'Real' pizza: Focaccia focuses on fresh, local, authentic

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  • | 4:00 a.m. September 20, 2013
Focaccia owners Alexia Tarantino and Dario Carbone hope to bring a little bit of Rome to Palm Coast. PHOTOS BY SHANNA FORTIER
Focaccia owners Alexia Tarantino and Dario Carbone hope to bring a little bit of Rome to Palm Coast. PHOTOS BY SHANNA FORTIER
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When you walk through the doors at Palm Coast’s newest eatery, Focaccia, you are instantly treated as family. And what do Italians want for their family? To feed them authentic, fresh and delicious food.
That’s what owners Alexia Tarantino and her fiancé Dario Carbone want for their guests, who they intend on knowing by name.

The couple moved to Palm Coast from Rome in May to be closer to family, but the process of turning an empty space in the Nikzad Plaza into the custom space it is now started long before that. They had been visiting Alexia’s mother and sister in Palm Coast for the past six years and have seen the growth. They were looking for a small space, something with natural light that would remind them of the spaces in Rome. They leased the unit at 85 Cypress Point Parkway last December and then had to travel back to Rome until their visas came through.

From the time of purchase until May, when they could make their move, Dario, who has a master’s degree in design, made digital replicas of the space right down to the lighting.

But more important than the space and the atmosphere is the food. The food is what it’s really all about. It’s the type of food that even when you are full you keep going in for more.

With the opening coming next week, calling what they make "pizza" has already caused some controversy for the owners because it is so different from what people in the states are used to calling pizza.

The made-from-scratch focaccia dough gives light and airy bread, which is then topped with simple ingredients: fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and olive oil; tomato sauce by itself; mozzarella, mushroom and sausage; and one of the more uncommon toppings in America, but which is traditional in Italy —potato — along with olive oil and rosemary.

The focaccia bread will also be used for sandwiches and desserts. It can be filled with everything from ham to Nutella.

The idea behind the food is simple: fresh ingredients. You should be able to taste each individual ingredient, and you can. And what better way to stay fresh than to use local produce.

Eager to use regional vegetables, the couple connected with a few farmers in the western part of Flagler County to purchase directly from them. This partnership will not only follow their farm-to-table philosophy, it will also allow them to change their menu with the seasons. But one of the main ingredients, they said,needs to come from Italy. All their olive oil will come from Alexia’s cousin in Italy, who makes olive oil.

In the evenings, lights at Focaccia will be dimmed and the space will resemble more of a wine bar (Italian wine only) and finger foods (in Italy called "aperitivo") will be served. With this, they hope to introduce a little bit more of Italian culture.

With big plans for their eatery, Alexia and Dario know that there will still be challenges. They hope that the people in Palm Coast will have an open mind and welcome their family and their food, just as they intend to welcome them.

“They have been eating pizza like this in Italy for 2,000 years,” Dario said.

Now, the people of Palm Coast will be able to share in the authenticity of true Italian pizza.



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