Monday, July 13, 2009

Can You Find Proper Neapolitan Pizza in Philly?

The specifics of Neapolitan pizzas are "subject to much Talmudic debate," writes Michael Idov in New York Magazine this week. But there are a few rules that all aspiring Neapolitan pizzas must follow: A twelve-inch round pie, often unsliced; a thin, soft, and chewy crust; bubbles on the rim; simple but quality sauces; a modest amount of mozzarella di bufala; and a few stingy drops of olive oil. Though New York is currently in the midst of a Neapolitan revolution, it's not the only city turning away from the familiar gloppy sauce and slithering cheese. Philly has a wealth of tomato pies and square pies, but Neapolitans are few and far between - at least until Stephen Starr ends his pizza quest and opens his Headhouse Square pizzeria.

Osteria's blistered, wafer-thin margherita pizza is as orthodox as it gets, but even purists might be swayed by the heady Lombarda topped with baked egg, bitto cheese, mozzarella, and cotechino sausage.

For a more humble (and inexpensive) version, South Philly's SliCE offers homemade, "hand crushed" tomato sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes and a crisp, almost cracker-like crust.

While the raw ingredients here may not be quite as highbrow as pizza fanatics dictate, there's a reason Tacconnelli's Pizzeria, the homely Port Richmond pizzeria has been in business for over 80 years - the wonderful crust fired in the original brick oven. Don't forget to reserve your dough.

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