What is neapolitan pizza - igneus wood fired pizza ovens uk

What is Neapolitan Pizza?

The term ‘Neapolitan’ is definitely a buzz word in the world of pizza, but did you know that for a pizza be considered truly Neapolitan in style, it has to hit a few certain criteria? Pizza is one of those foods that’s eaten the world over, with different styles, variations and takes on doughs, sauces, and toppings, not to mention the way the pizza is actually cooked. However, one thing that there’s definitely no debate on is what makes a Neapolitan pizza, well, Neapolitan. So, stick around to find out exactly what those strictest of criteria actually are!

A Brief History

The origins of pizza in its most simplistic form are somewhat up for debate (we can almost hear Italian’s shouting at us from here in Harrogate!). But seriously, pizza started life as a simple flatbread which was adorned with a variety of basic toppings, nothing really like the pizza we know and love today.

Ancients Egyptians and Greeks are known to have made such dishes, but it was the Romans that really took hold of the basics of pizza, and evolved it into the traditional, authentic Italian pizza we know and love today. This original Italian pizza has its origins in Naples, Italy and it is believed to have been created in the late 18th or early 19th century.

So, what about ‘Neapolitan’ then?

Neapolitan pizza (Italian: pizza Napoletana), also known as Naples-style pizza is that very pizza that was first created way back in the late 18th or early 19th century. It couldn’t be more simplistic in nature, with literally a handful of ingredients consisting of just tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil and fresh basil, on a traditional wheat dough. It gained popularity for two main reasons; it was cheap and easy to make. The pizza had no meat or fish as part of its toppings, therefore it was an accessible food for the poor. In fact, the outright original Neapolitan pizza didn’t even have cheese, as even that was too expensive for the poorest people of Naples.

But make no mistake, Neapolitan pizza might have been a staple dish amongst the lower classes in Italy, but it was also quickly adopted by the richest of Italian society. It really started to gain traction when King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visit Naples during the period, and baker Raffaele Esposito infamously made the Neapolitan pizza for them. He wanted to give them a meal that reflected the colours of the Italian flag, red, green, and white, hence the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. The pizza was an instant hit with the King and Queen, and truly launched Neapolitan pizza as a national dish. You’ve also probably already guessed by now that the Queen’s name, Margherita, is why Neapolitan pizza is now widely known as Margherita the world over.

What makes Neapolitan Pizza so special?

What is less known is that Neapolitan Pizza is protected by the European Union’s Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) status, which ensures that only pizzas made according to traditional methods in Naples or its surrounding areas can be called ‘Neapolitan pizza’. This designation helps preserve the authenticity and integrity of the style and goes some way to explain why Margherita is a more widely known term of what is essentially the same thing.

To highlight even further how far Italians will go to protect the authenticity of Neapolitan pizza, Naples also has a certified pizzerias that only use the traditional methods of making the famous pizza, using those staple four ingredients of San Marzano tomatoes, which are grown in the volcanic soil of the Campania region, fresh mozzarella cheese made from buffalo milk (mozzarella di bufala), fresh basil and the best quality extra virgin olive oil.

The way the pizzas are cooked plays a massive part to this certified status as well. These certified pizzerias use wood fired pizza ovens which give the truly authentic taste which comes from the wood itself and the char it creates on the crust.

Here at Igneus we’re just as passionate about recreating that authentic taste, and all our pizza ovens are wood fired using proper hardwood, rather than wood pellets for example. This creates a hotter, cleaner burn which in turn helps to improve the overall quality of the pizza.

What makes Neapolitan Pizza different then?

As we’ve mentioned previously, the key thing that makes Neapolitan pizza different when compared to other styles of pizza from around the world is it’s simplicity and strict ingredient list! We’ve previously written an article that compares the different styles of pizza and dough from around the world, which you can find here. People love Neapolitan pizza because the flavours are clean and distinctive, and only just enough of each ingredient is used as to not overpower the others. A good example of this is the tomato sauce which couldn’t be more simple in that it uses hand squished San Marzano tomatoes with a touch of olive oil and salt! Other styles of pizza often use tomato sauces that are too complex in nature with ingredients that complete against each other, thus making a sauce that can sometimes be overpowering. This is common on American versions of pizza, such as Chicago or New York Style.

Another differentiator is the dough, which is made from simple, high-quality ingredients, typically flour, water, salt, and yeast, without any added fats or sugars. The use of highly refined, soft-grain flour, such as Italian Tipo 00 flour, is common. The dough undergoes a slow fermentation process, allowing it to develop complex flavours and a soft, elastic texture. It’s crust is also thin, which is noticeably different to pizza even from other parts of Italy.

Igneus Minimo portable wood fired pizza oven - igneus pizza ovens uk

One final thing to mention is the importance of how the pizza is cooked. Using a proper, wood fired pizza oven such as the Igneus Minimo, Bambino or Classico, will enable you to recreate the true Neapolitan style pizza at home for your friends and family to enjoy!

Wood fired cooking gives you the true authentic taste, just like it would have been back in the late 18th or early 19th century. It also cooks the pizza super quickly, in as little as 60-90 seconds!

We really hope you’ve enjoyed this article! If you have any questions about any of the pizza ovens in our range, our team are always on hand to offer help and advice as needed.

Thanks for reading!

Team Igneus