A North Jersey pizzeria is making pizza as black as your soul: Olivella’s, located in North Bergen, is the first restaurant in America to sling pizzas made with activated charcoal.
“In Italy, activated charcoal is very popular. A lot of people use it now in ice cream, in gelato, in cocktails, everything,” says Chef Salvatore Olivella. Activated charcoal, which is extremely absorbent, has grown increasingly popular in the US as well, popping up in everything from face masks to cocktails, thanks to its other purported health benefits (like “detoxing” the body and preventing hangovers). While there’s no concrete proof that it’ll actually detox you, according to the Mayo Clinic, it can be used as an emergency treatment for certain types of poisonings.
The Naples-born Olivella says he wanted to be the first to bring activated charcoal pizza to the US, largely because he believes “it’s helping people.” In addition to the pizza dough, he’s incorporated it into the mozzarella in the caprese salad, the custard in tiramisu, pasta dough, and fried zeppole dough.