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Antica Forma: Authenticity with an Astonishing History
By Linda Schmidt
Antica Forma? It is Italian for “the old form,” and in this case, “the old recipe.” It is the name of an outstanding Moab restaurant that serves truly authentic Neapolitan pizza, made in the time-tested method of the pizziaoli of Naples. It is an art that requires not only serious training but also imported Italian ingredients and an Italian wood-fired oven. The whys and hows of Antica Forma’s existence are quite astonishing—read on!Antica Farma Sign

On June 20th 2014, Brock Smith, the very capable manager of Antica Forma, and his father fulfilled a shared dream, going to NYC to watch a sports event. Contact with a former acquaintance led to an invitation to the Manhattan restaurant where she and her boyfriend, a pizza chef, worked. It was a small place, as most New York restaurants are, and it was packed. The motorized delivery bikes outside were stacked high with boxes of to-go pizza. A good sign pointing to a good meal, but what followed is amazing! The food was so excellent that by the end of the meal, an offer was made by the Smiths and accepted by the young pizza cook, Israel Hernandez, to become the chef and part owner of a pizzeria (yet to be created) in Vernal, Utah!
Chef Israel’s history is also amazing. He moved from Mexico to NYC when he was fifteen and went to work as a pizza cook. Though he learned how to cook all kinds of pizza, the discovery of Neapolitan pizza set the course for his life. Learning Italian of necessity, he was trained by the top two pizzaioli (pizza chefs) in New York. Mastering the art, Israel became certified by the Assciazione Pizzaiulo Napoletani, and on January19, 2015, he took 3rd place in the World Caputo Cup! (Caputo is the producer of the Cadillac of Italian flour- a must for Neapolitan pizza.)
Chef Israel
After twenty two years in NYC, Vernal was quite a change for Israel, but his desire to have his own restaurant had become a reality through this partnership. The Smiths spared no expense to create a true Neapolitan kitchen, with a beautiful tile oven flown in from Italy. The first Antica Forma opened in Vernal on November 5th of 2014, and was such a success that the second was opened in Moab a few years later. It is listed as Moab’s #1 Italian restaurant by Tripadvisor after only two years of operation.

Antica Forma uses the freshest and most authentic ingredients possible for their very special pizza and their pastas. Caputo flour, San Marzano tomatoes from the volcanic soils of Mt. Vesuvius, and Belgioioso cheese curd (used for the daily making of the restaurant’s fresh mozzarella) must be imported from Italy. All are remarkably flavorful; only salt is added to the tomatoes to create pizza sauce, and the dough is composed of only flour, yeast and salt. A garden behind the restaurant provides fresh vegetables in season. The desserts too are made from scratch; even their vanilla is made in-house. (A friendly suggestion: save room for their delightful banana cream pie concoction!)

The pizza dough is raised for 24 hours in a cool room to develop its full flavor, and baked for 60 to 90 seconds in the wood-fired oven at temperatures from 700 to 850 degrees. Mastering this is the most difficult aspect of the art of making true Neapolitan pizza. It is necessary that the crust be slightly charred, but not burned. The stone must reheat for just the right amount of time between pizzas, and that can be as little as 45 seconds! The flavor of the crust and simple ingredients blend together wonderfully, each complimenting the others. The overall effect is delicate but full-flavored, and perfectly delicious. This is the best pizza this writer has eaten! I’m not alone: check out the 5 star comments on Tripadvisor.

Are you interested in a true, high quality restaurant experience? Would you like to eat excellent food that is special and memorable? Don’t miss Antica Forma, where Chef Israel’s artistry, his concern for authenticity, and Brock’s warm and competent oversight make this happen! The service is excellent and friendly; that very young man serving water is Brock’s son. Seating is available inside, or out in the two spacious, open-air porches. Antica Forma is located at the north end of Moab at 267 N. Main Street. Hours are 11am to 10pm. 435-355-0167. You can view the menu and learn even more at

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