Amongst the chaos of trash-littered streets, whizzing cars and vespas, and whistling men dressed in various shades of purple, in Naples, Pizza is king.
Pizza: a fantastical almost hypnotizing dish with baffling simplicity. Flour, Water, and Yeast are the main components to this traditional recipe that helped to put Italy on the map as one the world’s most respected food capitals. Born in Naples, it is here that pizza is not only a filling dinner, but a testament to the very heart Neapolitan culture.
Unlike other pizza variations, the Pizza Napoletana can be recognized by its slightly raised crust and chewy texture. This pizza is a bit more doughy than the Roman variation, which is typically flat and crunchy. The most typical recipe is the Pizza Margherita, which is simply fresh tomato sauce, Buffalo Mozzarella, and fresh basil.
Enzo Coccia, head Pizzaiolo at “La Notizia” pizzeria in the heart of Naples, explained with emotion the world of pizza that separates Naples from the rest of Italy. “In the 1980s, Pizza Napoletana became a mass consumer product, with pizzerias in the city growing from 250 to 1300 in just a few years. When a product becomes mass consumed, it loses its identity.”
While top quality ingredients such as Caputo double 00 flour, and San Marzano tomatoes go into making a top quality pizza napoletana, Enzo explains that the most important ingredient is passion and concern for the product itself. Coming from a family of pizza makers, being a Pizzaiolo for Enzo isn’t simply to pay the bills, but rather, as an homage to his family and to his city’s culinary traditions.
He also added that the right oven is key in creating the perfect texture and “cottura” (baking). At La Notizia, the oven was one of the restaurants most serious investments. Costing almost 15,000 Euro ($18,000) the oven was constructed using bricks made with ash from Mt. Vesuvius, by hand. No electric $3,000 oven could replicate the pizzas that came flying out of Enzo’s oven of gold.
Not to mention, this was one of the most awesome pizzas I’ve ever had in my life. The slightly chewy and soft texture of the dough, the sweet and tangy flavor of the tomato sauce, the spice of the fresh garlic. My mouth was exploding in sensory ecstasy.
Ah, Naples… How I love thee.
And of course, a video because who doesn’t want to see me get violated by an overenthusiastic Neapolitan pizza man? Pardon the video quality my friend Alice is an idiot. :-D