There's something ultra-simple about dough topped with nothing more than fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil leaves and olive oil. Pizza Napoletana may not be the fanciest pizza, but it's at the heart of Italy's love affair with its national dish.
Sometimes, you can't improve on a classic, especially when it comes to Italian food . Restaurants like Franco Manca, Brick Pizza and That's Amore are just a few examples of pizzerias that are celebrating simplicity.
A proper Neapolitan
The Neapolitan was created in Naples, Italy. Flatbreads had been around for ages, but tomatoes were what made them into pizza. Explorers brought tomatoes back from South America in the 16th century, and eventually people threw them on top of their flatbreads for a bit of variety. Voila: pizza was born.
The three official versions are marinara, margherita and margherita extra. In Italy, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) certifies pizzas that use the correct traditions and ingredients. It's a pretty tough ask – dough has to be hand-kneaded and shaped, made with specific refined flour, and topped with raw pureed San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella. There's also a maximum 90-second baking time in a wood-fired stone oven – nothing baked to a crisp here.
Picking your pizza
Franco Manca's sourdough pizza, just named '1', is a prime example of the marinara, simply topped with tomato, oregano, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. But don't be surprised if it's not one of their daily specials, as their menu changes frequently. The pizza was traditionally prepared by sailors' wives (la marinara) for their hard-working husbands, who fished in the bay of Naples.
The famous margherita, the most familiar version of pizza napoletana, has chunks of fresh cow's milk mozzarella scattered over its base right before being slid into the oven. Fresh basil leaves and olive oil are added once it comes off the heat – supposedly resembling the Italian flag's red, white and green.
Leeds-based That's Amore has a stellar example of the traditional Margherita, as well as an exclusive version with a visually stunning twist: Le Pizza Nera (Black Pizza). The premium toppings and technique are the same, but the black dough base is transformed by adding detoxifying vegetable charcoal.
If you'd like to make your pizza napoletana even more luxurious, get your hands on a buffalo mozzarella-topped margherita extra, like Brick Pizza's version. This pizza comes with the mozzarella di bufula that bubbles in the oven and stretches into strings as you pull slices away – just the way that Neapolitans intended.
Grab your own piece of pizza heaven when you order an authentic Neapolitan through Deliveroo.