Eat the best Neapolitan Pizza in Naples
With humble origins as a street food in Naples, pizza has exploded into a global cuisine that tells the story of colonial exchange and culinary innovation.
While flatbread has been consumed since biblical times, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that the peasantry of Italy began using the few ingredients they could get their hands on to produce what we now know as modern pizza dough. This flatbread was topped off with olive oil and herbs until the introduction of the Indian water buffalo that gave the dish another dimension in the form of mozzarella cheese that is so essential to Italian pizza. While European explorers brought tomatoes from Peru in the 16th century, it wasn’t until the 18th and 19th centuries that it had a place in Italian cuisine. They were thought to be poisonous and hence were only used as decoration, until starving peasants in Naples began to eat the supposedly deadly fruit. The new regional dish then shot up in popularity to the local aristocracy, and before long it was sold at every street corner across Naples.
The popular Neapolitan-style pizza owes to its name to a visit from Italy’s Queen Margherita in 1889. In visiting a local pizzeria, a pizzaiolo by the name of Raffaele Esposito whipped up a pie specifically for the Queen made from ingredients that resembled the colors of the Italian flag: red tomatoes, white mozzarella and fresh green basil. Pizza Margherita now remains one of the most famous in the world and a true staple of the region that follows the Italian culinary rule of fresh and local ingredients. A visit to a traditional pizzeria in Naples is one of most treasured culinary experiences in the world.
While there are more than 800 pizzerias in the birthplace of the famous dish, only about 100 of them can boast official certification by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN). This regulatory body ensures that the ingredients, shape, preparation and consumption are based on the authentic culinary tradition of Naples.