I personally owe a lot to Charlie Restivo, the chief pizza maker at Naples 45. When I first became interested in Neapolitan style pizzas, I stopped by Naples 45 to try out one of Charlie's pizzas. I went to Naples 45 because I had read that it was one of the two (at the time) NYC pizza establishments that was certified by the VPN. At the time, I was using Bel Aria and Delverde 00 flours for my Neapolitan style pizzas (baked in a home oven) but full of questions. While at Naples 45 for the first time and meeting Charlie, I couldn't have asked for more. I spent well over an hour discussing Neapolitan style pizzas with Charlie on a one on one basis, and he couldn't have been more generous with his time and information. There wasn't a single question I posed that he did not try to answer honestly and fully. He even gave me his email address so that I could send him follow-up questions.
I still remember seeing the bags of Caputo 00 flour stacked in front of the oven area at Naples 45, although I had never heard of that brand and it wasn't until later that I even knew how good that flour was (thanks, in part to Ron Molinaro, aka ilpizzaiolo, with whom I had an early exchange about the flour). Charlie told me where he got his flour, and this led to my getting to know well the importer of the Caputo 00 flour, Fred Mortati at Orlando Foods. Charlie gave me my first Caputo flour, both the blue and red, and asked me to try them out separately and in different blends and to send him an email to tell him of the results I achieved from using the flours. Fred at Orlando was later kind enough to send me several bags (1 kilo) of the Caputo 00 (blue) when I called him to ask him about potential sources of the Caputo 00 flour (at the time, the flour came in only 25 kilo bags). We have spoken many times since then, and he is always anxious to hear about how the Caputo 00 flour is doing among our membership.
Whenever I am in NYC and time permits, I try to stop in to see Charlie. We occasionally exchange emails about our respective pizza efforts. So you will not hear me say a bad word about Naples 45. Never having been to Naples to sample the real thing, I have no frame of reference against which to judge the Naples 45 pizza. I know that Naples 45 is part of a much larger corporate enterprise (I knew this when I first stepped into the door of Naples 45), and undoubtedly that places demands on Naples 45 to perform well from a financial perspective. Having spent an entire career in the corporate sector, I understand that and accept it. But there has never been any doubt in my mind about Charlie's desire to do the best he can. He does not make the rules any more than I did when I was in the corporate sector.
The above is significant for reasons beyond a trip down memory lane. Because of those few bags and samples of the Caputo 00 flour that Charlie and Fred were kind enough to give me, and the experiments I conducted with those flours and reported on on this forum, many more of us now know a great deal more about the Caputo 00 flour and its significance to a high-quality Neapolitan style pizza. There are entire threads on this forum devoted to the Caputo 00 flour, and there are more recipes on this forum calling for Caputo 00 flour than any other place on the planet (with the possible exception of someplace in Italy). Even Fred at Orlando is amazed by its acceptance by the individuals on this forum, and particularly their willingness to buy 25 kilo bags. And now PennMac, one of whose key employees (Rose) is a member of this forum, sells the Caputo 00 in small (repackaged) bags. Even Caputo in Italy is considering selling the flour in smaller quantities, largely as a result of the experiences of our members as related to Fred at Orlando Foods. If I had never set foot in Naples 45, it is quite likely that the Caputo flour would have surfaced somewhere on the forum, particularly after pizzanapoletana joined our midst, but I'd like to think that folks such as Charlie and Fred played a major role in the adoption of the Caputo 00 flour by our members.