Pizza gained its modern day notoriety in 1889 when common pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito prepared a pizza in honour of the visiting Queen Margherita of Savoy. He created a pizza with green basil leaves, white mozzarella and red tomatoes to symbolize the colours of the Italian flag. That pizza has since been named Pizza Margherita, and is one of the two most popular pizzas among Neapolitans. The other, Pizza Marinara, is simply tomato, fresh garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil and has roots even earlier than those of the Margherita. To this day, Neapolitans often argue over which is best and which is the true Neapolitan pizza.
Neapolitans take their pizza very seriously. So seriously in fact, that the Associazone Vera Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) was created in an effort to restore and preserve the tradition of authentic pizza making just as it was done over a hundred years ago in Naples. To be considered true Neapolitan Pizza, the AVPN in conjunction with the Italian government and the European Union developed a very specific set of criteria:
- Key ingredients to be used: Double zero flour, San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil
- The pizza must be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven at 485°C for no longer than 60 to 90 seconds
- The dough must be hand-kneaded and must not be rolled with a rolling pin or other device
- Pizzas should measure 3o cm in diameter and are to be 3 mm thick at the centre giving rise to a cornicione (crust) that is 1 to 2 cm in height.
- The pizza should be soft, elastic, and easily foldable into a libretto or “booklet”. The centre should be particularly soft to the touch and taste.
- The finished product is characterized by a raised crust of golden color with hints of char. The white of the mozzarella should appear in evenly spread patches, with the green of the basil leaves, slightly darkened from the cooking process.
- The Pizza Napoletana should be consumed immediately, straight out of the oven, at the pizzeria
In Naples, the Margherita is often dressed with an extra topping or two to vary the flavour. Extra toppings are applied sparingly to maintain the appropriate cooking time and to achieve a balance of flavour. Furthermore, pizzas arrive at the table uncut to preserve the soft thin centre and toppings. Some Neapolitans eat their pizza with a fork and knife, others prefer to rip and fold their pizzas by hand.
As first generation Canadians with deep family roots in Naples, we`ve had the privilege of experiencing vera pizza napoletana on a regular basis. At Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana, we hope to offer the same to our customers – a true Neapolitan experience. Buon appetito