When most people think of pizza, they probably conjure up an image of grease soaked takeaway boxes or oven ready types from the supermarket.
But true pizza isn’t a deep pan cheese oozing offering. Traditional pizza is thin, crispy and topped sparingly with fresh ingredients. It’s an art steeped in Italian history.
At DeliVita we’re pizza purists; we want to bring back the simple, fresh taste of Neapolitan cuisine. We want to encourage families to put down the stuffed crust and pick up a pizza peel, just like the Italians do, and have done for centuries.
The actual word ’pizza’ has been around since 997 AD, where it was first documented in Gaeta, Italy. But food similar to pizza has been around much longer.
Persian soldiers would use their shields to cook leavened bread topped with cheese and dates for battle fuel in the 6th century BC, while there’s evidence of bread being baked in Sardinia as far back as 7000 years ago. And in the middle ages, a time when bread made up the bulk of the population’s daily intake, herbs, spices and vegetables were added to liven up the plain diet staple.
But it was in Naples that pizza took on its true form in the 17th and 18th centuries. As an independent kingdom, the city was notorious for its large working class population, the lazzaroni. These Neapolitans needed food that was cheap and quick to consume. Flatbreads were the answer, topped with ingredients we would still recognise as toppings today- tomatoes, oil, cheese and garlic.
When Italy unified in 1861, King Umberto and Queen Margherita visited Naples. Legend has it that the couple, bored with rich French haute cuisine, requested a simple menu. Queen Margherita’s favourite was a flatbread topped with the colours of the Italian flag, thus red tomato sauce, white mozzarella cheese and green basil leaves became the classic pizza choice.
It wasn’t until the 1940’s however that pizza became known outside of Italy’s sun-soaked borders. Thanks to immigration and migrant workers post ww2, the UK and USA’s palettes expanded and were greeted with a smorgasbord of international fare.
Pizza quickly made its way from ‘ethnic’ treat to fast food fun. Ushering in a wave of Americanised pizza parlours, takeaway shops and street vendors selling by the slice.
But the true sense of Neapolitan pizza was somewhat lost, and at DeliVita we want to bring back the simplicity and freshness of Italian cuisine.
The perfect Neapolitan pizza has a thin, base, is crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and is topped delicately to allow each flavour to shine through. It should be light enough to allow someone to enjoy the entirety without feeling weighed down.
For the dough itself, the simpler the better. Strong white flour, brewers yeast, a pinch of salt and purified water are all that’s needed. We’ve taken this approach with our DOUGH TO GO, which contains only organic, natural ingredients for an authentic Italian taste.
To cook- it has to be wood-fired. Neapolitan pizza is best baked hot and fast, 90 seconds will do the trick, which is why our ovens rock! Once cooked, the dough is fragrant and tasty enough to eat on its own but if you do decide to add toppings, they should be minimal; no topping should overpower another.
Italian classics are pizza Bianca- or white pizza- which forgoes tomatoes in place of olive or chilli oil, or the classic Margherita. Both are quick, cheap and easy to make, but don’t scrimp on taste.
So, next time you eat pizza, put down the takeaway menu and instead, eat it like the Italians do. No fuss, no grease, just fresh, simple goodness. If it’s good enough for royalty, its good enough for us!