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One of the oldest trench warfare battles in American culinary history, aside from regional barbecue, is style of pizza. More specifically, New York-style pizza versus Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Sure, there are other regional varieties of pizza, but most of those are just variations of these two types of pizza, anyways. The one type of pizza that gets generally overlooked by the general population is Neapolitan-style pizza, and it is the best of all.
Unfortunately, Neapolitan pizza is seen as a snooty, high-end option because the majority of places that sell Neapolitan pizza are snooty Italian restaurants that charge you $18 for a 10-inch pizza. However, if you know where to look, you can find good Neapolitan pizza at a reasonable price. My two favorite places are Re Napoli in Old Greenwich, CT and Antico Pizza Napolitano in Atlanta, GA. Best pizza you’ll ever have. So, while you New Yorkers and Chicagoans collapse from high blood pressure, allow me to explain why, exactly, Neapolitan blows every other pizza out of the water.
The ingredients are always superior. Other styles of pizza rely on pure volume of ingredients. Sure, there are places that may use better ingredients and tastier cheese than your run-of-the-mill pizzeria, but Neapolitan pizza requires the best of the best. Most important are the tomatoes. Neapolitan doesn’t use any of that low-rent tomato paste or tangy, acidic Roma tomato sauce. Neapolitan requires fresh crushed or diced San Marzano tomatoes. These are the best tomatoes not only for pizza sauce but for pasta sauce as well.
A complaint I often get when showing my favorite Neapolitan pizza to friends is that there’s not enough cheese. Well, when you’re not using cheap, overly processed cheese you don’t need to pile on a cheese mountain. Most Neapolitan pizzas use bufala mozzarella, made from the milk of Italian water buffalo. It sounds exotic, but it’s an Italian tradition, and it’s very tasty. You won’t miss the extra cheese when you eat this stuff.
Speaking of tradition, the most unique feature of Neapolitan pizza is the crust. Neapolitan pizza uses Italian Tipo “00” flour, which is a soft wheat flour. There is an unwritten rule that one cannot call their pizza Neapolitan-style without it. Germans have beer purity laws, Italians have pizza purity laws. Go figure. It makes the dough thin and soft, and the crust crispy from the wood-fired stone pizza oven. It has a light flavor that is not overwhelming, enhancing the flavor of the tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, and any other toppings you may desire on it. And there are so many varieties of toppings if you even want them. The cheese (Margherita) pizza is usually good enough, but you can get real pepperoni, Italian ham, sausage, or any other multitude of toppings that you can get on the other styles of pizza. But since so much work is put into the Neapolitan pizza, the ingredients will all be high quality and fresh.
Good pizza isn’t about volume. It’s not about grease. It’s about quality ingredients and great flavor. You can still fill yourself up with Neapolitan pizza, but you will also enjoy a flavorful experience from top quality toppings with the topping to crust thickness ratio being very, very high. You can pile processed mozzarella on the crust and won’t get the flavor you can get from one ball of bufala. You can drench your pizza in tomato sauce and get just enough flavor to be a step below San Marzano sauce. But you can’t match the superiority of Neapolitan pizza, even with excellent New York-style or Chicago-style deep dish pizza. .
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