The dish that has been called “almost certainly the most widely eaten food on the planet” originated in Naples, though Neapolitans would be aghast at the pizza toppings such as chicken tikka, ham and pineapple, and chicken pesto that have taken root in this country. Back in the home of the pizza, people keep it simple. Most go for the Marinara, topped with tomatoes, garlic, oregano and olive oil (with the option of a few anchovy fillets) or the Margherita, topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and olive oil.
- Marinara – tomatoes, garlic, oregano, olive oil
- Margherita – tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil
I discovered how these tasty toppings retain their artisanal excellence on a recent visit to Naples organised by the restaurant chain Rossopomodoro (“red tomato”), which is based in the city. Established in the late Nineties, it has opened more than 100 branches in 12 years. Most are in Italy, with nine branches in Naples alone, but the company is rapidly expanding around the world. Already operating three restaurants in London and one in Birmingham, it plans to open another five per year in the UK.
Starting as a dough ball, the pizza base is pressed into the requisite disc with a raised edge (called the cornicione) by the fingers of the pizza-maker. All that flamboyant whirling in the air that you might have seen is frowned on. The Rossopomodoro pizza is then cooked in a wood-burning stove for 60 to 90 seconds at 485C.
But what goes on top? The zingy sauce made from the San Marzano tomato, grown around Vesuvius, explains why not much else is needed on local pizzas. Ripened by the sun, which shines here for 250 days a year, its flavour benefits from the mineral-rich volcanic soil and deepens during the preserving process.
keep reading to learn about the exclusive buffalo herds used for mozarella and more!