European pizza is different from what the students made.

“It’s nothing like Italy’s,” said Loretta Zaino, coordinator of the Primavera program. “The difference is Italy’s is a thicker dough, it’s a fresh tomato sauce. Everything is different. It’s more hearty, so to speak.”

But the pizza-making outing was a great chance for Zaino to enhance her classroom lessons.

“It started because we wanted kids to visualize what we were discussing,” she said. “We wanted them to see pizza being made.”

Zaino frequently orders from Jimmy’s for her her class, so when she approached DiDomenico about the pizza-making workshop, he suggested letting the students make their own, as opposed to just watching.

The entire program has 75 students, so they were split up into two groups for each visit to Jimmy’s.

And although those days are a little more hectic than most for DiDomenico, he has not minded the companionship.

“Just as much as the kids like making their own pizza, we enjoyed the company,” he said.

Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at bweisbrod@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394.

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