Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
It begins with a rolling pat-down, but he quickly accelerates into a full-body shuffle, knees alternately taking deep plies while his head dips and his weight shifts from side to side. His arms aloft, he spins around, then gradually settles into stillness again. A dance phrase? Kind of—but this is dance with a purpose. The guy is Anthony Pilla, pizzaiolo at Eastern Market’s Seventh Hill Pizza, and the routine is what he calls “pizza acrobatico”: a flamboyant approach to spinning the dough, which all good pizza makers do in an effort to handle it as little as possible. Despite his fluid physicality, Pilla, 24, doesn’t have a background in dance or even sports. But he was into theater in high school and says, “I like to be in front of people. I’m a showoff.” Indeed: if he catches you staring, he might jazz things up by bouncing the spinning wheel of dough across his shoulders. Does that make the pizza taste better once it arrives? Hard to say. But it sure provides some entertainment while you wait.