What Is Neapolitan Pizza? (Recipe, difference, & More)

If you love pizza, then you’re probably familiar with Neapolitan pizza. It’s a style of pizza that’s been around for centuries and was invented in Naples, Italy. So what makes it so different from other styles? In this blog, we will introduce “What is Neapolitan Pizza” and what you need to know about it.

The History Of Neapolitan Pizza

Neapolitan pizza originated from street food sold on the streets of Naples during the 1700s. It was originally made with simple ingredients—tomato, garlic, olive oil, cheese, and basil—and eaten by peasants in Italy. By 1889, Queen Margherita of Italy tried the dish and loved it so much that she asked her chef to make it for her every day.

The History Of Neapolitan Pizza

The invention and popularization of tomato sauce is credited to the Neapolitan Raffaele Esposito. In 1866, he created a pie topped with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil to honor the Queen. This new recipe became known as “Pizza Margherita” and is still popular today as an authentic Italian pizza.

What is Neapolitan Pizza?

Neapolitan pizza is a style of pizza that originated in Naples, Italy. The term “Neapolitan” is used to describe the roundness of the pizza and its ingredients. A Neapolitan pizza should be round and have a diameter between 15 and 20 centimeters (6 and 8 inches).

The dough must be soft, elastic, smooth, and moist; a little bit sticky. The crust should not be too thick nor too thin, but rather on the thicker side (about 2 cm). Toppings should be added sparingly so that they don’t cover more than half of the surface area.

The cheese should be made from cow’s milk or a combination of cow’s milk and sheep’s milk; it should not contain any vegetable oils or fats. Most importantly, it mustn’t come from industrial production: it has to be made by hand in small batches with traditional methods and cannot contain any additives or preservatives.

How Is Neapolitan Pizza Different Than Regular Pizza You’re Used To?

You already know “What is Neapolitan Pizza”, so how is it different from Regular Pizza? Neapolitan pizza is known around the world for its use of fresh, high-quality ingredients, hand-tossed crust, and glorious indulgence. While you can get Neapolitan-style pizza at many restaurants these days, you may be wondering: how does it differ from more “regular” pizza? Here are five differences to help you better understand the beauty behind the traditional Neapolitan pizza.

Size

Size Of Neapolitan Pizza And Regular Pizza

Neapolitan pizzas are small and meant to be eaten by just one person, while regular pizzas are larger and typically shared by people at a table or party.

The dough

The Dough Of Neapolitan Pizza And Regular Pizza

A traditional Neapolitan pizza rests on a thin, soft base that acts as a vehicle for the simple yet delicious toppings. Some people compare it to focaccia, but it’s actually much thinner and lighter. The crust is prepared using only flour, water, salt, and yeast—no sugar or oil is added. Simple doughs are also more likely to pick up flavors from other ingredients in the recipe, so they’re ideal for enhancing the taste of certain toppings.

The cheese

The Cheese Of Neapolitan Pizza And Regular Pizza

Mozzarella is a key ingredient when it comes to most pizzas—it melts beautifully and adds a touch of creaminess that’s perfect with just about any topping combination you can dream up. But Neapolitan chefs prefer to use burrata rather than mozzarella: while both are made from cow’s milk, burrata has a richer, more buttery taste, which complements the taste of tomatoes. Mozzarella can be used in Neapolitan pizza recipes, but it’s best to use whole milk mozzarella or fior di latte.

The sauce

The Sauce Of Neapolitan Pizza And Regular Pizza

Neapolitan pizza only uses very few toppings: usually just tomato sauce, a little mozzarella cheese, and some fresh toppings like fresh basil or sea salt. The sauce is simple and flavorful, which is an important element in the pizza. The sauce is also one of the key components of pizza’s overall flavor, so don’t forget to use a good quality one.

Cooking Method

Cooking Method Of Neapolitan Pizza And Regular Pizza

Neapolitan pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven at high temperatures for a short period of time, while regular pizza may be baked in an oven or cooked on a stovetop.

Neapolitan Style Pizza Variations 

A common variation of Neapolitan pizza is the Marinara, which omits cheese. Like the Margherita, it is made with tomatoes and garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. It is usually topped with oregano, and fresh or dried basil leaves.

The Pizza Napoletana (or Pizza Napoli) is another variation of Neapolitan pizza, similar to the marinara but with the addition of anchovies. If you like anchovies, this combination makes for a fantastic pizza.

Another version is the Pizza Alla capricciosa, which includes artichoke hearts, cooked ham, and mushrooms.

Yet another version is Pizza Alla Pugliese, with tomato, mozzarella, onion, and anchovies.

A popular variant from Naples is Pizza Margherita Extra made with tomatoes, sliced mozzarella di bufala Campana (the most highly valued mozzarella), fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil.

Why It’s So Tricky To Make Right At Home.

We’re not talking about making pizza at home, which is perfectly doable. We’re talking about making a true Neapolitan pizza, the kind you get in Naples and other places where it’s a local specialty. That means a thin, pillowy crust with char spots, blistered from the heat of the oven, with a healthy smear of tomato sauce and a couple of slices of fresh mozzarella on top.

Why is it harder to recreate the Neapolitan-style pizza at home? The two factors are the super-high heat of a wood-fired oven — up to 900°F — and the short cooking time, which will vary depending on how big your pie is but can be as little as 90 seconds.

For a truly authentic Neapolitan pizza to be made at home, you have to have a wood-burning oven. A wood-burning oven is one that comes up to temperature with wood and all of the heat is generated by the wood, even though you might cook with gas or electricity once it’s up to temperature. No matter what type of oven you’re cooking in, the idea is the same: get it as hot as possible. That’s why most pizza places have huge ovens that go up to 800 or 900 degrees F.

In a normal home oven, you can only go up to 550 degrees. You can buy infrared thermometers for measuring how hot your surface gets. If you can get your surface to around 500 degrees F, then you can get close to Neapolitan pizza at home. It’s possible to make a good version at home even with normal household appliances, but it will take some practice and some trial and error.

How To Make Neapolitan Pizza Dough

Here are my tips on how to make great pizza dough:

Step 1

You need strong white flour, not plain or self-raising flour. I use Caputo 00 flour or Tipo ’00’ flour which is excellent for making pizza, bread, and pasta.

Step 2

Knead the dough by hand for 10 minutes. It is best to knead on a lightly floured surface. A stand mixer can also be used to do this job.

Step 3

The dough can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours in an airtight container. The longer you wait, the more flavorsome your pizza will be as the yeast has time to ferment and develop more flavor. If you refrigerate your dough for over 48 hours, you will need to leave it at room temperature for about 2-3 hours before working with it, otherwise it will be too hard to stretch out.

FAQs

Neapolitan Pizza: Does the Pie Really Have Basil?

I get asked this question a lot. I can’t blame people for asking because even many of the best pizzerias in Naples don’t put basil on their pizza. The reason is simple: authenticity.  The original Neapolitan pizza has only five ingredients – flour, water, yeast, salt, and tomatoes. In a real Neapolitan pizza, you will never find basil.  It wasn’t until several years later that non-Neapolitans started adding other ingredients to their pizzas – like mozzarella cheese and basil. This created what we now call “Margherita pizza.”

Neapolitan Pizza: Healthier Than You Think?

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a single serving of Neapolitan pizza has only around 240 calories. This is significantly lower than the number of calories in most other types of pizzas. In addition, Neapolitan pizzas also have fewer unhealthy ingredients like trans fats and saturated fats that can lead to heart disease.

What Is The Difference Between Sicilian And Neapolitan Pizza?

Neapolitan Pizza is the traditional Italian pizza that originated in Naples. Its dough is made from Italian 00 flour and contains yeast, water, and salt, which causes the crust to be soft and thin. It’s cooked at a high temperature in a wood-burning oven for less than 90 seconds. Neapolitan pizza consists of fresh tomato sauce topped with cheese or other fresh ingredients such as vegetables or seafood. Due to its short cooking time, the crust is soft and chewy.

Sicilian Pizza is thick and rectangular shaped. The dough is made from semolina flour and contains yeast, water, olive oil, and salt or sugar. This creates a crunchy and chewy crust. Sicilian pizza is cooked in an electric pan to cook all three layers — sauce, toppings, and cheese — together. The result is a crispy crust that has toppings stuffed inside it. Sicilian pizza doesn’t have cheese on top of the sauce like Neapolitan pizza does but rather under it, giving the pizza more flavor and making it heavier than Neapolitan pizza

How Long Does It Really Take To Make An Authentic Neapolitan Pizza?

The 48-hour process to make a perfectly crisp-chewy crust, spicy tomato sauce, and milky mozzarella takes time and lots of it. But it’s worth it.

Conclusion

This is a brief answer by Saved By The Max to the question “What is Neapolitan Pizza?” Neapolitan pizza is a renaissance pizza style. Earthy and fiery without being too spicy, tomatoes merge with cheese (and not overwhelming it) to create something new yet old, with pepperoni and other toppings added on for good measure for a complete experience. Neapolitan pizza does not try to be anything else – there are many styles but this one is the simplest and that is its beauty because when the ingredients come together in perfect unison; nothing else is necessary.

Staff Writer At Saved By The Max

Hi, my name is Janet. I am the co-owner of Saved By The Max and a chef by trade. I studied food, art, and music in college and enjoy cooking French food as well as making craft drinks like cocktails and kombucha on tap!

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