In all likelihood, you have had pizza at least once in your life. Chances are also pretty good that you enjoy it as well.

There are many types of pizza in the world -- deep-dish, Chicago, New York, even fringe pizzas like stuffed-crust and their ilk. You might claim to have tried all of these. You might even claim that you've had a Neapolitan.

But have you really?

Neapolitan pizza is the original pizza; it is the classical pizza from which all others are derived, originating in Naples, which is also considered to be the first place in Italy that tomatoes were ever added with regularity to dishes. There are several things which define a Neapolitan, though, aside from geographic origin -- these involve the cooking method and ingredients.

More specifically, an authentic ("verace") Neapolitan is brick oven cooked, and its ingredients are very specific: "olive oil, salt, flour, water, yeast and mozzarella di bufala"1. Usually, the mozzarella is not used right away, when very moist, but is instead aged for a day or two, allowing it to dry, somewhat. The crust is, of course, handmade.

So you still think you have had a true Neapolitan?

The Neapolitan tradition is held and protected very closely. In fact, if you can believe it, there is actually a trade association for the Neapolitan: The Verace Pizza Napoletana Association. In order to have one's pizza classified as authentic Neapolitan, one must join the organisation, whose charter lays out very specific regulations regarding the construction of Neapolitans.

Most registered association members are, of course, in Italy. However, there are a few in the US and other countries as well -- although Bertucci's is the only restaurant chain in the US who is a member of the VPN.

More info on both the history of pizza and on the Verace Pizza Napoletana can be found at the US Association's website:


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