You’ve probably seen that word popping up on restaurant menus or spotted colorful bags of chips at the grocery store: Napolità. But what exactly is Napolità? No, it’s not a typo for “Neapolitan” – it’s something completely different. Napolità refers to a vibrant cuisine that originated in Naples, Italy. Known for its bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and casual style, Napolità cooking will transport you to the bustling streets of Naples with every bite. From pizza and pasta to seafood and desserts, dishes are often simple but pack an intense punch of flavor. If you love big, unpretentious flavors and eating with gusto, you need to get to know Napolità. This cuisine is all about embracing life’s pleasures and savoring each moment – ideally with a glass of wine or limoncello in hand and good company by your side. Napolità is a way of cooking that nourishes both the body and the soul.
The Origins of Napolità Pizza
Napolità pizza originated in Naples, Italy, where flatbread with simple toppings has been made for centuries. Around 1830, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba opened and started selling pizza with tomato sauce and cheese. This basic recipe became popular and led to the rise of pizzerias all over Naples.
By the late 19th century, pizza had become a staple of Neapolitan life. It was sold on the street and eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The classic Margherita pizza was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy who, according to legend, so loved the pizza made with tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil that she requested those toppings.
After World War II, American GIs stationed in Naples brought their love of pizza back to the States. Pizza popularity spread and led to the development of American variations like New York style, Chicago deep dish, and California artisanal pizzas. However, traditional Neapolitan pizza – made with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, fresh basil, and baked in a wood-fired oven – is still considered by many to be the best.
If you want to make authentic Napolità pizza at home, use imported ingredients and bake the pizza in a very hot oven (at least 450 F) on a pizza stone. Let the dough rise for at least 8 hours for maximum flavor and chewiness. Top with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, shredded mozzarella di bufala, olive oil, salt, and fresh basil. Buon appetito!
Napolità pizza is meant to be shared and savored. Take your time enjoying a slice of Italy’s culinary history.
What Makes Napolità Pizza Unique
What makes Neapolitan pizza so special? Quite a few things, actually.
Real Neapolitan pizza uses only the freshest, highest quality ingredients according to strict rules set by the True Neapolitan Pizza Association. The dough must be made with 00 flour, San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and yeast. Mozzarella di bufala, made from the milk of water buffalo, is the only cheese allowed. These components create the classic margherita pizza.
Baked in an extremely hot wood-fired oven, Neapolitan pizza reaches temperatures of 450°C, cooking a pizza in just 60-90 seconds. This high, dry heat gives the crust a light, airy texture on the inside and a crisp, charred exterior. The rapid cooking also allows the fresh toppings to remain raw and unmelted.
Neapolitan pizzaiolos (pizza makers) take immense pride in their craft. Dough is kneaded by hand, shaped carefully, and topped with an artful arrangement of ingredients. Each pie is a work of art and a source of cultural tradition. According to legend, margherita pizza was created to honor Queen Margherita of Savoy’s visit to Naples in 1889.
Whether you visit Naples or try an authentic Neapolitan pizza locally, you’ll soon understand why this iconic dish is considered a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. With its perfect blend of fresh ingredients, wood-fired taste, and artisanal style, real Neapolitan pizza is a global treasure.
The Ingredients in Napolità Pizza Dough
The classic Neapolitan pizza crust is made from just a few simple ingredients.
The foundation of any pizza dough is flour. Neapolitan pizza uses a finely milled soft wheat flour with a high starch and gluten content, known as Tipo 00 flour. This flour produces a soft and elastic dough that can be stretched thinly without tearing. All-purpose flour can work as a substitute but may not produce quite the same light and airy result.
Water is added to the flour to form the dough. Use lukewarm water, around 105°F. The amount of water needed can vary depending on the humidity and brand of flour. Start with around 60-70% of the flour weight in water. You can always add more water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
Salt enhances the flavor of the dough and helps control the rising process. For every 4 to 5 cups of flour, add 1 to 1 1⁄2 teaspoons of fine sea salt. Kosher salt can work but may produce a slightly saltier result.
Active dry yeast feeds on the starch in the flour, converting the dough’s sugars into carbon dioxide gas that makes the dough rise. Use 1 gram of yeast for every 2 to 3 cups of flour. Make sure the water is not too hot, or it can kill the yeast. Too little yeast will produce a dense crust.
That covers the basics. Some recipes also call for a touch of olive oil, which adds richness and helps prevent the dough from drying out. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, usually 1 to 2 hours. Punch it down, knead briefly then roll or stretch out thinly. Top as desired and bake in a very hot 450 F oven until the crust is golden brown. Enjoy your authentic Neapolitan pizza!
How to Make Authentic Napolità Pizza at Home
To make authentic Napolità pizza at home, you’ll need to gather a few key ingredients and follow some essential steps.
- 00 flour (doppio zero): Finely ground Italian wheat flour with a lower gluten content that results in a softer dough. All-purpose flour can work as a substitute.
- San Marzano tomatoes: Sweet Italian tomatoes that are perfect for the sauce. If unavailable, use crushed tomatoes.
- Fresh mozzarella: Mozzarella di bufala is traditional but fresh mozzarella will also work great.
- Extra virgin olive oil: For drizzling on the dough and in the sauce.
- Sea salt: For sprinkling on the dough and in the sauce.
- Fresh basil: To top the pizza after baking.
- Make the dough. Mix warm water, yeast, salt, and flour. Knead until smooth then let rise for 1-2 hours.
- Make the sauce. Simmer crushed tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, and salt.
- Shape and top the dough. Punch down the dough and knead briefly. Roll out into circles and place on a floured surface. Spread sauce on dough, then top with cheese and any other toppings.
- Bake at 450 F. Place a baking stone in the oven as it preheats. Once preheated, carefully transfer one pizza at a time to the stone. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
- Allow to cool slightly, then slice and enjoy your authentic Napolità pizza! Buon appetito!
Following these essential steps will allow you to make a classic Neapolitan pizza with a light, airy crust and fresh, vibrant toppings. Your friends and family will surely appreciate you bringing an authentic taste of Naples right into your own home!
Where to Find the Best Napolità Pizza in the US
If you want to taste authentic Napolità pizza in the US, you have to know where to look. Some spots are bringing the real deal over from Naples, while others are crafting Neapolitan-style pies to perfection. Here are a few of the best places to get your Napolità pizza fix:
Una Pizza Napoletana, New York City
Anthony Mangieri, a US chef trained in Naples, opened Una Pizza Napoletana in NYC. Everything from the dough to the San Marzano tomatoes to the fresh mozzarella di bufala is imported straight from Naples. The pizzas are baked in a handmade Stefano Ferrara oven, reaching over 900°F, just like in Naples. With only 5 pizzas on the menu, Una Pizza Napoletana lets the high-quality ingredients shine through.
Pizzeria Delfina, San Francisco
Pizzeria Delfina was one of the first pizzerias in the US to be certified by the True Neapolitan Pizza Association. They use traditional Neapolitan methods and ingredients to craft classic pies like the Margherita in a massive Acunto oven. The restaurant has a casual, laid-back vibe and affordable prices, so you can enjoy a true taste of Naples without breaking the bank.
Spacca Napoli Pizzeria, Chicago
At Spacca Napoli in Chicago, pizzaiolo Jonathan Goldsmith studied under Neapolitan masters to learn the art of authentic pizza making. He uses imported ingredients and a 2,000-pound Stefano Ferrara oven to create pizzas with a light, airy cornicione (the puffy edge) and a center that’s crisp yet foldable. Spacca Napoli has ranked among the best pizzerias in the US and is a favorite of Chicago’s large Italian-American population.
The US may not have the warm Mediterranean climate of Naples, but at these pizzerias—and a few others—you’ll find the heart and soul of authentic Napolità pizza alive and well. Have a slice and close your eyes, and for a moment you can imagine yourself strolling through the streets of Naples. That’s amore!
So now you’re armed with the basics about napolità. You know it’s a delicious Italian ice cream with an intriguing history in Naples. Beyond the taste, though, napolità represents so much more. It’s about community, artistry, and cultural tradition. The next time you enjoy a cool scoop of napolità, think of the generations of Neapolitans who have shared in that same experience. Think of the craft and care that went into making that single scoop. Most of all, think of how such a simple thing can be so deeply connected to a place and its people. Napolità may be sweet, but its impact is far more profound. Now get out there and experience it for yourself! Buon appetito!