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Pizza Napoletana

Neapolitan wood-fired pizza

Story by John Della Vecchia December 21st, 2013

1000 degrees

Pizza Napoletana is the essence of Naples. Simple, fresh ingredients. Baked in a wood-fired oven in 60 seconds. The crust blisters and takes on a lightness that cannot be duplicated without the intense heat of the fire.


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The quintessential Neapolitan pizza. San Marzano tomatoes crushed by hand, fresh mozzarella barely kissed by the oven, and fresh basil. Topped with a drizzle of oil.



This oliera, or oil can, came from Naples. It is over 100 years old - used in a pizza shop in the early 1900's. I had it refurbished, and it is one of my most prized possessions. These cans are a fixture in pizzerias across Naples and the US.


lemons and salt cod

Some pizzas in Naples have toppings you might not have ever considered. Lemons can be incredibly satisfying on pizza and are traditional to the Amalfi coast. Here they are paired with fried salt cod.


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The crust of this type of pizza takes on a paper thin crispness, with a soft, airy interior. The intense heat of the flame in the oven puffs the crust almost immediately after being placed. The toppings meld into one another and, paired with a hand made, naturally leavened dough, produce a taste experience that is rare and addicting.


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local ingredients

Pizza in Naples is all about local, fresh ingredients. In New England, where I live, a company in Vermont makes smoked pepperoni. In my view, using ingredients local to you takes precedent over whether a Neapolitan would ever put it on a pizza. I think the Neapolitans would agree (although there would be a heated debate with lots of arm waving).


Shitake mushrooms and parsley. Hand-made guanciale with pecorino. Restraint on toppings, both in number and quantity, allow balance in the eating experience.


experimental pies

There is a movement in Naples, now, of combining non-traditional ingredients on pizza. Here is bacon, Pemaquid oysters scraped directly from shell onto the pie, flash-pickled cucumbers, and caviar. Drizzled with heavy cream just out of the oven. Oyster stew on a pizza.



Neapolitans frequently make calzones. Here is one that has scarola (escarole), black olives, capers packed in salt, pecorino cheese, and exceptional olive oil. The scarola is put in raw, and it steams to perfection in the sealed environment.


the peel

The traditional pizza peel in Naples is made of mahogany. This one was made for me from a single plank by a talented pizzaiolo and woodworker.

Footnote: My oven: Forno Bravo Primavera 70
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