Post #582 Neapolitan Pizza

July 28, 2018 at 6:04 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #582 Neapolitan Pizza

Neapolitan just means “from Naples” and that refers to Naples, Italy.  I was lucky enough that the first time I got to work in Italy, it was in Naples, and I got to spend six weeks there.  Now bear in mind that our days during the week were full.  We reported to work around 8am and were sometimes there until 11pm.  Mostly, we were finished up around 5 or 6, and most of our weekends were free, but there were times when my part of the job required me to be there on the weekends.  And if we were switching out computers, it was all hands on deck.  We ate breakfast at the hotel ordinarily, and had lunch at work prepared by two motherly ladies who were most interested in providing filling, nutritious pasta dishes and fish on Friday (no cheese allowed.)   Dinners we were on our own.  We mostly went out with the working group, but other times we’d scatter on our own.  And sometimes the staff we were teaching would invite us out.

We did try to cut costs and keep some foods in our rooms, but there were no mini-fridges so we were limited in what we could reasonably keep.  I asked one coworker who said she spoke Italian and said she’d found a good butcher to pick me up a half pound of slice ham for sandwiches.  I was thinking regular American style cured ham that wouldn’t have time to spoil in the amount of time it would take me to eat it (I really like ham.)  Her claims to prowess far outstripped her actual prowess and I ended up with two pounds of uncooked, uncured, unsliced ham, and for some reason she also got me a two pound block of cheese.  It was a white cheese and smelled great, but since I had no way to slice it, or cook the ham, it all went to the hotel staff.  But there were other treats to look forward to.  We found a restaurant around the corner that had a buffet and I got try calamari cooked in many different ways, including on pizza!

Historically, Naples is the accepted birthplace of modern pizza.  Flatbreads can be found in every culture, and adding toppings to them is just a natural course of events.  But sometime in the late 1700s, bakers in Naples added tomatoes to a flatbread called focaccia, and shortly after that topped it with cheese, and pizza was born.  The traditional Neapolitan pizza is baked in a wood-fired oven at temps of 500 degrees or higher.  The edges can be burned to a crisp, but because it spends so little time in the oven, the cheese is melted and brown to the right point, the tomatoes are hot and sizzling, and the toppings are cooked to perfection.

So what is this leading up to?  Particularly since I’ve written more about pizza than any other subject?  Partner/Spouse and I got have lunch at the newest pizzeria in our area.  It’s called Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, and are found all over the southern New England area.  This one opened a few months ago and has been insanely busy from the moment their doors were unlocked.  We’ve gone by several times, anxious to try their Neapolitan pizza, me in the hopes that it truly is as good as the pizza I enjoyed in Naples.

It is.

We got there at 12:30 half anticipating that it would be too crowded and with alternate plans already in mind in case it was.  We were happily surprised to see that although there were plenty of cars in the parking lot, there were still many places to park indicating there would be places to sit.  We walked in and were immediately shown to a table.  The inside was minimalist and we found out why it was always standing room only.  There were very few tables for the crowds we’d seen there.  It’s the standard mix of booths and tables, but the thing that drew your eyes is the kitchen.  It’s completely open to the dining area and watching the pizza chefs work was fun.  It’s set up with true wood fired brick ovens and the fire is pretty far back because the pizza peels are attached to ten foot long poles.  These guys were pushing those peels the full length of the poles to reach the pies.

The menu is minimalist, too.  Pizza.  Salad.  Soda.  Beer and Wine.  That’s about it. But within those parameters there is a lot of selection.  There are 3 sizes and the largest is served on a full baking sheet and slops over the sides.  The smallest was so large we couldn’t finish them and brought them home.  We didn’t try the salads, but the ones we saw going by us looked delicious.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that we were hungry.

I ordered my standard mushroom and pepperoni with extra cheese.  I should have left the extra cheese off.  And rather than sauce, they use crushed tomatoes in their juice with some herbs and spices.  Very very tasty.  Partner/Spouse got their Amanti Della Carne, a meat lovers pizza.  Unfortunately, our pizzas did not arrive at the same time; mine came first.  The gap in timing was noticeable, but not enough to induce a complaint.  Neither of finished more than half.  They were so good!

It did taste just like the pizza I remembered from Naples.  And it did taste very good, even the crusty char on the edges.

So, if you ever get a chance to try this pizzeria, I recommend it highly.   Just try to get there when it’s not crowded.  If you can.

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