What is Neapolitan Pizza? A Guide to the Authentic Italian Dish

Pizza from Naples is a well-known food with a colorful past. We are eager to delve into the history of this well-known pizza style, as well as its distinguishing traits and flavors.

Napoli pizza

Neapolitan pizza is renowned for its simplicity first and foremost. This pizza, which is made with just a few premium ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil, is proof that less is frequently more in the kitchen.

In fact, Neapolitan pizza is made according to such exacting standards that the food has been given UNESCO World Heritage status, ensuring that only genuine varieties of the pizza can bear the designation. We will examine these recommendations and what they mean for the finished project.

But what is it specifically about Neapolitan pizza that is so unique? Is it the creamy cheese texture, the tangy taste of the tomatoes, or the crunchy yet chewy crust?

We’ll look at the distinctive flavor profile of Neapolitan pizza and what makes it different from other types of pizza.

We strive to offer an educational and entertaining overview of this adored pizza style, whether you have been a lifelong admirer of this iconic dish or are just getting started.

What is Neapolitan Pizza?

Neapolitan pizza is a traditional style of pizza that originated in Naples, Italy. It is known for its simple yet delicious flavors and high-quality ingredients.

In this section, we will discuss the history, ingredients, preparation, and cooking method of Neapolitan pizza.

Neapolitan pizza

History

Neapolitan pizza has a long history that dates back to the 18th century. It was originally a dish for the poor, made with simple ingredients such as tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and olive oil.

Over time, it became popular among the working-class and eventually spread throughout Italy and the rest of the world.

In 1984, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) was founded in Naples to protect and promote the traditional recipe for Neapolitan pizza.

The AVPN established strict guidelines for the preparation and cooking of Neapolitan pizza, which include the use of specific ingredients and cooking methods.

Ingredients

The ingredients used in Neapolitan pizza are of the utmost importance. The dough is made with only four ingredients: flour, water, sea salt, and natural yeast. The flour used must be a high-protein, finely ground type 00 flour.

The water should be fresh and at room temperature. The sea salt should be unrefined and added in small amounts to enhance the flavor of the dough. The natural yeast is what gives the dough its unique flavor and texture.

The tomatoes used in Neapolitan pizza must be San Marzano tomatoes or Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio, which are grown on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius.

The mozzarella cheese used is mozzarella di bufala campana, which is made from the milk of water buffalo.

Other ingredients that can be used include extra virgin olive oil, fior di latte di Agerola (a type of mozzarella cheese), and basil.

Preparation

The preparation of Neapolitan pizza is a delicate process that requires skill and patience. The dough is made by mixing the flour, water, sea salt, and natural yeast together and then kneading it for several minutes.

The dough is then left to rise for several hours before being shaped into individual pizza rounds.

The tomato sauce is made by crushing San Marzano tomatoes or Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio and adding a pinch of sea salt. The mozzarella cheese is sliced and placed on top of the tomato sauce. Other ingredients, such as extra virgin olive oil and basil, can be added at this point.

Cooking Method

Neapolitan pizza is traditionally cooked in a wood-fired oven at a high temperature (around 900°F) for only 60-90 seconds.

This gives the pizza its characteristic crispy crust and soft, chewy interior. The wood-fired oven also imparts a smoky flavor to the pizza that cannot be replicated in a conventional oven.

In recent years, home cooks have been able to replicate the cooking method of Neapolitan pizza by using a portable wood-burning oven, such as the Ooni pizza oven.

This allows for the same high-temperature cooking and smoky flavor that is characteristic of Neapolitan pizza.

Neapolitan pizza is a delicious and traditional style of pizza that is known for its high-quality ingredients and unique cooking method.

By following the strict guidelines established by the AVPN, anyone can make a delicious Neapolitan pizza at home or enjoy one at a pizzeria that specializes in this style of pizza.

Ingredients

When it comes to Neapolitan pizza, the ingredients are simple but crucial. The quality of the ingredients used is what makes this pizza so special.

The dough, sauce, cheese, and toppings all play an important role in creating the perfect Neapolitan pizza.

Neapolitan Pizza

Dough

The dough is the foundation of any pizza, and for Neapolitan pizza, it must be made with high-quality flour.

We use wheat flour, specifically “00” flour, which is finely ground and has a low protein content. This type of flour produces a soft and tender crust that is easy to digest.

To make the dough, we combine flour, water, yeast, and salt. The dough is then left to rise for at least 12 hours, allowing the yeast to work its magic and create a light and airy crust.

Sauce

The sauce for Neapolitan pizza is made with San Marzano tomatoes, which are grown in the volcanic soil near Mount Vesuvius.

These tomatoes are known for their sweet and tangy flavor and low acidity, making them perfect for pizza sauce.

To make the sauce, we crush the San Marzano tomatoes and add garlic, salt, and oregano. The sauce is then left to simmer for a few hours, allowing the flavors to blend together.

Cheese

The cheese used in Neapolitan pizza is fresh mozzarella, either buffalo or cow’s milk. Buffalo mozzarella is creamier and more flavorful, while cow’s milk mozzarella is milder and firmer.

The cheese is sliced thinly and placed on top of the sauce, allowing it to melt and create a creamy layer on top of the pizza.

Toppings

When it comes to toppings, less is more for Neapolitan pizza. We like to keep it simple with fresh basil and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

However, some other popular toppings include sliced tomatoes, prosciutto, and mushrooms.

The ingredients used in Neapolitan pizza are simple but of the highest quality. From the dough to the toppings, each ingredient plays an important role in creating the perfect pizza.

Preparation

Preparing Neapolitan pizza involves several steps, each of which is crucial for creating a delicious final product. In this section, we will cover the steps involved in making Neapolitan pizza, including mixing the dough, proofing the dough, forming the dough, adding the sauce, and toppings.

neapolitan pizza

Mixing the Dough

To make Neapolitan pizza, we start by mixing the dough. We use 00 flour to create a soft and elastic dough that will rise properly.

We also use natural yeast, which gives the dough a unique flavor. We mix the ingredients together, adding water gradually until the dough is wet but not sticky.

Proofing the Dough

After mixing the dough, we let it rest for several hours to allow it to rise properly. This process is called proofing, and it is essential for creating a light and airy crust.

We cover the dough with a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out and leave it in a warm, draft-free place to rise.

Forming the Dough

Once the dough has risen, we divide it into individual portions and form it into balls. We then let the dough balls rest for another hour to allow them to rise again.

After this second rise, we stretch the dough out by hand, forming it into a thin, round shape.

Adding the Sauce

The sauce is a crucial component of Neapolitan pizza, and we use only the freshest ingredients to make it. We start with San Marzano tomatoes, which are known for their sweet flavor and low acidity.

We crush the tomatoes by hand, adding salt and a small amount of olive oil to create a simple yet delicious sauce.

Toppings

Finally, we add the toppings to the pizza. Neapolitan pizza is known for its simplicity, and we use only the freshest ingredients to top our pizzas.

We use fresh mozzarella cheese, which we tear into small pieces and distribute evenly over the pizza. We then add any additional toppings, such as fresh basil, sliced tomatoes, or cured meats.

Making Neapolitan pizza requires attention to detail and the use of high-quality, fresh ingredients. By following these steps, we can create a delicious pizza that is sure to impress.

Cooking Method

When it comes to making Neapolitan pizza, the cooking method is just as important as the ingredients.

In fact, the traditional Neapolitan pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven at high temperatures, which gives it its signature crispy crust and slightly charred flavor.

neapolitan pizza

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the three main components of the Neapolitan pizza cooking method: the wood-fired oven, high temperatures, and pizza stone.

Wood-Fired Oven

The wood-fired oven is a crucial element in the Neapolitan pizza cooking process. The oven is typically made of brick or stone and is heated by burning wood.

The heat from the fire is absorbed by the oven’s walls, which then radiate the heat back onto the pizza. This creates a high-temperature environment that is perfect for cooking Neapolitan pizza.

High Temperatures

One of the defining characteristics of Neapolitan pizza is its thin crust, which is achieved by cooking the pizza at high temperatures.

Traditional Neapolitan pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven that reaches temperatures of up to 900°F (480°C). This intense heat cooks the pizza quickly, resulting in a crispy crust with a slightly chewy texture.

Pizza Stone

Another important component of the Neapolitan pizza cooking method is the pizza stone. The pizza stone is a flat, circular stone that is placed in the oven to absorb and distribute heat.

The stone helps to create an even cooking surface and ensures that the pizza cooks evenly. It also helps to prevent the pizza from sticking to the oven floor.

The cooking method is just as important as the ingredients when it comes to making Neapolitan pizza.

The wood-fired oven, high temperatures, and pizza stone all play a crucial role in creating the perfect Neapolitan pizza.

By cooking the pizza at high temperatures in a wood-fired oven on a pizza stone, we can achieve a crispy crust with a slightly chewy texture that is characteristic of Neapolitan pizza.

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