In order to fully appreciate what makes Neapolitan pizza special, it is essential to have a basic knowledge of the background and what actually defines a pizza as being from Naples.
First Things First: What Is Neapolitan Pizza?
There's what you call "pizza" (New York, Chicago, New Haven), and there is also "Neapolitan pizza" (the one with the charred crust).
While most pizzerias make authentic Neapolitan pizza here in the States, that doesn't mean Piza Bien does the same. And it doesn’t mean that we can't learn what authentic Neapolitan is about.
Neapolitan pizza is served up in Naples, Italy, in the famous pizzerias across the town. It has been said to be the country's first popular food. The history of what we know today as authentic Neapolitan pizza dates back to roughly 800 years ago in Napoli (which is now modern-day Naples).
France Influenced the Toppings
With influences from France during this period, what became "traditional" Neapolitan pizza wasn't created until the 1700s. Then it rose to popularity among all classes, which explains why you don't see any traditional toppings on those pies typically considered "classics" like pepperoni or sausage.
Spanish Traditions Spiced it Up
Napoli made what was then called "pizza" in the Spanish Tavern back in 1738. The pie was considered peasant food, which meant it had rock bottom prices until roughly 100 years ago.
It's what people are living on in modern-day Naples. They would find them sold for mere pennies on the street. But that doesn't mean it wasn't delicious or didn't have anything worth being snapped up by people looking to take a break from their daily lives.
It’s a Blend of Tradition Today
Today you can still walk into any pizzeria in Naples and expect to order what has been dubbed "the original pizza." You can also order the country’s, if not the world's most famous pizza, Margherita. It consists of three simple ingredients that represent Italy's colors of green, white, and red.
A Brief History
"Neapolitan Pizza" originates over 200 years ago when King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in April 1889.
Chef Raffaele Esposito created what would become known today as Pizza Margherita. He used whatever he had on hand without refrigeration or even an oven at his disposal - tomatoes, basil leaves, and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese. Adding these ingredients alone was not enough for Esposito; he also wanted the pizza to resemble the Italian flag.
His solution - placing the red tomatoes appeared to be sauce and then topping off the pie with white mozzarella intertwined with green basil leaves. The topping would appear as a hint of the green stem from what is known today as Pizza Margherita.
The King and Queen enjoyed their first taste of Neapolitan pizza. It wasn't long after that Chef Esposito began making more than just this one variety, eventually opening "Pizzeria Brandi" in 1892. It still makes "the Best Pizza in Naples." This is where pizzas are made by following all the authentic criteria of "Traditional Napoletana Pizza."
The Authentic Requirements of Neapolitan Pizza
Four main requirements must be upheld when making what is deemed as authentic Neapolitan pizza:
- You may use only San Marzano tomatoes.
- You can use only fresh mozzarella made from either water buffalo milk or a combination of cow and water buffalo milk. The reason for this lies in the rich and creamy texture and taste the milk provides to what would otherwise just be known as bland cheese.
- Well executed dough with only flour, yeast, salt, and (sometimes) sugar and beer when applicable.
- You must use a wood fire oven at a temperature of roughly 900 degrees Fahrenheit for what would typically take no more than 60 to 90 seconds to cook the pie.
While other aspects could come into play, such as how long what is deemed "Neapolitan pizza" should sit before it's eaten, what type of knife and fork to use, etc. But the elements above give what we know today as Neapolitan pizza. And what differentiates it from what you might typically find at your local pizzeria.
The next time you think about grabbing a slice or calling in an order, consider having this Italian-style pie instead. While it may not be among the quickest meals to prepare, making what is known as Neapolitan pizza can be a labor of love and is most definitely an art form.
Don’t Deny the Dough
The dough of "traditional" Neapolitan pizza sets the tone for what the entire pie will taste like. It makes what can sometimes be called a "Neapolitan American Hybrid" instead of what we know as authentic Neapolitan.
For example, what we consider New York style is actually what they call "Americanized." California or Detroit-style pizzas are simply the variants of Neapolitan pies with diverse toppings and dough. No matter which style you pick, nothing can beat the simplicity of authentic Margherita pizza.
But here in America, it's considered something different thanks to our spin on things and because what we consider to be Margherita isn't necessarily what you'd find in.
When you are looking for the authentic Neapolitan pizza near me, simply rely on Pizza Bien. It's us who can ensure the original Neapolitan pizza direct from the pizzerias of Naples. You will find simplicity and authenticity in each bite.
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