Recently, one of our customers left us a positive Google review but was questioning our use of glass tumblers to serve our wine vs. the more well-known long stem wine glasses. Perhaps if they’d had known about the art of sprezzatura, their 4-star review may have easily tipped over into a fiver.
As our Head Pizzaiolo Chris Olsen stated in his recent interview on the Stop Winging It podcast, we get to “talk to people and play with food all day long”. So, we figure we’d take this opportunity to combine those two pastimes and wax poetic about our choice of glass, and in doing so, share a well-recognized but often overlooked characteristic of Italian lifestyle and dining: sprezzatura.
What is sprezzatura?
The word sprezzatura has been used for centuries to describe a certain kind of attitude that encompasses clothing style, one’s demeanor, and dining atmosphere. It’s Italian for “easy” or “unstrained,” and is often translated as “studied nonchalance”.
Sprezzatura has been defined as the art of appearing effortless. It’s about making the difficult look easy, and doing so with style.
It’s about being confident without appearing arrogant, and being humble without appearing weak.
In many cultures the definition of sprezzatura has been extended to include the art of dining, as it is done in Italy. Just think back to scenes in “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Under The Tuscan Sun” and you will quickly nod your head in earnest agreement as you recall the sprezzatura attitude being cinematically portrayed.
It is perhaps this nonchalant dining attitude that draw people to visit Italy for honeymoons and extended vacations. “Eat our way through Italy” is a common platitude rife in our vernacular, and while, yes, we can’t deny the nostalgia one feels from this saying (even if you have never been to Italy) we’d love to see the art of sprezzatura become as conventional and affectionately embraced when dining on your own.
The History of Sprezzatura
The origin of the word sprezzatura dates back to 1528 when the author Baldassare Castiglione coined the original concept sprezzatura in The Book of the Courtier. In this book, Castiglione described how a courtier should dress and behave while amongst nobles in court. You should appear elegant and well-dressed without appearing to be making an effort to do so. Basically, while you put in the effort to elegantly present yourself, you actually make it look like you didn’t – a planned laidback disposition.
When it comes to it’s signification with dining, we find it’s connection tied with the world’s first pizzeria, Pizzeria Brandi. Opened in 1891 it has become the most famous pizzeria in the world while the “Pizza Margherita”, named after the Queen of Italy, was originally designed to be served on a plate with a red, white, and green striped napkin – embodying the effortless and casual spirit of sprezzatura.
While the video below discusses sprezzatura in the context of fashion and the sartorial lifestyle, we found it’s description clear and concise, and accurately explaining this concept:
The Origins Of Wine In Tumblers
When sprezzatura is applied to dining, serving wine in tumblers is one of its oldest expressions. The art of drinking without organized wine tasting rituals (such as you’d find at winery’s that teach you to sniff, swirl, sniff, and sip), sprezzatura allows you to drink for the sheer pleasure of drinking and thus, being merry with your company. This approach allows you a way of maintaining your dignity while still enjoying yourself.
The Italians call this the “art of drinking well without drinking too much.” In the Italian tradition, wine in tumblers is not just a way of enjoying wine, but also a way of enjoying other people. Sprezzatura is the art of drinking wine without any of the traditional constraints.
Wine and Pizza
Another famous use of sprezzatura is serving wine with pizza. The combination of pairing a simple food that’s made by hand with a fine wine is a perfect example of thoughtful nonchalance. Replace the long-stemmed wine glasses with short tumblers, and voila…you have the start of the perfect sprezzatura dining experience! This is precisely the reason Fondis serves our wine in tumblers, and why, we have strategically planned our restaurant to have an open, cafe-style dining room.
It’s this combination of well-thought out and tested menus and curated wines being served in a casual dining experience. On the surface, we may come across as ultra casual, but what happens behind the scenes in our kitchen is a mastermind creation thanks to decades of fine dining experience. At Fondi’s we pride ourselves in embodying the art of sprezzatura.
Pro tip: Learn how to pair your pizza with wine by reading our Wine and Pizza pairing guide on the Slice.
How You Can Enjoy Sprezzatura with Fondi
One of the best ways you can enjoy sprezzatura with us, is simple: come in and dine with us. Introduce yourself and ask for Chef Olsen! As we shared in the beginning, his passion goes beyond pizza and resides mostly with the Gig Harbor community.
When you come in to dine with us, you are our guest and become a part of the Fondi family.
Visit us during lunch for our specials that start at $12.95 and include a pizza, salad, and drink. Or dine with us on a Wednesday evening for a meal and half-off wine bottles.
Family dining is encouraged! And if you just so happen to be looking for a place to host your next gathering, be that a wedding rehearsal dinner, family reunion, or fundraiser, be sure to fill out our Book an Event form to discuss your gathering.
You can find our restaurant in the Uptown Gig Harbor shopping center at 4621 Point Fosdick Dr. Gig Harbor, WA 98335.
And if you have any questions, feel free to call us at (253) 851-6666. We look forward to dining with you when you’re in town!