Napolità cuisine is a culinary journey that takes us to the vibrant streets of Naples, Italy. Bursting with bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and a casual style, Napolità cooking is a true celebration of life’s pleasures. From the world-famous pizza and pasta to the delightful seafood and desserts, Napolità dishes are simple yet packed with intense flavors that nourish both the body and the soul.
The Origins of Napolità Pizza
The history of Napolità cuisine is incomplete without mentioning the iconic Neapolitan pizza. Originating in Naples, Italy, pizza has been a staple in the city for centuries. The story begins in 1830 when Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba opened its doors and introduced pizza topped with tomato sauce and cheese to the masses. This simple yet delicious combination quickly gained popularity, leading to the rise of pizzerias throughout Naples.
By the late 19th century, pizza had become an integral part of Neapolitan life. It was sold on the streets and enjoyed as a meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The famous Margherita pizza, named after Queen Margherita of Savoy, was born out of her love for the pizza made with tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil.
After World War II, American GIs stationed in Naples brought their love for pizza back to the United States, leading to the development of various American variations such as New York style, Chicago deep dish, and California artisanal pizzas. However, the traditional Neapolitan pizza, made with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, fresh basil, and baked in a wood-fired oven, is still considered by many to be the best.
What Makes Napolità Pizza Unique
The uniqueness of Neapolitan pizza lies in several key elements.
Authentic Neapolitan pizza relies on the use of the freshest and highest quality ingredients. The True Neapolitan Pizza Association has set strict rules for the ingredients used in traditional Neapolitan pizza. The dough is made with 00 flour, San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and yeast. Only mozzarella di bufala, made from the milk of water buffalo, is allowed. These components come together to create the classic Margherita pizza that is loved by pizza enthusiasts worldwide.
Neapolitan pizza is baked in a wood-fired oven at extremely high temperatures, reaching around 450°C. This intense heat cooks the pizza in just 60-90 seconds, resulting in a light, airy texture on the inside and a crisp, charred exterior. The rapid cooking process also allows the fresh toppings to remain raw and unmelted, enhancing the overall flavor profile of the pizza.
Neapolitan pizzaiolos take immense pride in their craft. The dough is kneaded by hand, shaped carefully, and topped with an artful arrangement of ingredients. Each pizza is a work of art and a testament to the rich cultural tradition of Naples. The creation of the Margherita pizza, in honor of Queen Margherita of Savoy’s visit to Naples in 1889, exemplifies the artistry and passion that goes into Neapolitan pizza making.
The Ingredients in Napolità Pizza Dough
The key to a perfect Neapolitan pizza lies in the dough, which is made from a few simple ingredients.
The foundation of any pizza dough is flour. Neapolitan pizza uses finely milled soft wheat flour with a high starch and gluten content, known as Tipo 00 flour. This type of flour produces a soft and elastic dough that can be stretched thinly without tearing. While all-purpose flour can be used as a substitute, it may not yield the same light and airy result.
Water is added to the flour to form the dough. Lukewarm water, around 105°F, is used, and the amount needed may vary depending on the humidity and brand of flour. Starting with about 60-70% of the flour weight in water is a good guideline, with the option to add more water gradually if necessary.
Salt enhances the flavor of the dough and helps control the rising process. A general rule of thumb is to add 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of fine sea salt for every 4 to 5 cups of flour. While kosher salt can be used as a substitute, it may result in a slightly saltier crust.
Active dry yeast is used in the dough to facilitate the rising process. The yeast feeds on the starch in the flour, converting the dough’s sugars into carbon dioxide gas, which makes the dough rise. It is recommended to use 1 gram of yeast for every 2 to 3 cups of flour. Ensuring that the water used is not too hot is essential, as excessively hot water can kill the yeast. On the other hand, too little yeast can result in a dense crust.
Olive Oil (Optional)
Some recipes may call for a touch of olive oil in the dough. The addition of olive oil adds richness and helps prevent the dough from drying out during the baking process. While it is not a traditional ingredient in Neapolitan pizza dough, it can be incorporated to suit personal preferences.
To create an authentic Neapolitan pizza at home, it is important to use imported ingredients and bake the pizza in a very hot oven, preferably at least 450°F, on a pizza stone. Allowing the dough to rise for a minimum of 8 hours will maximize its flavor and chewiness. The pizza can be topped with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, shredded mozzarella di bufala, olive oil, salt, and fresh basil. Buon appetito!
How to Make Authentic Napolità Pizza at Home
Making authentic Napolità pizza at home requires a few key ingredients and proper techniques. Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a delicious Neapolitan pizza in your own kitchen.
- 00 flour (doppio zero): This finely ground Italian wheat flour is preferred for its low gluten content, resulting in a softer dough. All-purpose flour can be used as a substitute.
- San Marzano tomatoes: These sweet Italian tomatoes are ideal for making the tomato sauce. If San Marzano tomatoes are unavailable, crushed tomatoes can be used as a substitute.
- Fresh mozzarella: While mozzarella di bufala is traditional, fresh mozzarella will also work well.
- Extra virgin olive oil: For drizzling on the dough and in the sauce.
- Sea salt: To sprinkle on the dough and in the sauce.
- Fresh basil: To top the pizza after baking.
- Make the dough: Mix warm water, yeast, salt, and flour in a bowl. Knead the mixture until it forms a smooth dough. Let the dough rise for 1-2 hours.
- Make the sauce: Simmer the San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, and salt in a saucepan. This will create a flavorful tomato sauce.
- Shape and top the dough: After the dough has risen, punch it down and knead it briefly. Roll out the dough into circles and place them on a floured surface. Spread the tomato sauce on the dough, then top it with cheese and any other desired toppings.
- Bake at 450°F: Preheat your oven with a baking stone inside. Once the oven is preheated, carefully transfer one pizza at a time onto the baking stone. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
- Allow to cool slightly: After removing the pizza from the oven, let it cool for a few minutes. Then, slice and enjoy your authentic Napolità pizza!
By following these essential steps, you can create a classic Neapolitan pizza with a light, airy crust and fresh, vibrant toppings. Your friends and family will surely appreciate the authentic taste of Naples right in your own home. Buon appetito!
Where to Find the Best Napolità Pizza in the US
If you’re craving an authentic taste of Napolità pizza in the United States, there are several places that offer the real deal. These establishments either import ingredients directly from Naples or have mastered the art of Neapolitan-style pizza making. Here are some of the best places to get your Napolità pizza fix:
Una Pizza Napoletana – New York City, New York
Una Pizza Napoletana, located in New York City, was founded by US chef Anthony Mangieri, who trained in Naples. This renowned pizzeria imports all its ingredients from Naples, including the dough, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella di bufala. The pizzas are baked in a handmade Stefano Ferrara oven, reaching temperatures over 900°F, just like in Naples. With a concise menu featuring only five pizzas, Una Pizza Napoletana allows the high-quality ingredients to shine through.
Pizzeria Delfina – San Francisco, California
Pizzeria Delfina, located in San Francisco, was one of the first pizzerias in the US to be certified by the True Neapolitan Pizza Association. They adhere to traditional Neapolitan methods and use authentic ingredients to craft classic pies like the Margherita. The restaurant offers a casual and laid-back atmosphere, along with affordable prices, allowing you to enjoy a true taste of Naples without breaking the bank.
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria – Chicago, Illinois
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria, situated in Chicago, is known for its dedication to the art of authentic Neapolitan pizza making. Pizzaiolo Jonathan Goldsmith studied under Neapolitan masters to perfect his craft. The pizzeria uses imported ingredients and a 2,000-pound Stefano Ferrara oven to create pizzas with a light, airy cornicione (the puffy edge) and a center that is crisp yet foldable. Spacca Napoli has consistently ranked among the best pizzerias in the US and is a favorite among Chicago’s large Italian-American population.
While the United States may not have the warm Mediterranean climate of Naples, these pizzerias, among others, bring the heart and soul of authentic Napolità pizza to American soil. Indulge in a slice and close your eyes, and for a fleeting moment, you can imagine yourself strolling through the streets of Naples. That’s amore!
Napolità cuisine is a culinary treasure that goes beyond the realms of pizza and pasta. It is a celebration of fresh ingredients, bold flavors, and the rich history and culture of Naples, Italy. From the origins of Napolità pizza to the art of creating a perfect dough, this cuisine offers a tantalizing experience for food lovers around the world.
Whether you’re exploring the streets of Naples or recreating the flavors of Napolità in your own kitchen, the essence of this cuisine lies in simplicity, authenticity, and a love for good food. So, embrace the spirit of Napolità and let your taste buds embark on a journey through the vibrant flavors of Naples. Buon appetito!