All You Need To Know About Italy’s Neapolitan Pizza
Pizza enthusiasts, be warned. Reading this is going to make you very, very hungry!
The Neapolitan pizza is one of Italy’s most famous culinary offerings, which first appeared in Naples, southern Italy. Since Naples was a port city, it witnessed the arrival of immigrants from Arab countries and North Africa. So, it was fairly common to see people here munching on flatbread topped with cheese and dates. Years later, when peasants in the city began using tomatoes in their food and a Neapolitan baker added cheese to the mix, this humble flatbread received a spiffy new look.
SO, HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY A NEAPOLITAN PIZZA?
The Neapolitan pizza is a simple small pizza. It presents a beautiful balance of flavours—acidity of tomatoes, the fresh, smooth taste of mozzarella cheese and the aroma of fresh basil. If you’re looking to identify one, here are some things to remember.
• It’s a simple pizza which usually has more sauce than cheese, resulting in a slightly soggy center
• It’s a pretty small pizza. Picture the size of personal pans
• Its crust is airy, light and slightly charred, with some bubbles
HOW’S IT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER ITALIAN PIZZAS?
Still wondering what sets this classic apart from other pies? Well, while Roman pizza crusts are thick and crunchy, the Neapolitan pizza has a famously puffy crust. For instance, the pizza al taglio, a specialty in Rome, is a rectangular pizza, while the Neapolitan pizza is round. Even Sicily has its own kind of pizza called sfincione, which has a thick crust and is baked in a rectangular pan. Suffice to say that when you see a Neapolitan pizza, you will definitely know it.
MAKING THINGS OFFICIAL
In case you didn’t know this already, the making of an authentic Neapolitan pizza is quite a big deal in Italy. Families across the country are said to have their own fiercely-guarded recipes. What’s more? There are also some pretty strict rules when it comes to making this pizza.
The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) in Naples, states that certain stringent requirements must be met for a pizza to be deemed ‘Neapolitan’. So, every pizzaioli, or pizza-maker in Italy, must abide by these rules.
• The dough must be made using super refined Italian type 0 or 00 wheat flour, Neapolitan yeast, water and salt
• It must be topped with raw, pureed San Marzano tomatoes and just two types of mozzarella cheese — one made with cow’s milk or one made with water buffalo’s milk
• This pizza should be baked for 60-90 seconds — not a second longer — in a wood-fired oven
TYPES OF NEAPOLITAN PIZZAS
If you thought that there’s just one type of this pizza, think again. There are three.
Named in honour of the Queen Margherita of Savoy, this most popular variant is topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil and represents the colours of the Italian flag.
This pizza is seasoned with tomato sauce, olive oil, garlic and oregano. No cheese! It’s named so, because mariners’ wives were known to make this sauce for their husbands returning from sea.
This pizza is kind of like the Margherita, with an extra dash of extra-virgin olive oil. D.O.C here stands for ‘Denominazione di Origine Controllata’. This means that the cheese used on this pizza is from a particular region of Italy (i.e, buffalo mozzarella from Campania) and fits the authentic standards.
What with its simple, hand-crafted dough and fresh, flavourful toppings, it’s easy to understand why this humble offering has become a worldwide sensation. People now enjoy this pizza with an array of toppings of their choice, ranging from artichokes to mushrooms. It’s the perfect solution for when you’re craving an easy-to-assemble yet delicious meal.
Simply put, the Neapolitan pizza is not just a pizza, but a rich little slice of Italian history.
Grab our DIY Pizza Kits and bake yourself a pizza at home in under 10 minutes. It’s not a Neapolitan, but we bet you’ll love a pizza that bakes this quick. Buy here.
Follow us on Instagram @sorrentina_honestlyitalian to learn more about the Italian cuisine.