Pizza…It’s Personal

March 7, 2023

Naples is the home of pizza and making and perfecting it, is serious business because there are ridged rules that govern its authenticity ,set down by a governing organization that determines which pizzerias will get the coveted VPN (la vera pizza Napoletana) designation (authentic Neapolitan pizza).

Rules are rules when it comes to pizza and here are some of them.

1) The temperature of the wood burning oven must be 900F and the floor of the oven must be 5 inches thick

2) Only fresh yeast can be used

3) The water for making the dough must be free of chemicals 

4) Only San Marzano tomatoes grown in the rich volcanic soil in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius can be used

5) Flour must be Tipo 00 

6) Fior di latte (fresh mozzarella cheese) is the only cheese permitted for the topping and the cheese should be blistered, creating rises and falls on the surface of the pizza as it cooks.

7) Fresh herbs (basil and oregano) are key toppings in the making of Neapolitan pizzas. 

8) Pizza must cook in 90 seconds

9) Pizza dough must be made and stretched by hand, no rolling pins allowed. 

When cooked, a pizza should be crisp on the bottom but slightly chewy on top. The crust rim known as a cornizone, should have tinges of black.

Only four variations are allowed for authentic pizza Napoletana: Margherita, with crushed tomatoes, olive oil basil and mozzarella.  Marinara, with crushed tomatoes, olive oil, oregano, and garlic. Formaggio e Pomodoro with cheese, crushed tomatoes and olive oil. And Rpieno, a calzone filled with ricotta or mozzarella, olive oil, and salumi.

Eating pizza in Naples is serious business and even here tradition prevails. First, pizza is never sold in a box. It is enjoyed at a pizzeria, and it is never shared. You order and eat your own personal pizza because they are dinner plate size and very thin. Use a fork and knife to eat the pizza or fold the slices into a” libretto “a little book. 

Other regions of Italy make pizza, but they are distant cousins of what you would find in pizza’s true home of Naples. In Sicily, a thick bread like pizza called sfincione is made with tomatoes and anchovies; in Tuscany, a flat pizza called focaccia is made with herbs, olive oil and various toppings. In Rome, pizza is sold by the slice (pizza a taglia) and toppings can include anything from salumi like prosciutto to vegetables and cheese.

So if a trip to Bella Napoli is in your future, go straight to a pizzeria because only there will you enjoy the true taste of Neapolitan pizza…it’s personal. 

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