Unless you are a pizza, the answer is yes, I can live without you - Bill Murray
The Neapolitan or Napoletana, traces it roots to the origins of the pizza world all the way back to Naples, or Genoa, or as some Greeks would say - to the Peloponnesians escaping the Ottomon Turks or even earlier by the Trojans. But enough of the brief history lesson, lets move on to why you are here.
Of all the pizzas, it has the fewest ingredients (only tomatoes and mozzarella, and maybe some basil leaves), leaving a uniquely simple pizza that comes together perfectly like no other. So, with so few ingredients to get 'right, it's even more important to pay close attention to the process.
Unlike a New York-style pizza (which we will review later), the Neapolitan's dough is also quite simple, much like its toppings: made with only flour, water, salt and yeast, with no added oil or sugar like its not-so-distant cousin across the Atlantic.
In terms of visual appeal, a Neapolitan has tell-tale differences that make it stand out from the pizza crowd. It's spotted dark-black char marks found randomly around its crust, poofy exterior, and elegant red, white and green (think basil) interior - make this pizza a work of art.
Finally, in the traditional sense, this pizza is associated with very unique ingredients. So unique in fact that it's labelled a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed product in Europe, making it an item of cultural heritage by UNESCO. Considering it's two ingredients mentioned earlier, the tomatoes are either San Marzano or Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio (grown in the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius), and the Mozzarella is made from the milk of water buffalo or "Fior di Latte di Agerola" - which is cow milk mozzarella made exclusively in Agerola. More so, the pie itself requires a 900F wood-burning oven to get the right char, but that hasn't stopped Holy Grail seekers from finding creative hacks to replicate the process at home. So, if you will, let us find the Holy Grail.
- Cut the mozzarella into small chunks and blot out the liquid by placing between paper towels and resting a plate over it for at least 10 minutes
- Grab one bag of your Neapolitan Pizza dough (see recipe here), and stretch into a 10-inch pizza with a 1 inch border. Special tip: Transfer one ball of dough to a floured surface and lightly cover with flour. Then gently stretch the dough with floured fingertips, and start tossing between both hands until dough stretches.
- Add two tbsps of your premade Neapolitan Pizza sauce (see recipe here)
- Add the pieces of mozzarella, season with a pinch of salt, drizzle 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, and scatter the basil leaves around the middle
- Set rack to highest position and turn on Broiler to HIGH
- In a large Cast-Iron skillet, sprinkle with flour and heat over high heat on stovetop until it begins to smoke
- Place your prepared pizza into the skillet and then transfer to oven's top rack - and keep an eye on it, as it will cook quickly (1-3 minutes), until the crust is puffed and has char spots
- With an oven mitt, remove the skillet from the oven and place back onto the stovetop and cook on high for another 1 minute until the bottom is also darkly charred in spots (you can use a spatula to raise and check)
- Remove from Cast-Iron and place on cutting board, Bon Appétit
*I'm serious, the above recipe is a bit more daunting than the other recipes, and that's only because of how careful you have to be with the ingredients. Because this is such a simple pizza, you really have to pay attention and not rush the details. I'd suggest you only take this on once you have mastered the other pizzas and feel comfortable. And once you get it, you won't go back.