World Pizza Day: how to spot an authentic Italian pizza
Every year on January 17, World Pizza Day is celebrated. A special event for one of the most loved and most popular "Made in Italy" dishes worldwide, which continues to be a leading star with unstoppable success thanks to its myriad versions, ranging from the traditional — ever faithful to its Neapolitan roots — to gourmet versions and those featuring surprising new flavor combinations.
But how do you spot an authentic Italian pizza? Here are some tips for figuring out if your pizza follows the basic rules of the Campania regional cuisine, and how to navigate the countless pizzerias that crowd New Jersey!
6 tips for spotting a top "Made in Italy" pizza
Do you find yourself in the United States and feel like enjoying a great pizza? Let's all learn how to identify an authentic Italian pizza!
NOTE: In this article, we are using Neapolitan pizza as a benchmark, i.e., the quintessential pizza that, when compared to other types, stands out thanks to the kneading of its dough, its raised crust, and its indisputable tenderness. A markedly different result compared to Roman pizza, for example, which is flatter and crispier.
1) Authentic Neapolitan pizza: shape and color
Authentic Neapolitan pizza is typically round in shape, with a diameter of no more than 35 cm. The well-defined crust is about 1-2 cm high, and both the crust and the base must be golden-brown, with very few bubbles or scorched bits. You can find pizzas that are even slightly larger outside Naples, with slightly smaller crusts. Important: The base should not have any holes or cuts!
2) The essential ingredients: mozzarella and tomatoes
The two essential ingredients of a pizza are mozzarella (in Naples, this means buffalo or fior di latte mozzarella) and tomatoes, in both sauce and fresh versions. Added to this are extra virgin olive oil and some fresh basil leaves, creating an original Margherita pizza.
Using this basic structure, pizza as we know it today can be spiced up according to one's personal preferences and creativity, going so far as to include ingredients from the sea, the mountains, different types of cheeses, vegetables, and local ingredients.
3) Baked in a wood-fired oven
Authentic pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven at about 665° F (350° C) for a maximum of 90 seconds. For the sake of convenience, pizza is often baked in electric ovens or on baking sheets; however, the result, albeit pleasant, is a marked departure from the original.
The hallmark of an authentic Italian pizza is the mouth-watering flavor of well-cooked bread, which is accompanied by the zesty tang of tomatoes, the rich flavor of the mozzarella, the spicy bitterness of extra virgin olive oil, and the crisp freshness of basil.
A pizza with well-risen dough is light and melts in the mouth easily, without having to resort to excessive chewing. In Neapolitan pizza, tenderness is key whereas Roman pizza tends to be crispy and slightly brittle.
6) Bye bye grease
Making the pizza more easily digestible is also the judicious use of toppings, both in the preparation of the dough and in garnishing. Experts recommend the "napkin test", in which a slice of pizza is transferred to a cloth or paper napkin: if it doesn't leave any oily residue, the pizza is considered to be good!
Did our tips help you? Keep following the Healthy Italia blog, and stay up to date on the best trends in Italian cuisine!