From Italy, Hot Sauce Specially Crafted to Spice Up Your Pizza

There wasn't a hot sauce that was produced and bottled in Italy until Firelli arrived on the market in 2021

Firelli is meant to mesh perfectly with the tomato sauce on your pizza
Firelli is meant to mesh perfectly with the tomato sauce on your pizza.

Published in Naples in 1694, Antonio Latini’s cookbook Lo Scalco Alla Moderna  (The Modern Steward) contains the first published recipe for salsa alla spagnuola, a Spanish-style sauce containing tomatoes and chili peppers. Almost a decade later, in 1781, Vincenzo Corrado’s Del Cibo Pitagorico was released with a recipe for salsa al tornagusto, a sauce made with a combination of garlic, vinegar, herbs, spices and chilies.

Clearly, Italy had a head start on the spicy sauce trade. And yet there was never a modern hot sauce produced and bottled in Italy until Firelli arrived on the market earlier this year.

Handcrafted in Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region, the medium spicy sauce gets its kick from Calabrian chili peppers sourced from the south of Italy. To balance out the heat from the peppers, sauce-maker Marco Agrimonti and his family add roasted red peppers, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and Porcini mushrooms to give Firelli its rich taste.

“The product is completely new — with great Italian design, flavor, and flare,” Agrimonti tells InsideHook. “Our ingredients are focused on trying to create a special Italian flavor. It’s not overwhelmingly hot, but rounded, complex and totally delicious.”

Crafted in Italy, Firelli predictably pairs with pasta as well
Crafted in Italy, Firelli predictably pairs with pasta as well.

Delivered in a cone-shaped bottle modeled on the shape of an old fire extinguisher capped with a stopper that resembles a chess piece, Firelli goes well on eggs, with pasta or mixed in a Bloody Mary. But its specific use case, according the the people behind, is to serve as a topping on pizza.

“We noticed people around the world add spice to their pizza — whether it is Tabasco, Cholula, chili oil or chili flakes — and yet, there was no Italian hot sauce,” Agrimonti says. “Firelli is great on pizza. The tangy acidity of the balsamic vinegar cuts through the cheesiness of pizza, the Calabrian chili spice adds a nice but not overwhelming kick, and the porcini and roasted red pepper is a delightful complement to most pizza.”

First introduced to the market in the United States, Firelli is now available around the world, from the United Kingdom and China to Russia and Peru. Also, two new flavors — truffle and extra hot — are on the way.

“We did quite a bit of research into the history of hot sauce in Italy which was very inspiring,” Agrimonti says. “The red chili pepper was initially used only for decorative purposes before innovative chefs began incorporating it into Italian cuisine. So there’s some fascinating history behind it and our brilliant team worked hard and developed something really interesting. Many samples, much testing, tasting, adjusting, scaling up to test batches and then to commercial production. We had to build a special filling line — it is still quite small — but it is remarkably hard to get sauce into a bottle with a very small opening and make sure it is safe. It was a lot of work, but completely worth it.”

On behalf of pizza consumers in the U.S., Italy and around the world, grazie mille.


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