Italians are very serious when they talk about pizza. You may not know that there are two different pizza philosophies in Italy: the romana and the napoletana, one comes from Rome, the other from Naples.
ARE YOU ROOTING FOR NAPLES OR ROME?
Let’s start with the history. Even though Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans had some “prehistoric” pizzas, the birthplace of modern pizza is the city of Naples, in southern Italy's Campania region. According to legend, it was created by a Neapolitan chef to please Queen Margherita. In 1900, pizza became very popular in Italy along with its variations, like the Roman pizza. Neapolitan or Roman? This is an unanswered question. It is impossible to say which one is better because these two kinds of pizza are quite different, but equally delicious! Napoletana is the noble mother of pizzas, but today Romana is also a fundamental “slice” of Italian tradition.
Neapolitan pizza should be soft and thin with the characteristic rim, the famous “cornicione.” Also it should be easy to fold…and be eaten “a portafoglio” (literally meaning wallet pizza), folded in half and then quarters. The Neapolitan oven is a wood-fired brick oven that can reach very hot temperatures (around 800°F). This is the reason why the authentic Napoletana only needs 90 seconds to cook. A real pizza Napoletana is made with San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala, buffalo mozzarella cheese. Today the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani (“Association of Neapolitan Pizza Makers”) makes sure that every pizzeria Napoletana is truly honoring the tradition. The pizza Napoletana is named by UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Let’s start with the shape. While the Napoletana is always rounded, the Roman pizza can also be rectangular when it is sold by the slice. The crust makes the biggest distinction: in Rome it is crunchier than in Naples because the dough is baked at a lower temperature (around 500°F). One of the most popular Roman styles is the delicious “focaccia,” a white pizza without tomato, usually topped (or filled) with prosciutto, mortadella or anchovies.
ITALY VS. UNITED STATES
Italian Pizza arrived in New York around 1905 thanks to Gennaro Lombardi, a Neapolitan immigrant. Today, American style pizza is pretty different from its Italian “mamma.” In the US variation, the crust is thicker and chewier. The American pizza pie also, contains a higher quantity of tomato (usually cooked), cheese and toppings in general. In the United States, the list of ingredients for options of topping is literally infinite; from the Hawaiian style with ham and pineapple, to the Cajun with shrimp and various seasoning.