But in any event, why would the work-flow matter? If this finished product is excellent, why be concerned with workflow. There could be more than one way to reach the same result.
OK, true enough, but why then why do the ingredients matter? Why does the oven matter? The bottom line is there is true Neapolitan, and there is everything else. And everything else is really really big. And as you observed, it’s getting bigger every day.
My comment about UPN’s workflow was just to make a point – that, as John D. noted, it does matter to some people who care deeply about Neapolitan pizza. Some people think UPN has “branched off” as you put it. My point is that what defines “branched off” varies galactically from one person to another.
There are 10’s of millions of people in this country who believe the diced tomato, dry part-skim mozz, and shredded basil on a par-baked crust they get from their local pizzeria is a Neapolitan Margherita pizza (and probably a great one for that matter). That’s how big this discussion is. On one hand you have this group of people, and on the other you have the people who don’t think UPN is Neapolitan because of the way they make their dough. It makes the concept of “branched off” meaningless outside of the context of true Neapolitan vs. everything else. That or somebody has to make the arbitrary decision of just how far you can branch off true Neapolitan before you have really branched off.
I don’t disagree with your overall observation about differences. Even limiting the discussion to only those restaurants that you and I might consider Neapolitan, I think we’re seeing places trying to differentiate by making more visually stunning pies via exaggerated leoparding (in some cases to the detriment of the pizza). I think we’re seeing thicker crusts and drier centers at least partially because the operators don’t have the skills to execute 60-90 second pies. I think we see all sorts of new toppings because this is America, and we like lots of stuff on our pizza. I think there is no shortage of operators who simply don’t know and are serving their best guess. I think some operators do things differently because they believe it will be better received by their customers that way (if you grew up with Domino’s, NP is probably “burnt” to you). I think there are as many reasons why we we’re seeing branching off as there are pizzerias making “Neapolitan” pizza.
This isn’t new, and it’s not going to change. The number of people in the US who know true Neapolitan pizza is infinitesimal. The number who care is even smaller. In this country, taste, appearance, hype, value, etc. are going to continue to drive success – not strict adherence to tradition.