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Will travel for true pizza

Checking out the status of Vera Pizza Napoletana in America

By Greg Thilmont Jan 16, 2013 1:10PM

 

Vera pizza.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.



 

49Comments
Jan 17, 2013 11:36AM
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Just checked the list. Not a one in MetroPhilly(except for one in Hamilton Twp.)? Somebody get on it.

 

 

Jan 17, 2013 11:36AM
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Good pizza should be the one you like! Not the one you're told to like.
Jan 17, 2013 11:20AM
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Alaskan Pizza! Ice Cream,Anchovies & Nuts!
Jan 17, 2013 11:02AM
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While it seems cool to have "authentic" pizza, the truth is that the Americanized version often tastes better.  More toppings, unique sauces, etc...Not that there's anything wrong with vera pizza, just that many of us would find it lacking.  Similar to Chinese food in China.  The Chinese food in San Francisco is regarded as exceeding much of what you get in China.  There is a reason that the San Francisco version has been copied throughout the United States (with mixed results) while the real food served in China is not widely available here...
Jan 17, 2013 11:02AM
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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".

Jan 17, 2013 10:51AM
Jan 17, 2013 10:36AM
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Santarpio's in East Boston the best - and you do not even have to pay extra for rude waiters
Jan 17, 2013 10:25AM
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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...

Jan 17, 2013 10:07AM
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PIZZA HUT ROCKS

 

 

signed Honey boo boo and the rest of my fat slob family

Jan 17, 2013 9:57AM
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You all definately need to come to New Haven, Ct.! Home of Pepe's & Sally's Apizza( the way it's said in Naples!) We have the best pizza in the USA!
Jan 17, 2013 9:52AM
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The same thing goes for comments like the ones that carolart made, too, well, at least about what is considered a "real" pizza, anyway.  Also, one should not be Italian to be considered as a requirement to make a good pizza anyway.  People should simply make a pizza because pizza is a good food and that it tastes yummy, period, end of the story, and end of the message.
Jan 17, 2013 9:50AM
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You know nobody beats Dominoes. True culinary delight. I pie worth fighting for, etc. etc.
Jan 17, 2013 9:49AM
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Come to Old Forge, PA for the real true pizza. It is the official "Pizza Capital of the World".
Jan 17, 2013 9:46AM
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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!

Jan 17, 2013 9:46AM
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Who the fahk has the right to determine what is and what is not a "real" fahking pizza, anyway?  Why should I listen to some elitist, racist, nutjob about their "racial pride" anyway?  Should we not just be mature enough humans and, gasp, learn to enjoy the yumminess that is pizza and fahk the bullshyt comments like people like ARMY 1971 thinks that we should hear instead of simply opening our eyes, minds, and taste buds to something that is yummy and allow ourselves to have our own uniqueness to add to the mix?  This IS what this country is all about you know, the concept of uniqueness.  If I wanted to be a fahking clone, mindless sheep, whore, or damn robot, then would I not be one, let alone yourselves being so as well in your own lives?
Jan 17, 2013 9:45AM
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For those of you who think that Pizza Hut, Lil Caesar and Domino make "real" pizza - please be a little more adventurous, do yourself a favor, and try a freshly-made pizza from a neighborhood pizzeria - hand-tossed, with fresh tomatoes - makes all the difference.  The chain pizza stores offer factory-made crusts, tomatoes in 5 gallon cans, and cheese frozen and shipped in.  This is not real pizza.  Pizza was meant to be a simple snack or lunch, made from simple, local ingredients.   One does not have to be of Italian descent to make or enjoy a good, authentic pizza. 
Jan 17, 2013 9:20AM
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Having lived in Italy four years, my experience with pizza there was that it was bland, and I much prefer the adventurousness and experimentation of America's pizza makers, and I include such mainstreamers as Jet's Pizza od Detroit and Pizza Hut.
Jan 17, 2013 9:05AM
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Lexington,KY who knew? Will try next trip in 3 weeks!
Jan 17, 2013 9:03AM
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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?

Jan 17, 2013 8:52AM
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My mother was born in Naples. Been eating good pizza,bread since a child.
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