Neapolitan style pizza is a traditional Italian pizza that originated in Naples. It is known for its thin and crispy crust, fresh ingredients, and unique cooking method. But what exactly sets Neapolitan style pizza apart from other types of pizza? In this article, we will delve into the details of Neapolitan style pizza, exploring its history, ingredients, techniques, and more.
**What is Neapolitan Style Pizza?**
Neapolitan style pizza is a type of pizza that originated in Naples, Italy. It is characterized by its thin and slightly chewy crust, with the signature leopard-spotting caused by the high temperatures of the wood-fired oven. The traditional Neapolitan pizza is minimalist in its presentation, using only a few basic ingredients to let the flavors shine through.
**History of Neapolitan Style Pizza**
Neapolitan style pizza has a rich history that dates back to the 18th century. It was first created in Naples, Italy, by pizza makers called “pizzaioli”. These skilled artisans used simple, local ingredients to create a delicious and affordable meal for the working class.
The Neapolitan pizza gained popularity in Naples and eventually spread to other parts of Italy. In the late 19th century, Italian immigrants brought the recipe to the United States, where it became a staple in Italian-American cuisine. Today, Neapolitan style pizza can be found all over the world, showcasing its enduring appeal and popularity.
**The Ingredients of Neapolitan Style Pizza**
One of the key elements that sets Neapolitan style pizza apart is the quality of the ingredients. Traditional Neapolitan pizza must be made with specific ingredients to meet the standards set by the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), the governing body that certifies authentic Neapolitan pizza.
The main ingredients for Neapolitan style pizza include:
1. **Dough**: Neapolitan pizza dough is made with just four ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast. The dough is typically mixed by hand and left to rise for several hours, resulting in a light and airy crust.
2. **San Marzano tomatoes**: These unique tomatoes are grown in the volcanic soil of Mount Vesuvius and are considered the gold standard for tomato sauce in Neapolitan pizza. They are known for their rich flavor and low acidity.
3. **Buffalo mozzarella**: For the cheese, Neapolitan pizza uses buffalo mozzarella, also known as mozzarella di bufala. This soft and creamy cheese is made from the milk of water buffalo and adds a distinct richness to the pizza.
4. **Basil**: Fresh basil leaves are added to Neapolitan pizza for a burst of aroma and freshness.
5. **Extra-virgin olive oil**: A drizzle of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil is added to the pizza just before serving to enhance the flavors.
**The Techniques of Neapolitan Style Pizza**
Creating a perfect Neapolitan style pizza requires skill and attention to detail. The techniques used in making Neapolitan pizza are specific and are part of what makes it so unique.
1. **Hand-stretched dough**: Neapolitan pizza dough is traditionally stretched by hand, giving it a slightly irregular shape and a thin center with a puffy edge.
2. **Wood-fired oven**: Neapolitan style pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven that reaches high temperatures of around 900°F (480°C). The quick cooking time in the hot oven results in the characteristic leopard-spotting and a crisp, blistered crust.
3. **Short cooking time**: A Neapolitan pizza is cooked for only about 60 to 90 seconds in the wood-fired oven. This short cooking time ensures that the toppings remain fresh and vibrant.
**Variations of Neapolitan Style Pizza**
While the traditional Neapolitan style pizza follows strict guidelines, there are variations that have become popular over time. These variations often incorporate non-traditional toppings and cooking methods. Some popular variations include:
1. **Margherita pizza**: This is the classic Neapolitan pizza, topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, and fresh basil leaves.
2. **Marinara pizza**: This is another classic Neapolitan pizza topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, and a drizzle of olive oil. It does not include cheese.
3. **Pizza Napoletana with toppings**: While Neapolitan pizza is traditionally topped with simple ingredients, some variations include additional toppings like fresh vegetables, cured meats, and other artisanal cheeses.
4. **Non-wood-fired Neapolitan pizza**: While the traditional Neapolitan pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven, some modern pizzerias use gas or electric ovens to achieve similar results.
**Frequently Asked Questions**
**What is the origin of Neapolitan style pizza?**
Neapolitan style pizza originated in Naples, Italy, in the 18th century.
**What is the difference between Neapolitan style pizza and other types of pizza?**
Neapolitan style pizza is known for its thin and crispy crust, minimal toppings, and wood-fired cooking method.
**What are the key ingredients of Neapolitan style pizza?**
The key ingredients of Neapolitan style pizza include dough made with flour, water, salt, and yeast, San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, and extra-virgin olive oil.
**Can I make Neapolitan style pizza at home?**
While it may be challenging to replicate the exact results of a wood-fired oven, you can make a version of Neapolitan style pizza at home using a pizza stone or a high-temperature oven.
Neapolitan style pizza is a culinary treasure that has captured the hearts and taste buds of pizza lovers worldwide. Its simplicity and focus on high-quality ingredients make it a delightful and satisfying dining experience. Whether you enjoy a classic Margherita or an adventurous variation, Neapolitan style pizza is a true testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of Italian pizza making. So, the next time you take a bite of this delicious pizza, savor the flavors and appreciate the centuries-old tradition that brought it to your plate.