Neopolitan Pizza: Cuisine 101

In Napoli, where food is king, when girl meets pizza here’s what she’ll say: When the food hits your tongue like a thin pizza crust that’s amore!

Alright, so C for Cuisine remix doesn’t have the same ring to it… but, I traveled Italy for 6 weeks and ever since, I’ve been in amore with the Neapolitan Pizza. After a few clicks of the mouse, I recently found out that there’s actually strict guidelines for a certified Neapolitan Pizza. Now I’m not here to discuss whether this is a devious marketing ploy or an endeavor to preserve traditions but since the facts of food are out there, C for Cuisine is here to learn about them…

Once upon the 1980’s, The Verace Pizza Napoletana Assocation (AVPN) was founded. Their mission? To protect and increase the value of the pizzas produced and processed according to the old Neapolitan traditions and customs.  Leave it to the Italians to have a trademark for the “Original Neopalitan Pizza” which is outlined in an eleven page document

After reading the Pizza Bible, here are some (out of several) commandments I found:

1. Two types of AVPN pizza shall be officially authentic:  Margherita (tomato, oil, mozzarella or fior di latte, grated cheese, and basil) and Marinara (tomato, oil, oregano, and garlic).
2. Thou shall use dough made of wheat flour (type 0 or 00), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, sea salt and water (pH level of 6-7). Thou dough shall not contain any fats!
3. Thou shall form the dough exclusively by hand (although mixing the dough is permissible by a mixer on low-speed). This technique, known as staglio a mano whereby the dough is made into small balls, panetti,  reminescent of the technique used in the preparation of mozzarella also done by hand. The dough balls shall weigh between 180 and 250 g.
4. From the center, the thickness shall be no more than 0.4 cm (variance ±10% tolerated).
5. The border shall be no greater than 1-2 cm, forming a frame or crust. The crust known as cornicione is one of the identifying features of the product.
6.  
Thou shall prepare the pizza base by hand. The use of rolling pins and mechanical presses are prohibited. The ‘pizzaiolo’s’ (pizza maker’s)’ skill enables him or her to determine the movement of air in the base ensuring it moves from the centre towards the periphery, thus forming the cornicione.
7. 
Thou shall cook the pizza to 485° C, (905F) for only 60-90 seconds.
8.
Thou shall cook the pizza on the stone surface of the firewood oven NOT in dishes/pizza pans.
9. Thou shall build your oven with the following measurements: The first (entrance dome) with the heigthof 45/50cm, the maximum height of the entrance/access ranges between 22 and 25cm. The base of the oven, according to the tradition ,must range between 140 and 150 cm in diameter.
10.
With regards to condiments and products used, they shall be produced in the Campania region of Italy in order to meet the standards required and maintain the authenticity of the product

 
What results to the end product appearance and taste?   
–  The consistency of the “Verace Pizza Napoletana” (Vera Pizza Napoletana) shall be soft, elastic, easy to manipulate and fold. 
The center should be soft to the taste and touch , where the red of the tomato is evident and to which the oil or for the ‘Pizza Marinara’ the green of the basil and the white of the garlic has perfectly amalgamated.
– The cooked pizza shall bare the result of tomatoes losing all excess water, and shall be dense and consistent.
– The mozzarella di Bufala DOP or the mozzarella STG shall melt on the surface of the pizza.
– In the case of the ‘Pizza Margherita’ the white of the mozzarella shall appear in evenly spread patches, with the green of the basil slightly darkened by the cooking process.
– The taste shall deliver the flavour of well-prepared, baked bread. This mixed with the slightly acidic flavour of the densely enriched tomatoes, and the respective aroma of oregano and garlic or basil and the cooked mozzarella ensures that the pizza, as it emerges from the oven, delivers its characteristic aroma — perfumed and fragrant.
 
 
 
 

 

 
So how does a restaurant get certified? They fly Pepe (yes, that’s really his name) down to the restaurant who trains employees and spends the day making sure everything is up to AVPN standards and ba-da-bing ba-da-boom, you’ve got yourself an AVPN certificate.

 

 But where oh where can you get a taste of authentic Napoli pizza in the Big D? Cavalli Pizza, located in Irving and McKinney, is the only certified “original artisan neapolitan pizza” in the DFW area. Surprisingly, you aren’t able to find the AVPN approved pizzas in Dallas proper but Dough (from San Antonio and AVPN certified) will be opening shop off Preston and Forest in May and the new Il Cane Rosso (located in Deep Ellum) is flirting with the idea of getting the AVPN stamp.
 
  To see other certified pizzas in the US click here.
 
 Stay tuned for an upcoming post on Cavalli Pizza in Irving.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

The information provided is mainly from AVPN’s official website and sparingly from wikipedia.

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