Well, it’s official. Italy and Naples are the clear owners of Neapolitan pizza. Unesco, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has given pizza “intangible heritage” status. Meaning it is officially part of Italy’s cultural tapestry. They official own neapolitan pizza.
This makes sense as they’ve been trying to regulate and control pizza for years. Everyone knew that neapolitan style pizza belonged to the fine folks in Naples, where it was originally created, but now it’s official. There’s some comfort in official decrees much as there’s comfort in Neapolitan pizza itself.
Because of strict regulations neapolitan pizza’s consistency is rivaled only by Starbucks. You can walk into any restaurant that features the pizzaiolo mascot (a man in a white outfit and black mask) and know exactly what you’re getting. It’s a sign of quality, fresh cheese, and San Marzano tomatoes. As it’s grown in popularity there have been several liberties taken to the pizza that stalwarts find quite offensive.
Neapolitan Pizza adheres to a strict set of rules. The fine folks at Forno Bravo actually translated the latest update to the regulations around neapolitan pizza. There are eight article that describe how to make the pizza, what flour to use, the temperature of each ingredient, how to serve the pizza and even the signage promoting the use of neapolitan pizza. You can read it in its entirety here.
The regulations are extensive, but if you had created one of the most popular foods and saw it evolve into a medium to house things like buffalo chicken and ranch dressing wouldn’t you go the extra mile to put some rules around the lawless mess? But those rules can stifle creativity. My favorite pizza comes when pizza makers take the neapolitan style and tweak it ever so slightly to create what pizza enthusiasts call “neo-neapolitan” pizza.
Neo-Neapolitan Pizza Enters the Ring
Neo-neapolitan pizza gives the pizzaiolo more control and agency about how to cook the pizza. Whether they want to mess with the shape, cheese and tomatoes, or the temperature of the oven. Neo-neapolitan is an evolution of the classic, and if pizza wants to maintain its ubiquity you’ll see the younger generation adopt fewer guidelines. After all, a refusal to change and adapt has doomed plenty of industries.
A perfect example of neo-neapolitan pizza is what Tony makes at Pizza Taglio. Tony cooks at a lower temperature and plays around with the rise time of dough and core ingredients. It may look like the Wikipedia entry for pizza, but someone from Naples would see the difference almost immediately. The Green Pointer is what happens when someone who knows the rules and regulations around pizza and understands the right way to (respectfully) break them. The creation isn’t disastrous or alarming, it’s familiar but at the same time new and intriguing.
Neo-Neapolitan pizza builds a bridge between the past and future. It’s a fun spin on the classic, but contains enough of the fundamental aspects of pizza to deliver that comfortness that we’ve come to expect from neapolitan pizza.