Pizza Napoletana: Neapolitan Pizza From the Heart of Naples, Italy
As early as 997, the word “pizza” was being used in 16th century Naples to refer to galette flatbread. Later the Italians would cover the bread with oil, cheese and tomatoes, making it the pizza we all know and love today.
Up until the 1830’s, many Italians enjoyed their pizza from open-air stands and street vendors. After the 1830’s, pizzerias began to appear all around Italy, where families and friends could come together and enjoy this delicious Pizza Napoletana.
In the 1880’s the Margherita Pizza was created by the Neapolitan chef, Raffaele Esposito, to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savory. The “Pizza Margherita” included tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil, to represent the colors of the Italian flag. Today, the Margherita Pizza is one of the most popular, recognized pizzas in Naples and around the world.
The True Neapolitan Pizza Association or “Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana”, founded in 1984, has a specific set of parameters that one must follow in order to create an authentic Neapolitan Pizza.
1. The pizza must be baked in a wood fire oven at 485 degrees Celsius for no more than 60-90 seconds
2. The dough must be hand-kneaded and not rolled with a pin
3. The pizza must not exceed 35 centimeters in diameter or be more than a third of a centimeter thick at the center
How to make the perfect Pizza Napoletana Margherita Pizza recipe (no wood fire oven required):
- 8 ounces water
- 1/8 ounce yeast
- 1/4 ounce salt
- 1 pound bread flour
- 1/6 cup olive oil
- 1/8 cup cornmeal
- 2 ounces salt pork or fat back
- 1 onion
- 2 minced cloves of garlic
- 16 ounces fresh crushed plum tomatoes
- 4 ounces tomato puree
- 8 ounces beef stock
- 1 bay leaf
- A pinch of thyme
- 1/2 ounce salt
- 4 cups sliced mozzarella balls
- A bunch of fresh basil leaves
1. Place the water in a large bowl or mixer with a dough hook. Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the remaining ingredients except cornmeal and mix on low speed until a ball is formed. Change to medium speed and mix approximately for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth and elastic dough is formed.
2. Remove the dough from the bowl, cut the dough into 2 portions, roll into tight balls and place in lightly oiled sheet pan, cover and let sit for a minimum of 4 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. To make the sauce, place the salt pork in a large saucepot and render the fat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until the aroma is apparent. Add the crushed tomatoes, puree, and stock to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and salt and allow to simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the bay leaf, puree the sauce and adjust the seasonings.
4. Once the dough is ready, kneed each piece of dough using hands until dough in approximately 1/4-inch thick (you can use a rolling pin if this is easier). Add some tomato sauce to the top of the dough. Crumb on the mozzarella cheese, place the pizza on a sheet pan dusted with cornmeal and bake for 10 minutes then add basil leaves and bake for a few more minutes until crispy and golden.