The Amore Ultimate Guide to Neapolitan Pizza [UPDATED]

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What is authentic Neapolitan Pizza?

Four simple ingredients — flour, water, yeast, and salt  inspire the passion that is Neapolitan pizza. Amore is New Mexico’s first and only certified Neapolitan Pizzeria (Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani). Our oven is from Naples, Italy. Our tomatoes, flour and other products are sourced from Naples and around Italy. All of our pizzas are hand-crafted to rigorous standards. Our Pizza Margherita is certified authentic (Specialitá Tradizionale Garantita)

Our tradition and authenticity begin with our ingredients. Antico Molino Caputo’s “00” flour is ideal for classic Neapolitan pizza, producing a very soft and flavorful crust. Tomatoes used on Neapolitan pizzas are grown in Campania, which is home to the city of Naples, and the infamous Mt. Vesuvius. The volcanic soil of this region produces the vibrant, flavorful Ciao Pomodoro di Napoli used on our pizza.  Our fresh mozzarella is hand made in our kitchen every morning. A drizzle of Sogno Toscano’s extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh basil leaves finish your Pizza Margherita. After a brief 60 – 90 seconds in our Stefano Ferrara oven, it’s time to savor the timeless flavors of Naples.

Our beers are New Mexican, our wines are Italian and our hearts are true!

Buon Appetito!

What is the origin of Neapolitan pizza?

Neapolitan pizza is the style of pizza that originated in Naples, Italy. It is very simple by American standards, consisting of dough, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, sometimes Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.

Tomatoes originated in South America, and didn’t make their way to Europe until the 16th century where they were considered poisonous by the upper crust of society because the tomatoes' acidity leached out the lead in the rich folks' pewter plates, causing a noticeable number of deaths by lead poisoning. It wasn’t until someone noticed that late 18th century Italian peasants were putting the tomatoes on their flatbread and living to tell the tale of their deliciousness, that the fruit’s use began to flourish.

The earliest pizzas can be tracked to two centuries ago; the prototype of Neapolitan pizza was born in the back streets of Naples. Street vendors sold flatbreads that were topped with olive oil, sea salt, and chopped garlic. Word got out and city dwellers began flocking to the poorer Naples neighborhoods in order to try this delicious new dish.

In 1889, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy (today, Savoy is part of France, Italy, and Switzerland) visited Naples. A local baker Raffaele Esposito baked a pizza in their honor that featured the queen’s colors of red, white, and green.  With such a royal seal of approval, the Neapolitan pizza became an indisputable culinary attraction.

What are Neapolitan pizza ingredients?

Neapolitan pizza dough consists of Neapolitan wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture), fresh Neapolitan yeast, salt, and water.

The dough is kneaded by hand or with a mixer on low-speed. After rising, the dough must be manipulated by hand (no rolling pins, etc.), and must be no more than three millimeters thick.

The original Neapolitan pizza is called Pizza Margherita (yup, named for that queen of Savoy who probably never imagined she’d be immortalized by a pizza), and it contains only San Marzana tomatoes grown in the volcanic soil of Mt. Vesuvius (yes, the Mt. Vesuvius that obliterated the city of Pompeii in 79 AD), fresh sliced or broken (not grated) mozzarella (either fior di latte - cow’s milk mozzarella or mozzarella di bufala - buffalo milk mozzarella), fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil.

On an ideal Neapolitan pizza, there should be equal amounts of crust, tomato, and cheese, with no one taste overwhelming the others. Americans accustomed to thickly cheesed pizzas will need to adjust their expectations and be ready for an entirely new taste sensation.

How do you make Neapolitan pizza at home?

Do you have a stone, fire burnin oven? If not, you can’t really make a proper Neapolitan pizza at home…

Whether your flames are fed by gas or wood,  the temperature will need to get close to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, and the pizza usually cooks for only 45-90 seconds.

(Yes, we realize that’s a relatively wide time range. There is a lot of trial and error involved in mastering Neapolitan pizza. Come on down to Amore, we’re already mastered this art.)

Are variations really Neapolitan pizza?

It depends on whom you ask. Some purists point to the Margherita as the only true Neapolitan pizza.

Others consider there to be three or four official variations (depending on how you count):

  • Pizza Margherita - topped with tomato, cow’s milk mozzarella, basil, and olive oil.
  • Pizza Margherita extra - same as above, but with mozzarella di bufala.
  • Pizza marinara - topped with tomato, oregano, garlic, and olive oil.
  • Pizza bianca - topped with garlic, olive oil, and rosemary.

There are many other variations, especially outside of Naples, but they are not recognized by purists (though some of them are mighty delicious, like the options we offer at Amore).

Other regions of Italy have their own specialty pizzas. Sicily boasts a thick pizza called sfincione, made with tomatoes and anchovies. Tuscany has a flat pizza called focaccia, made with herbs, olive oil, and toppings like onions. In Rome, pizza al taglio (or by the slice) has more toppings like artichokes, cheese, prosciutto, etc.

On a Neapolitan pizzeria menu, what does DOC mean?

If you spot a “DOC” on the menu, this stands for denominazione di origine controllata. It’s simply a mark that guarantees that the cheese used on the pizza is from a certain region in Italy, and made to certain standards.

We make our own cheese, on site. It can’t get any fresher than that.

What should a Neapolitan pizza look like when it’s done?

Once finished, a Neapolitan pizza should be crisp on the bottom, and feature small dime-sized black char, often called “leopard spots.” They should not taste burned, but should merely add flavor and character to the overall taste experience.

The crust’s upper edges may have a few leopard spots on them. That is acceptable. Too many might indicate that the dough was too cold, or had not risen for the proper amount of time.

Ideally, the crust should be thin on the inside and the outer rim or cornicione (or cornice for you architecture fans out there) should be thick and airy. Think crisp, not cracker-like.

The crust should be chewy and soft. The sliced cheese might be blistered and cover the surface of the pizza unevenly.

How should I eat a Neapolitan pizza? Will the silverware police come after me if I use a knife and fork?

At about 10-12 inches in diameter, Neapolitan pizzas are personal size, and very thin. Most folks will have no trouble finishing one by themselves.

They are not meant to be “taken out” or shared, although many people do and think nothing of it. The crust is so thin, that by the time you get your boxed Neapolitan pizza home, the steam condensation may have rendered it chewy. Fear not: At Amore we’re happy to get you a pizza to go, or box up your left overs - and the box will tell you how to reheat your treat when you get home.

In a restaurant, the pizza will arrive on a plate, and likely be a bit gloppy in the center. This is normal and (by many) desired. Some restaurants will serve more traditional “wet” pizzas, and others will make them dryer. You can decide which you like better.

Manners often go out the window, when patrons get their first taste of Amore’s Neapolitan pizzas. We recommend having a large pile of napkins nearby.
 

Got other Neapolitan pizza questions? Ask us on Facebook!

 

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