Author Topic: Have we created "imperial" Neapolitan pizza here in the U.S.?  (Read 650 times)

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Offline dbarneschi

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Have we created "imperial" Neapolitan pizza here in the U.S.?
« on: August 30, 2014, 08:43:06 AM »
Most of us who post regularly in the PM "Neapolitan Style" forum seem to have an idea of what makes the "perfect" Neapolitan style pizza. This includes things like an extremely tender crust made with 00 flour, leopard spotting all along the cornice, etc. However, if you look at Kenji's post from last year titled "The Serious Eats Guide To Pizza In Naples," you'll see that most of the pizzas look quite different from our ideal: http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2013/01/serious-eats-guide-to-eating-pizza-in-naples-napoli-italy-neapolitan-pizza.html Is what most of us here are seeking to make/eat really a variation of a DiMichelle pie? They seem to be one of the few to have intense leopard spotting on their pies.

Also, for those of you who have eaten pizza in Naples and the U.S., do you think that the pies that we are now seeing in the states deserve their own categorization? Looking at the pizzas in Naples (with the exception of DaMichelle perhaps) versus those from Motorino, Paulie Gee's, UPN, Craig's garage, etc. is like looking at two totally different beasts. With the intense leopard spotting all over the cornices, super puffy crusts, thorough and even distribution of cheese, etc., have we "imperialized" the Neapolitan pie?

As a craft beer enthusiast, I can attest to the fact that American breweries have taken the India pale ale into an entirely different stratosphere from when it was originally created by the British to satisfy their soldiers serving in India in the 19th century. Have Neapolitan pizzerias in the states created an (almost) entirely new product as well?
« Last Edit: August 30, 2014, 08:46:46 AM by dbarneschi »


Offline norma427

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Re: Have we created "imperial" Neapolitan pizza here in the U.S.?
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2014, 08:54:01 AM »
I kind of wondered the same thing when I started this thread.  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=26843.msg271547#msg271547 

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Offline dbarneschi

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Re: Have we created "imperial" Neapolitan pizza here in the U.S.?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2014, 09:54:34 AM »
I kind of wondered the same thing when I started this thread.  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=26843.msg271547#msg271547 

Norma
Point taken Norma. Love the photos on your post. It's amazing to see just how different NP can be!

Online TXCraig1

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Re: Have we created "imperial" Neapolitan pizza here in the U.S.?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2014, 10:41:11 AM »
have we "imperialized" the Neapolitan pie?

Have Neapolitan pizzerias in the states created an (almost) entirely new product as well?

I don't think either of these is a fair assessment. In the pictures you posted, to say nothing for Norma's, I see a great deal of variation. It's not like pizza looks one consistent way in Naples and different but consistent way here. Nor is the look of the pizza here unprecedented in Naples. For whatever reason, Americans have gravitated more towards the da Michele look. Maybe because it is more visually stunning and different from other styles common in the US? Maybe people saw Julia Roberts eating the da Michele pie in Eat, Pray, Love and so that's what they expect from NP? In any case, I think the sub-style that is predominant in the US is largely driven by a desire to deliver on the customer's expectations more than an attempt on the part of the pizzaiolo to create a new product.

Notwithstanding, like in Naples, pizzaiolo have a signature look to their pies here as well. Mathieu's pies don't look like Paulie's pies don't look like Anthony's pies, don't look like my pies, etc. (I'm honored to be included in that group, BTW). The center of the bell curve may be tighter, but the overall range is about the same. All NP here is not leopard spotted. Luzzo's (albeit coal) looks somewhat like the Trianon pie in the slice article. Plenty of places put out pies that look like the Port'Alba pie in the same article though I suspect the Port'Alba pie is a lot better than the blond pies served here.

It's an interesting question, but IMO, the difference is largely driven by a tighter expectation for NP here than in Naples.
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Offline Iowamcnabb

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Re: Have we created "imperial" Neapolitan pizza here in the U.S.?
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2014, 10:55:49 PM »

It's an interesting question, but IMO, the difference is largely driven by a tighter expectation for NP here than in Naples.

This seems right to me.

  I'm part owner of a Jamaican Cafe and we have customers come in all the time that honeymooned in Jamaica and have a certain expectation of what Jerk chicken should taste like.  In the US a lot of folks have a strict standard for how it should be prepared and taste.  In Jamaica the ingredients and methods vary greatly with less emphasis on a standard. 

Offline dbarneschi

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Re: Have we created "imperial" Neapolitan pizza here in the U.S.?
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2014, 12:07:06 AM »
This seems right to me.

  I'm part owner of a Jamaican Cafe and we have customers come in all the time that honeymooned in Jamaica and have a certain expectation of what Jerk chicken should taste like.  In the US a lot of folks have a strict standard for how it should be prepared and taste.  In Jamaica the ingredients and methods vary greatly with less emphasis on a standard.
I agree with your statement as well Craig. Hopefully one day I can do more "research" on this in Naples.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Have we created "imperial" Neapolitan pizza here in the U.S.?
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2014, 12:37:13 AM »
I don't think either of these is a fair assessment. In the pictures you posted, to say nothing for Norma's, I see a great deal of variation. It's not like pizza looks one consistent way in Naples and different but consistent way here. Nor is the look of the pizza here unprecedented in Naples. For whatever reason, Americans have gravitated more towards the da Michele look. Maybe because it is more visually stunning and different from other styles common in the US? Maybe people saw Julia Roberts eating the da Michele pie in Eat, Pray, Love and so that's what they expect from NP? In any case, I think the sub-style that is predominant in the US is largely driven by a desire to deliver on the customer's expectations more than an attempt on the part of the pizzaiolo to create a new product.

Notwithstanding, like in Naples, pizzaiolo have a signature look to their pies here as well. Mathieu's pies don't look like Paulie's pies don't look like Anthony's pies, don't look like my pies, etc. (I'm honored to be included in that group, BTW). The center of the bell curve may be tighter, but the overall range is about the same. All NP here is not leopard spotted. Luzzo's (albeit coal) looks somewhat like the Trianon pie in the slice article. Plenty of places put out pies that look like the Port'Alba pie in the same article though I suspect the Port'Alba pie is a lot better than the blond pies served here.

It's an interesting question, but IMO, the difference is largely driven by a tighter expectation for NP here than in Naples.
I`ve been eating pies there regularly for past 25 yrs. and this is what I think...

most all are mom an pop joints and those people are cheap and like to keep it simple... and I`m happy with those pies...at least they are fresh and taste good at a 9pm get together. 
Believe me...they do not put any where near the time and effort in their quick pies  that the patient pro`s here on the forum put into their works.

The pics one finds on the internet are, of course, one`s from the more popular places and with due cause they , of course make the prettier pies.
You go back and look at all the pies on Norma`s thread...and tell me that any one pie does not have a quality that she purported to be absent in the us vs Italy pizzas.....take another look man.....you`ll see....those are the internet pies and not representative, imo, of the vast differences one can find in little villages everywhere there....now those pizzas look waay different from ya`lls....but they are good eats too never the less.  :chef:
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Offline hodgey1

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Re: Have we created "imperial" Neapolitan pizza here in the U.S.?
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2014, 03:38:11 PM »
I think in general we all "myself included" focus to much on defining things to an extreme. Part of that for me comes from a overwhelming desire to get things right, weather it be my cooking or my work.  But what getting it right is for me I'm sure is different than my neighbor.

When I started 10+ years ago to make pizza, I just wanted to make something people liked, once I achieved this then " as always" I wanted more " I wish I could stop that tendency"  Now years later here I am trying to build the perfect Neapolitan pizza. But what is that ?????? That question seems to creat quit a stir here.

Do you suppose Italians are buying or building special grills and cooking apparatuses in the attempt to make a perfect hamburger ? What if ? What would that be? Mc'D's ? Or are they researching their brains out, reading books, forums and formulations trying to achieve hamburg  greatness? Where did the hamburg originate? Is it Connecticut, Chicago or is it Germany? Oh the arguments that could be raised!

I think the US gov should put pen to the following.

The classic American hamburger secret "according to me"

50/50 chuck to sirloin, 85/15 fat ratio cooked to internal temp of 128*F over an open flame
Not more than 3/4" thick no less than 1/2" once cooked with char/grill marks going both directions.
Patty must extend no less than 1/8" beyond bun and no more than 7/16"
On a Fresh baked sesame seed roll, never dry never mass produced.
One slice of deli American cheese melted on patty but not charred.
Raw Vidalia onion sliced 1/8" thick kept intact.
15grams Hellmann's only, mayo.
6 grams each Heinz only ketchup and mustard. 
3-4 Valsic kosher dill slices 
One slice 1/4" thick garden fresh beef steak tomato at room temp never refrigerated

Funny thing is, that burger is only available in my back yard. I've eaten hamburgers in probably 20 different states from east to west and not one is the same as the other but they were all American style hamburgers.


Online tinroofrusted

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Re: Have we created "imperial" Neapolitan pizza here in the U.S.?
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2014, 05:07:19 PM »
Have Neapolitan pizzerias in the states created an (almost) entirely new product as well? 

I have never been to Naples so I can't really speak to the pizzas there. But I've read quite a few reviews from mostly American tourists that complain that they were served pizza napolitana which was  undercooked and generally awful. In many cases these reviews are probably written by people who have no idea what a good Neapolitan pizza should taste like. But I've seen quite a few photos of terrible Naples pizzas that seem to bear out the underlying review.  In general, Americans like their pizza crispier than the Neapolitans like it. So it might stand to reason that a new style of Ameri-Neapolitan will evolve that is more suited to American tastes.  Maybe we are inventing it right now.  For instance, it's possible (note I didn't say probable) that Craig's experiments in NY and Detroit style pizza will in some way affect the way he makes his Neapolitan pies.   Or perhaps not. 

Online TXCraig1

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Re: Have we created "imperial" Neapolitan pizza here in the U.S.?
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2014, 05:37:05 PM »
For instance, it's possible (note I didn't say probable) that Craig's experiments in NY and Detroit style pizza will in some way affect the way he makes his Neapolitan pies.   Or perhaps not.

Most of them have been naturally leavened...
Pizza is not bread.