Will travel for true pizza
Checking out the status of Vera Pizza Napoletana in America
Ah, pizza ... Since the '50s, it's been an all-American food. It's everywhere, the ubiquitous pie.
In the past decade or so, though, a small but growing number of pizzerias are looking back to the dish's roots in Naples, Italy. These establishments are crafting pizzas according to the stringent standards of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, which certifies "true Neapolitan" pies, the people who make them and the places that serve them.
In a thumbnail, vera pizza is based on a simple but quality dough of pure wheat "00" flour, natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer's yeast, sea salt and pristine water. The dough is topped elegantly with a few strict combinations of tomatoes, fresh Italian mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, oregano, basil and extra-virgin olive oil. These pies are then cooked quickly in scorchingly hot wood-fired ovens on a stone surface.
When the pizza maker, or pizzaiolo, brings a baked pie out of the oven, diners can opt for other ingredients added on top. Upscale foods like fresh arugula, slices of prosciutto, portabello mushrooms, and anchovies are popular toppings. Neapolitan pizzas are no giant meat lover's combo delivery deal or kid's birthday party Hawaiian jobs, to be sure.
These true pizzas, and the fine restaurants that craft them, are worth special trips.
After recently enjoying a very nice vera pizza lunch special in Seattle where I live, I checked-out the AVPN website for the first time, curious to see how many U.S. pizzerias were certified by the governing body.
Surprisingly but happily, I discovered that Seattle is the front-runner in the American vera pizza trend with nearly a dozen certified pizzerias, a number of which are close to downtown and the city's major hotels and attractions.
New York City, regarded as the home of American pizza, has a trio of certified vera pizza joints, with New Jersey adding a handful more in the region. California has a few places, mainly in the San Francisco and Napa Valley areas.
In lesser travelled places, Lexington, Ky., has a trio of pizzerias. Single outposts are scattered in Henderson, Nev.; Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City and a couple of locales in Oregon. Vera pizza definitely seems to have taken a firmer foot out west.
Peruse the AVPN's list to peruse more American "true" pizzerias. You might just want to take a pie pilgrimage (without having to fly to Italy).
Additional Pizza Travel Tool: When visiting a new U.S. city, fire-up the UrbanSpoon website or app. It's toggle setting for pizza is always replete with choices, vera pizza and beyond.
Photo courtesy of Greg Thilmont.
Just checked the list. Not a one in MetroPhilly(except for one in Hamilton Twp.)? Somebody get on it.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For those who love American-style... whether it be your hometown guy who bakes a scrumptious pie, or Pizza Hut or whatever... let them be. Just because it's traditional doesn't make it the best. Traditional Thai cuisine includes dog meat. Doesn't make it appealing just because its traditional. Maybe its appealing to that fat bald guy who eats animal penises from around the world, but not to everyone. Elitists who negate those that like Dominos or Pizza Hut and insult them with conceded phrases like "Frozen pizza is better than Pizza Hut" may think a cats **** is the bees knees.
To quote Jules Vern... "Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy motherf*cker".
The problem with this "true pizza" movement is that it's elitist, trendy (and thereby over represented) and often poorly done. Too many restaurants are trying to deliver this kind of pizza, (even without any attempt at ceritification), resulting in a lack of real options, and an abundance of pies that involve overly thin, tasteless crusts, usually burned. Then, each chef has to put his own special stamp on it by offering flashy toppings combinations (often without properly describing the contents on the menu, but that's true of all their dishes, not just the pizzas).
There is no One True Pizza. There are a lot of different kinds, each with their own character. Where is the love for Sicilian? New York and Chicago have also developed their own pizza traditions. There's a lot of room at the table...
PIZZA HUT ROCKS
signed Honey boo boo and the rest of my fat slob family
Venturi, an eatery in Goshen IN, has been ranked 15th in the nation by Esquire magazine’s “Most life-changing pizzeria in America” online reader poll. It is a certified Vera pizza restaurant. Tasty!
Yea the crap that is called pizza and Italian food today, is well crap and I live in NY state. No way a place like Seattle has the best Italian food, reason no real Italians there. Pretty simple me Italian been around it for 63 years, I know how to cook, and serve it. Now day non Italians watch a TV show, or work in a place and they think they are making the food. How could that be, it would be like me try to make Mexican, I don't have any reference point in my life to tell if it is good or not. To me Taco Bell is Mexican, if you weren't brought up eat and watching your mother and grandmother cook it, how would you ever know what is good or not?