Neapolitan Pizza Demystified!

As National Pizza Month quickly approaches, we took some time to reflect on the history of Italian pizza.  Ask our co-founder and head of culinary Giulio Adriani what makes Neapolitan-style pizza different from other pizzas and he will immediately correct you.

“No, the question is, what makes other pizzas different from Neapolitan pizza.” (smile)

Opening dough

What he means to say is, Neapolitan pizza is the standard against which all other pizzas are to be judged. It is the golden source of pizza, born in the Italian city of Naples (Neapolitan means of or relating to Naples), and its defining characteristics are taken very seriously. There is literally an association that certifies pizzerias that use the proper ancient artisan techniques.  Giulio used to be that guy flying around the world and certifying pizzerias & pizza!

These techniques not only guarantee an amazing tasting pie, they ensure it’s better for you. Typical American fast food pizza is too often made with low quality ingredients—at a high cost to our health.

“Real dough, for example, should just be made from water, flour, and yeast,” says Giulio. “Not palm oil, not bleached flour, not dough conditioners … these horrible things you find in fast food pizzas. Topping authentic dough with fresh ingredients—this is pizza as it should be.”

In other words, pizza shouldn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. It can just be a pleasure.

Listen, we don’t mean to sound like pizza snobs. Having lived in America for more than eight years now, even Giulio has learned to appreciate a greasy pie and grabs a slice from Joe’s whenever he’s in NYC. But as a staple in your diet & a great way to get in all your food groups, vitamins & minerals… we recommend the real deal.

Traditional margherita pizza with san marzano tomoatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and perfectly charred crust

A Primer in Neapolitan Pizza

Here are five key characteristics that make Neapolitan or Neapolitan-style pizza better tasting and better for you.

  1. Neapolitan pizza is soft and chewy. This may require some getting used to, but only will this texture grow on you, it won’t grow on your hips. An authentic Neapolitan pizza has a crust made from a dough that is made with highly refined Italian type 0 or 00 wheat flour (which is ground extra fine, giving it a unique texture and the ability to absorb more water without becoming soupy), Neapolitan or fresh brewer’s yeast (not dry yeast), water, and salt. The dough should sit through a good long fermentation period, so the starches break down into simpler sugars (better tasting and better for you). And the dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer and formed by hand (more fun to watch, too!), without the help of a rolling pin.
  2. The dough is topped with raw, pureed San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, fior di latte (mozzarella cheese made from cow’s milk), or mozzarella di Bufala, which is mozzarella cheesemade from the milk of water buffalos. The ingredients must be all-natural and fresh. (Watch Giulio make authentic sauce on Dr. Oz!)
  3. It’s cooked for a very short time at very high temps of 000-1000 degrees. That’s also why the dough is softer, and it’s why the toppings look so bright and fresh. Because of the short cooking time, there is less fat getting transformed into saturated fats. That floating yellow oil and cheese you’re used to? Yeah, not happening here.
  4. There is often more sauce than cheese on a Neapolitan-style pizza, leaving the middle of the pie moist.
  5. Neapolitan pies are approximately 12 inches in diameter. This means you get to enjoy your pizza all to yourself.  (This month we are launching a new larger pizza size for more sharing!)

Our pizza makers work with a signature, proprietary dough made with a special blend of flour created in partnership with the Caputo Flour Company based in Naples (you can buy some in our market and take it home with you!). They also use imported Italian sea salt and local and seasonal ingredients such as freshly-sourced items like burrata and local honey. When it comes to great tasting pizza, the ingredients matter.

No matter what style pizza you enjoy, the true measure of success is your taste buds. “With food, there is no such thing as ‘an expert’ or the ‘the best pizza’,” says Giulio. “It’s subjective. My goal is to make the highest quality pizza possible and share it with as many people as I can. And hopefully they love it.”

Our ‘exception’ pizza – non traditional Neapolitan featuring pepperoni

So, come join us for National Pizza Month with friends & family & enjoy our new 15” sharing pizza!