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A beginner's guide to Neapolitan pizza Add to ...

What does VPN mean?

VPN stands for Verace Pizza Napoletana (genuine Neapolitan pizza). It’s a designation given to certified pizzerias by the Naples-based Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, or its delegates in North America and Japan. To qualify, a pizzeria must make its pies with certain types of ingredients (0 and/or 00 flour, natural or brewer’s yeast, San Marzano tomatoes); use only approved equipment (wood-fired stone oven); and adhere to traditional pizza-making methods (the dough must be kneaded by hand or with an approved mixer and stretched by hand, without the use of a rolling pin, be no more than 0.3 centimetre thick and cooked at a temperature of about 900 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 seconds).

I think my pizza’s burnt.

Wood-fired ovens are hot. A pizzaiolo must learn to lift the pizza on a paddle to the ceiling (which is hotter than the floor) for split seconds – long enough to melt the cheese and char the rim, but no so long that it burns. The dark “leopard” spots should never taste acrid or bitter.

Why is this pizza so soggy?

Neapolitan pizza is concave, with puffy edges and a thin middle. Under the intense heat of the oven, the cheese liquefies and pools with the sauce, creating a soft centre. This is the way Neapolitans like it. Accept it.

Hey, they forgot to slice it.

The soft centre makes it hard to cut. Use a knife and fork to make a tear in the centre, rip to the edges, fold your piece, libretto style, to catch all the liquid and eat with your hands.

Why can’t I get it to go?

The soft crust doesn’t hold up well for delivery. It will steam in a box, deflate around the edges and become chewy. Eat in for best results.

Wow, there’s not much cheese on this.

Again, the soft crust can’t bear too much weight. You should actually be able to see the sauce through the melted blobs of mozzarella. There are only three classic types of genuine Neapolitan pizza: marinara, Napoletana and margherita. But even Neapolitan-inspired pizzas are usually minimally topped.

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