MARINA GUERRA: la focaccia

Story by Kierra S. Irvin

A small pizzeria nestled in the Piazza Matteotti of Cagli, Italy, La Focaccia brings a classy, simple, yet jazzy ambiance to Cagli. This ambiance is credited to Marina Guerra, the restaurant’s owner.

The right combination of fresh ingredients – tomatoes, salt, oil, flour and mozzarella -- is key to the delicious taste that is La Focaccia’s pizza, says Marina, who spends most of her time at the pizzeria. “There’s no one great ingredient, but you must have good flour. The secret to a good pizza is to let it rise -- the dough, that is.”

A lot of preparation, time, skill, and commitment go into making the authentic flavor that is La Focaccia’s pizza. Marina’s typical day begins when she arrives at the shop around 4 a.m. to prep the dough and other ingredients for the day. She usually leaves the shop around 8 a.m. to go to the local markets and handpick each fresh, delicious ingredient that goes into and on top of each pizza. Once she leaves the market, Marina heads home to rest before opening the shop again.

Marina returns to La Focaccia around 10 a.m., preparing for the afternoon lunch crowd. During this time, Marina preheats her oven to 325 degrees and bakes each pizza for 12 minutes pizza to a temperature of 300 degrees.

Marina works until 1:30 p.m. and closes for pausa, a three-hour afternoon break. She returns home and rests for an hour and a half before returning to the shop at 3 p.m. to prepare for the evening crowd. Marina works at the shop until 9 p.m.

Marina is a woman of few words, particularly if the conversation doesn’t involve pizza making or La Focaccia. She has owned and operated the restaurant for the past two years. Marina’s husband, Christiano, opened La Focaccia in 2007. Two years later, he was diagnosed with leukemia and died.  The pizzeria’s walls are covered with pictures of Marina and Christiano.

After Christiano’s passing in 2009, Marina decided to keep the business open and expand. She purchased the space to the left of La Focaccia and made it a indoor-dining area with tables, chairs and a restroom.  It resembles a well-lit jazz café.

The mother of a 15-year-old daughter, Marina’s life is full. “I’m always working, and don’t have much time off. I’m always here,” she says.

Marina has lived in Cagli for 15 years. She is originally from a small town about 70 kilometers northwest of Cagli called Sant’Angelo in Vado. She would like to study English in the United States, but for now, she’s content.

“My fun is shopping for pizza ingredients and sometimes visiting the beach,” she says.

Marina Guerra stands in front of La Focaccia

Marina Guerra stands in front of La Focaccia.

[Click image for slideshow]

[Watch Marina make pizza.]