Friedrichshain’s Futura Enters The Frozen Pizza Market

By Andrew Cottrill . July 14, 2023

Futura-quality Neapolitan pizzas you can get from the supermarket and cook at home? We had to check them out.

Neapolitan-style frozen pizzas you can bake yourself at home? Mildly interesting. Futura-quality frozen pizzas… well, that’s a different thing entirely. That’s what I thought when I saw an ad for Futura’s new range of frozen pizzas on Facebook. I emailed straight away. I had to know more.

Ever since I first visited Futura, I’ve loved them. I love their Pizzaiolo, Alessandro Leonardi… and it’s not just his pizzas I love, nor his tattoos, nor the way my girlfriend looks at him more than me… it’s his dogged strive for quality and high standards that I love.

And now, in a strange twist of fortune, their outstanding pizzas are available in a supermarket freezer near you.

Photo: Sandra Juto

Pizza born out of a culture clash

“We live under a bomb – of course we’re crazy,” Alessandro tells me. He’s describing the Neapolitan pizza culture – a culture formed under the constant threat of volcanic apocalypse, the Vesuvial rocks that make their pizza ovens a constant reminder. To Neapolitans, time is important.

In Naples, people sit as close to the pizza oven as possible in the hope they can get their pizzas just a few seconds quicker. A few seconds fresher. Every second counts. Frozen pizzas are just not connected to this culture, he tells me.

So, how did this Neapolitan pizza purist get involved in frozen pizzas? He was convinced (or perhaps strong-armed) by his loving brother-in-law, business partner and full-time German, Alex Uhlmann. There was a business opportunity there.

Wholly (religiously) reticent at first, it was only when Alessandro began experimenting with recipes, seeing success and realising that he could actually do this without offending his nation and grandparents, he climbed aboard.

The results were good.

Photo: Sandra Juto

Now for the science bit…

Although Futura started selling frozen pizzas five months ago, this project has been two years in the making. After the recipes were decided on, samples needed to be sent to a lab for clinical analysis. Each ingredient would be examined for its nutritional value.

This back-and-forth process was the hardest part for Alessandro. It also means that every frozen pizza Futura makes needs to respect the results – every ingredient needs to be individually weighed before they go into the oven.

It takes Alessandro 4x longer to make a frozen pizza than a normal Futura one.

Zero compromise on quality

If you know Alessandro, you know that he values quality ingredients to the point of obsession.

He happily lists off reasons why Futura pizzas are – qualitatively – the best. “Mutti tomatoes are fine (though they’re Sicilian). The Neapolitan tomatoes we use cost 7.20 EUR per can. Our ham is the best in Italy. 26 EUR per kilo. It takes 10 litres of milk to make 700g of our Fior di Latte – in Metro, they would make 6kg with that amount. Our tuna doesn’t come in a can. It comes in a jar, from people who respect the sea. It’s 45 EUR a kilo and it’s something else…”

On the suggestion that their frozen pizzas might compromise on quality, he snaps: “It’s not in my brain to use lesser quality ingredients. I grew up with this. It’s a connection to my grandma, my childhood, my life… The brain just knows when the products are good.”

He is the boss. The frozen pizzas are made in-house. The processes are the same. The quality is the same.

Photo: <a href="https://www.sandrajuto.co/" target="_blank">Sandra Juto</a>

An initial run of four pizzas

Supermarkets are currently offering four kinds of Futura frozen pizza, each one lifted directly and faithfully from Futura’s menu. Margherita, Vegana, Salamissima and 5 Formaggi.

The word ‘vegan cheese’ was mentioned in relation to the Vegana. Alessandro’s Italian passion fired. “What’s vegan cheese?”, he stated, “that’s not cheese. Let me tell you a story: vegan pizzas are at least 250 years old. The first pizza was vegan – the Marinara. Tomato sauce. Garlic. Oregano. Basil. Our vegan pizzas use three types of tomatoes from a specialist Neapolitan farmer. You have to order them a whole year in advance. Who needs cheese?”

And how do the pizzas taste?

Alessandro prepared a Salamissima and 5 Formaggi for us. Admittedly, and to Alessandro’s chagrin, Futura’s catering oven was a little too hot for them. They’re designed for home ovens – like yours.

Still, they looked great. Dimpled black as if they’d come fresh out of the pizza oven.

Photo: Sandra Juto

I took my first bite. Vesuvius erupted.

That tomato flavour – the tomatoes Alessandro prizes so highly – simultaneously sweet and sour, then sweet again. Oven-fresh oil from the melted cheese, the still-ripe basil, the salt of the salami. “This is how Neapolitans cut salami,” Alessandro says, indicating the thick salami strips used instead of slices.

Photo: Sandra Juto

The 5 Formaggi was another triumph, boasting Gorgonzola, Mozzarella di Bufala, smoked Scamorza, fresh Ricotta and Pecorino Romano. At times spicy, salty and earthy, others smoky and sweet – always luxurious.

Photo: Sandra Juto
Note: Neapolitans fold – Photo: Sandra Juto

Seeing the reaction on our faces, Alessandro stated: “I appreciate to see you’re eating with love”. And we were.

We caught the same look on his face, too.

Photo: Sandra Juto

Don’t let the price put you off

I would never say that these frozen pizzas rival those fresh from Futura’s pizza oven. They’re obviously different. But they’re still better pizzas than those from any of Friedrichshain’s other ‘Authentic Neapolitan’ pizzerias (you know who you are… your names have places in Naples in them).

All that hand-made quality doesn’t come cheap. Supermarkets are retailing Futura’s frozen pizzas for 10-12 EUR, and the profit margin for Futura is minuscule.

Still, takeaways cost 20 EUR these days anyway. They do and you know it. So, keep a few of these in your freezer, impress a date or two with a homemade Neapolitan pizza and support a local business.

Long live the king. Long live Alessandro and Futura.

*Note: all photos by the wonderful Sandra Juto, except for the one at the very top which I stole off of Futura’s Instagram.

Find Futura’s frozen pizzas at the following supermarkets

(Check the map for updates)

Eldenaer Str. 42, 10247 Berlin-Friedrichshain

REWE Glawe
Gotlindestraße 40, 10365 Berlin-Lichtenberg

EDEKA Center Brehm
Clayallee 328-334, 14169 Berlin

EDEKA Center Brehm
An d. Schule 82, 12623 Berlin

E-Center Sprecht
Potsdamer Str. 60, 14974 Ludwigsfelde


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