A Slice of History
Pizza as we know it today was invented in Naples, Italy. Before the 1700s, flatbreads existed but were never topped with tomatoes — now a defining characteristic of pizza. Tomatoes were brought to Europe in the 16th century by explorers returning from Peru, but they were believed to be poisonous by many Europeans until poor peasants in Naples began to top their flatbread with it in the late 18th century. The dish soon became popular, with visitors to Naples seeking out the poorer neighbourhoods to try the local specialty.
Baker Raffaele Esposito, who worked at the Naples pizzeria “Pietro… e basta così,” is generally credited with creating Margherita pizza, now known as the classic Neapolitan-style pizza. In 1889 and Queen Margherita of Savoy visited Naples and Esposito baked them a pizza named in honour of the queen whose colours mirrored those of the Italian flag: red (tomatoes), white (mozzarella), and green (basil leaves).
Authentic Neapolitan Pizza
An authentic Neapolitan pizza has a crust made from a dough that is made with highly-refined Italian type 00 wheat flour, Neapolitan or fresh brewer’s yeast (not dry yeast), water, and salt. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer and formed by hand, without the help of a rolling pin. The dough is topped with raw, hand crushed San Marzano tomatoes from Italy, fior di latte (mozzarella cheese made from cow’s milk), or mozzarella di Bufala (mozzarella cheese made from the milk of water buffalos, usually raised in the Campania and Lazio marshlands in Italy), fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil. The ingredients must be all-natural and fresh. The pizza is baked for 60–90 seconds (baking time cannot exceed 90 seconds) in a minimum 850°F (450 degree celsius) oven with a wood fire.
What to Expect
Neapolitan pizzas are typically 10-12″ in diameter. Alessandro makes a rustic 12″, which he thinks is the perfect size for one hungry person, or for two people wanting a light snack!
If you’re used to your pizza piled high with hundreds of different toppings, drenched in cheese and barbeque sauce, you’re in for a surprise. We keep our ingredients simple and our toppings light – we want you to taste the basil, the sweet tomatoes, the fresh mozzarella! The key to a good neapolitan pizza is simplicity, and for that reason we usually stick to just a few toppings on our pizzas.
The best Neapolitan pizzas should have a thin layer of crispness to the crust, with an interior that is moist, poofy, and cloud-like with good, stretchy chew, and plenty of flavour. Even browning is not what you’re looking for. Rather, you want a leopard-spotted look, with many small dark spots surrounded by paler dough. True Neapolitan pizzas are not stiff—you can’t easily pick them up as a slice, so you may need to fold and let your mouth do the rest—a fork and knife are perfectly acceptable utensils.