When you make pizza for a living, Naples is your Mecca. Naples is a place that is known for amazing pizza. Establishments there have been making pizza for over a century. They have perfected the dough, the sauce, and the cheese. Pizza is a craft and people will wait in line for hours for their favorite pie.
We traveled to Naples for less than 48 hours and were determined to find our perfect pie. 4 pies for lunch, 4 pies for dinner, tums for dessert, it was a great day. After tasting the greats, this is what we learned:
1. Less is more: You don’t need a lot of toppings or sometimes any. My favorite pizza ended up being simply marinara, oregano and olive oil. It was sublime in its simplicity and somehow decadent. Too often, we pile pizzas with tons of ingredients and then lose out on being able to enjoy each ingredient for its own beauty.
2. Showcase only the highest of ingredients: At each location, there was great thought put into what tomatoes to use or where to get the perfect mozzarella. At one of the pizza places, we happened to sit next to a flour supplier who was discussing with two potential American clients what flour made the best pizza and why. It was fascinating to listen to the differences in flour and how the purpose (bread, pastries, pizza dough) had such a pivotal role to play in what type of flour you used. It is easy to overlook such a simple ingredient as flour but after listening to the flour supplier I realized not to make that mistake again!
3. Balance is more than just individual ingredients: A pizza is made up of dough, sauce, cheese and toppings, and while each ingredient is extremely important they all have to weave together. We had one pizza where the cheese overpowered the sauce and another where the sauce highlighted the cheese perfectly. It was amazing to see the differences and how some pizzas were completely balanced and others were slightly off.
4. There is truth in tradition: A lot of focus in cuisine today is on reinventing traditional dishes, putting a spin on grandma’s table. While it can result in fun and playful dishes, you sometimes can get to far away from the classic. We tried a fried pizza at one location and while it was good, it didn’t hold a candle to the classic pizza. There is a reason traditions exist and we shouldn’t overlook that.
5. Most importantly we learned…When it is great pizza, you can always have one more slice.