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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Iannelli-Rubin

What is Neapolitan Pizza or Pizza Napoletana?

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

It's National Pizza Day, so of course, I am talking all about pizza!

Neapolitan Pizza or Pizza Napoletana or Naples style pizza, is a type of pizza that originated in Naples, Italy, where my family is from. My mother and father were both born in la Campania, Napoli. My mom lived in the city of Nola, my father lived in the country side San d'Angelo dei Lombardi. As you can imagine, I have very strong connections to La Campania! I've been back twice, and plan to be back more in the future, once this pandemic ends.

Pizza Napoletana is a pizza prepared with simple and fresh ingredients: a basic dough, raw tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil. No fancy toppings are allowed!

Here's a good look at myclassic Neapolitan Pizza or Pizza Napoletana:

It's hard to believe that pizza was not really known outside of Italy or Italian immigrant communities before World War II!

Let's talk about the dough. The “official” requirements of an authentic pizza Napoletana begin with the crust. The dough must be made with highly refined Italian type 0 or 00 wheat flour, Neapolitan or fresh brewer’s yeast (not dry yeast), water, and salt. It must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer and formed by hand, without the help of a rolling pin.

Let's talk about the sauce. The dough is topped with raw, pureed San Marzano tomatoes from Italy.

Let's talk about the cheese. Pizza Napolitana can use only two types of mozzarella cheese. One is fior di latte made from cow’s milk and the other is mozzarella di Bufala, made from water buffalo milk, typically raised in the Campania and Lazio marshlands in Italy.

Finally, Neapolitan pizza is topped off with fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil. The ingredients must be all-natural and fresh.

With a thin and soft crust, when it is cooked properly at a high temperature, the crust will bubble up and be charred in spots. I have been learning how to make homemade authentic pizza dough in small batches on YouTube, inspired by Vito Iacopelli. It's been a wonderful process and connection to my father's trade as a "pizza man" or "pizzaiolo". My dad opened his first pizza place in 1971, Mike's Pizza in West Babylon, NY.

Iannelli's in Mattituck, NY in the early '80s. Then after a relocation to Upstate NY, Little Italy in Cobleskill & Schoharie between 1985 - 1992. With his finale, Iannelli's in Oneonta, NY (1993).

Although my father passed in 2005, I am enthusiastic to keep his generous hand connected to the dough through mine, my family & friends. We try to make homemade pizza every Friday night, since the boys were young. Making great memories.

1 Comment

Feb 10, 2021

I’m going to try to make this (while thinking of your Dad) in my Ooni. Will send pics and tag through the process. Thanks for the tips (as always). Xoxo

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