Meet the Chef: Massimo Tolve, Pizza Pomodoro


Growing up in the world capital of pizza, Naples-born Massimo Tolve learned most of his family's recipes helping out in their delicatessen and bakery business.

Instead of following his parent's guidance to keep studying and follow his brother's footsteps into the I.T industry, Tolve decided to follow his passion for food - juggling between working at his family business, his uncle's pizzeria and other eateries in Italy.

In 1993, Tolve came to New Zealand on holiday, where he met his wife, a Kiwi with Italian heritage, and decided to stay in the country. After working in the hospitality sector, Tolve noticed that there were hardly any Neapolitan pizzerias in New Zealand and decided to fill that gap by opening up Pizza Pomodoro in 2000.

Located in Wellington's CBD, Pizza Pomodoro specialises in serving authentic Neapolitan pizza, made using home-made pizza dough that has undergone at least risen for eight hours and cooked to perfection in a wood-fired oven, producing an airy puffed crust.

The pizza restaurant is proud to be a part of the Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Restaurant Association, helping to protect the craft and name of Neapolitan pizza.

"The making of a true Neapolitan pizza is a real artisan trade. The dough needs to be stretched and topped by hand and the oven needs to be controlled by feel. There is no recipe that tells you how much wood you need to put in the oven, it is a job that can only be managed by a trained pizza chef."

Over the last 23 years of operation, Pizza Pomodoro has received an abundance of awards and recognitions. However, Tolve says that the biggest achievement of all is satisfying so many hungry customers.

"Knowing that people enjoyed and continue to enjoy our pizza is the best achievement for me. What makes me very happy is still having loyal customers even after 23 years, some of which have visited since our opening day."

Although working in hospitality comes with its difficulties, Tolve says that it is a fun and rewarding industry if you have a real passion for food.

'Working evenings, weekends and often public holidays is not for everyone. But if you are able to manage your time between work and your personal life, you can have a very happy and rewarding life at and outside of work."

Looking forward, Tolve has a new business planned to be launched in the next couple of years. In between running Pizza Pomodoro and working on other business ventures, he also hopes to plan more short and long trips abroad with his wife.