The view of the hill town of Sperlonga alone makes an excursion here worth it. I never tire of that view. The water is clean and crisp and delightful: Sperlonga prides itself on having the top water cleanliness rating along the coast.
It always boils down to the seaside life and the food, and Sperlonga offers plenty to satisfy. We kept it simple: a few gelati from the Pasticceria Fiorelli which, in addition to amazing ice cream, has the best doughnuts in Italy.
The best alimentare is one we’ve been going to for decades, still owned by Carmina and Sandro, still with the same ebullient sales girls working the banco gastronomico (deli counter). They are not girls, or even young women; they can’t be if I’ve known them almost a quarter of a century. But they look it. So friendly and welcoming that I usually end up purchasing much more than I intend to.
We always buy plenty of mozzarella di bufala, made just hours before: warm and succulent and redolent of fresh buffalo milk.
Carmina and Sandro’s alimentare is always fully stocked of Tiella, Stuffed Pizza from Gaeta. They’re so good I usually buy a small slice of every kind. The tiella, typical to the Gulf of Gaeta, is something in between a pizza and a calzone. It’s the shape of a pizza with a softer dough, and filled, like a calzone.
Like so many Laziale gastronomical specialties, the tiella was born a poor man’s food and a way to use up leftovers. The local favorite is filled with calamari, tomato, olive oil, parsley and a touch of peperoncino. The tiella alla parmigiana is filled with eggplant, cheese, tomato and fresh basil. Another popular filling is potatoes and zucchini.
These tielle are all filled with assorted fresh vegetables cooked in local olive oil, cheese, prosciutto and mortadella.
Legend has it that Frederick IV of Bourbon, who ruled the Neapolitan Republic for a time during the 16th century, was so fascinated with the tiella that he came up with the idea to honor it by creating different types, each with different tasty fillings.
The name comes from the round teglia (hence tiella) or baking sheet used to bake tielle. A disc of dough is placed in the teglia, filling is placed on top and then a second disc of dough is placed over the filling.
The best recipes I’ve run across for the Tiella, Stuffed Pizza from Gaeta are for the ones made with seafood: polipi and calamari. It’s such a simple dish and the below dough recipe is quite easy, as are these two recipes in Italian:
Tiella, Stuffed Pizza from Gaeta
Flour, 1 kg
Yeast, one cake
1 Tsp sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tsp salt
300 ml water, plus an additional 200 ml water as needed
Combine 300 ml of tepid water with the yeast and sugar. Gradually combine the yeast mixture & flour.
As needed, add the additional 200 ml water so that you have a soft, kneadable dough. Add the salt and 1 tbsp oil to the dough.
Knead the dough until it is smooth & elastic, about 5 minutes.
Put the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil into a large bowl, and place the dough in the bowl, covering it with the oil.
Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Punch dough down & make into 6 to 10 dough balls.
Roll each ball into a disc, or rectangle, that will just fit into a wide-rimmed baking sheet.
Please note that the below printable recipe can be viewed and printed in either metric or U.S. conventional measurements; just click on your preference within the recipe.
Tiella, Stuffed Pizza from Gaeta
- 1 kilogram Flour
- 300 milliliters water
- 1 cake yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 for the dough, 1 to coat the bowl where the dough will rise
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 200 milliliters water, if needed
Prepare your desired tiella filling; the filling can be almost anything, including leftovers! Think Chicken Pot Pie! My favorites are a tomato seafood filling, or eggplant parmesan.
Combine 300 ml of tepid water with the yeast and sugar.
- Gradually combine the yeast mixture & flour.
As needed, add the additional 200 ml water bit by bit so that you have a soft, kneadable dough.
- Add the salt and 1 tbsp oil to the dough.
- Knead the dough until it is smooth & elastic, about 5 minutes.
Put the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil into a large bowl with the dough, and cover it with the oil.
Cover the bowl with a damp dishcloth and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
Punch dough down & make into 6 to 10 dough balls.
Roll each ball into a disc (or rectangle) that will just fit into a pie or tart pan, or a wide-rimmed baking sheet.
Place one disk into a pie or tart pan and add the desired filling.
Top with a second disk and pinch the edges to seal.
Bake in a 200ºC oven until golden, about 35 minutes.