Margherita, the queen of Neapolitan pizza

A pizzeria is no place for a queen. The year is 1889: Margherita, consort of King Umberto I, wants a pizza. At Court, in the Royal Palace of Capodimonte, the writers and artists permitted to attend and socialise with the royals continuously extol, in great detail, the virtue of this disc of pastry cooked in a wood-burning oven. And so, one summer evening, the most famous pizza maker of Naples, Don Raffaele Esposito (the pizzeria he opened in 1780 still exists with the name of Brandi and continues to be in its original location of Salita Sant’Anna, a few steps from Via Chiaia and the nearby Royal Palace) is invited by the queen to prepare the dough in the kitchens of the royal palace. The queen is presented with three different pizzas: one with “sugna” – a kind of lard –cheese and basil; one with garlic, oil and cherry tomato, and a third with tomato, mozzarella and basil. Red, white and green, just like the colours of the Italian flag. The queen chooses the mozzarella pizza because it is the most delicious. And Don Raffaele, having returned to his pizzeria, calls it “pizza Margherita” and starts to make it for his customers. It is an immediate success and quickly becomes synonymous with Neapolitan pizza.

But beware; whilst you can eat pizza all over the world, the original Neapolitan pizza is governed by precise and strict rules. The first, even if not stated in the European Union specifications recognizing Neapolitan pizza as a “Traditional Specialty Guaranteed”, is the one to remember before organizing a trip to Southern Italy. Pizza Margherita should be eaten in Naples. Along the seafront or in the alleys of the Old Town (to discover the pizzerias it is advisable to start from Piazza del Gesù and the adjacent Complex of Santa Chiara). Or in the hills, at Posillipo or Vomero (not to be missed, before and after the pizza, is a visit to Saint Martin’s Charterhouse and Saint Elmo’s Castle). Why? Because of the air that blows from the Vesuvius directly onto the dough, the expert kneading of the pizza maker and, wait for it, the ever-present secret ingredient which will only be revealed with the first red-hot bite. And only when the mozzarella, melted by the lava of tomato, will fight with your fork and run proudly from the plate to the palate. Tasting is believing.

However, do remember that to serve it, as well as respecting the instructions on the round shape, the soft dough and the rigorously high edge (the so-called rim) created thanks to the expert kneading of the pizza maker during the stretching of the dough-ball on a marble flour-covered surface, the Neapolitan pizza can only be cooked in a wood-burning oven. Never electric.

The dough contains only water, flour, natural yeast and salt. Pizza Margherita is dressed with PDO tomato, PDO buffalo mozzarella from Campania, extra virgin olive oil and basil.

 

Try it in the restaurants and pizzerias of Naples certified with the Ospitalità Italiana brand!