Neapolitan Pizza: A History and Guide
When it comes to pizza, few styles are as iconic and beloved as Neapolitan pizza. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the rich history of Neapolitan pizza, explore its traditional ingredients and preparation methods, and provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to make the perfect Neapolitan pizza at home. Whether you’re a pizza aficionado or a curious foodie, join us on this flavorful journey through the world of Neapolitan pizza.
Pizza is undoubtedly one of the most popular and beloved foods worldwide. While there are countless variations of pizza, one type that stands out is Neapolitan pizza. In this article, we’ll dive into the history and guide of Neapolitan pizza, exploring its origins, making process, variations, and more.
What is Neapolitan Pizza?
Neapolitan pizza is a traditional Italian dish that originated in Naples, Italy. It’s characterized by its simple yet high-quality ingredients, hand-stretched dough, and cooking in a wood-fired oven. The crust of the Neapolitan pizza is typically thin and crispy on the outside with a slightly chewy texture on the inside. It’s usually topped with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil.
The History of Neapolitan Pizza
Origins of Pizza
Pizza, in general, has a long and rich history that dates back to ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans. These civilizations were known to bake flatbreads with various toppings, including herbs, cheese, and olive oil. However, it wasn’t until the 16th century in Naples that pizza, as we know it today, began to take shape.
The Birth of Neapolitan Pizza
Neapolitan pizza’s history dates back to the 18th century when it was a staple food for the working-class people in Naples. It was made with inexpensive ingredients like tomatoes, cheese, and dough and was sold on the streets from open-air stands. The pizza quickly became popular, and people from all walks of life began to enjoy it.
Pizza as a Staple in Naples
As time passed, pizza became more than just a cheap food for the lower classes. In the 19th century, pizzerias began to emerge in Naples, and the pizza-making process evolved. The famous Margherita pizza was invented in Naples in 1889, named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, who was impressed by the pizza’s flavors and simplicity. Today, pizza is a symbol of Naples and a must-try for tourists visiting the city.
Neapolitan Pizza-Making Process
Neapolitan pizza is made with simple, high-quality ingredients. The dough is made with flour, water, salt, and yeast, and is left to rise for several hours. San Marzano tomatoes, which are grown in the volcanic soil near Mount Vesuvius, are used for the sauce. Fresh mozzarella cheese is used, along with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh basil.
Preparation and Assembly
Once the dough has risen, it’s hand-stretched and shaped into a circle. The sauce is spread on top, leaving a small border around the edge. The cheese is then added, along with any additional toppings. The pizza is then transferred to a wood-fired oven, which is heated to a high temperature of around 900°F. The pizza is cooked for just a few minutes until the crust is crispy and slightly charred on the edges.
Cooking and Serving
Once the pizza is cooked, it’s taken out of the oven and sliced into wedges. Neapolitan pizza is typically served uncut and eaten with a fork and knife. It’s meant to be enjoyed immediately, while the cheese is still melted and the crust is hot and crispy.
Neapolitan Pizza Variations
While the classic Margherita pizza is the most well-known Neapolitan pizza, there are many other delicious variations to try.
The Margherita pizza is made with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. It’s a simple yet delicious pizza that lets the quality of the ingredients shine.
The Marinara pizza is made with San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and olive oil. It doesn’t have any cheese, making it a great option for vegans or those who are lactose intolerant.
The Capricciosa pizza is made with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, artichokes, olives, and ham or prosciutto.
The Quattro Stagioni pizza is divided into four sections, each representing a different season. The sections are typically topped with ingredients like mushrooms, olives, ham, artichokes, and prosciutto.
The Bianca pizza doesn’t have any tomato sauce and is instead topped with ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, and garlic. It’s an excellent option for those who want a pizza with a different flavor profile.
The Neapolitan Pizza Association
The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in Naples in 1984. Its mission is to protect and promote the Neapolitan pizza tradition, as well as to ensure the quality and authenticity of Neapolitan pizza around the world. To be certified by the AVPN, pizzerias must adhere to strict guidelines regarding the ingredients, preparation, and cooking of Neapolitan pizza.
Neapolitan Pizza vs. Other Types of Pizza
While Neapolitan pizza is often considered the gold standard of pizza, there are many other delicious types of pizza to try. New York-style pizza is characterized by its thin, crispy crust and large slices, while Chicago-style pizza is known for its deep-dish crust and abundance of toppings. Sicilian-style pizza is a thick, square pizza with a crispy crust and tomato sauce on top.
How to Enjoy Neapolitan Pizza
To fully enjoy Neapolitan pizza, it’s important to savor each bite and appreciate the quality of the ingredients. It’s also important to eat it immediately, while it’s still hot and fresh. Neapolitan pizza is best enjoyed with a glass of red wine or a cold beer.
Neapolitan Pizza Around the World
While Neapolitan pizza originated in Naples, it’s now enjoyed all over the world. In fact, the AVPN has certified pizzerias in over 70 countries, including the United States, Japan, and Australia. While the pizza may vary slightly depending on the region, the principles of high-quality ingredients, hand-stretched dough, and wood-fired ovens remain the same.
Neapolitan pizza is a true Italian classic that has captivated people’s taste buds for centuries. Its simple yet delicious ingredients, hand-stretched dough, and wood-fired cooking method result in a pizza that is both flavorful and satisfying. Whether you prefer a classic Margherita pizza or one of the many delicious variations, there’s no denying the appeal of Neapolitan pizza. So next time you’re in the mood for a delicious slice, consider trying a Neapolitan pizza and savoring the rich history and tradition behind this beloved dish.
Is Neapolitan pizza only made with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil?
No, while the Margherita pizza is the most well-known Neapolitan pizza, there are many other variations that use different toppings and sauces.
What is the difference between Neapolitan pizza and other types of pizza
Neapolitan pizza is known for its thin, chewy crust, fresh ingredients, and wood-fired cooking method. Other types of pizza may have thicker crusts, and different toppings, or be cooked in different types of ovens.
Where can I find authentic Neapolitan pizza outside of Italy?
The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) has certified pizzerias in over 70 countries worldwide, so it’s possible to find authentic Neapolitan pizza in many places.
How do I eat Neapolitan pizza?
Neapolitan pizza is typically eaten with a fork and knife, and it’s important to eat it immediately while the cheese is still melted and the crust is hot and crispy.
What makes Neapolitan pizza so special?
Neapolitan pizza is special because it has a rich history and tradition, and it’s made using high-quality ingredients, hand-stretched dough, and wood-fired ovens, resulting in a pizza that is both delicious and satisfying.
Thank you for reading this article on the history and guide to Neapolitan pizza. We hope that it has provided you with valuable information and inspired you to try this classic Italian dish. If you have any further questions or comments, please leave them below.
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