The question I’m posing is, does Neapolitan pizza really need to be made with “00” flour to be correctly called “Neapolitan?”
Jeff started a predictable discussion at Slice recently with this comment “By definition Neapolitan pizza must be made with 00 flour.” http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2013/07/reviews-neapolitan-pizza-washington-dc-ettos.html?ref=title
And, Tom recently highlighted Reinhart’s “neo-Neapolitan” dough which Reinhart says “What makes this Neo-Neapolitan is that I use American bread flour instead of Italian -00- flour.” http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,26370.msg267613.html#msg267613
The first thing I’d point out for sake of correctness – as I see it written incorrectly quite often – is that it’s “00” as in zero zero – not “OO,” as in the letter O twice, but that’s not the point of the post. Rather, I’m wondering if it’s necessarily wrong to call pizza made with something other than “00” flour Neapolitan as some staunchly contend?
I’m going to take a contrarian position and say it’s not automatically wrong to do so with a single caveat. If you’re going to call your pie “VPN Neapolitan” or “Pizza Napoletana STG or TSG” or something like that, then yes, it would need to employ “00” flour (and not just any “00” flour necessarily, but one that meets the proper specs – such as those required for the STG protection: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:034:0007:01:IT:HTML
I agree that consumers and critics alike know little, if anything about Neapolitan pizza. I also agree that much of the confusion and misinformation stems from pizzerias selling pies that are not Neapolitan (for any number of reasons) while calling them Neapolitan. To make matters worse, reviews of various “Neapolitan” pies – professional, Yelp!, or otherwise – often criticize generally authentic Neapolitan pies for their traditional Neapolitan features – such as a soft, wet center or sparse toppings – while often holding up pathetic examples, that in no way represent NP, as good or even worse, authentic.
My position is that the finished pie itself is what should be the subject of judgment – not the individual components. I’m not here to define what is and is not Neapolitan – in some ways, I see it like Justice Stewart’s famous quote on obscenity in his concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio – that it’s hard to define, “but I know it when I see it.” The problem is not folks using a flour other than “00” – or not using DOP SM’s for that matter – but rather that most people (including those that should) don’t know it when they see it.
If I can make a better Neapolitan pizza with a non-“00” flour or non-DOP tomatoes, I don’t help anyone by making an inferior product that uses traditional ingredients. Nor does using traditional ingredients do anything to assure a quality Neapolitan pizza. In fact, it may make things worse in some cases as the business may believe that the simple act of doing so will result in Neapolitan pizza. I can think of at least one place off the top of my head where this is true – and they have received some meaningful acclaim on their very sub-par pies that bear little in common with my view of Neapolitan pizza. I believe the key to making Neapolitan pizza is not the ingredients* per se, but rather that the person responsible for the pies must know Neapolitan pizza when s/he sees it and how to get there by whatever means they choose.
*Of course this has limits, and they are largely obvious. Neapolitan pizza can never be made with whole wheat flour, for example, as it would change the entire character of the pie. (I will point out that the restaurant noted in the Slice article cited above uses house milled whole wheat flour, but they do not, as far as I can tell, claim to be Neapolitan).