The word “pizza” was first documented in AD 997 in Gaeta, and successively in different parts of Central and Southern Italy.
Purists consider there to be only two true pizzas: the Marinara and the Margherita. These two "pure" pizzas are the ones preferred by many Italians today.
The Marinara is the older of the two and has a topping of tomato, oregano, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. It is named “Marinara” because it was traditionally the food prepared by "la marinara", the seaman's wife, for her seafaring husband when he returned from fishing trips in the Bay of Naples.
The Margherita is topped with modest amounts of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. Some believe the “Margherita” was named after the Italian “Queen Margherita” after asking her chef to create something especially for her.
Pizza first made its appearance in the United States with the arrival of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century. It was introduced by peddlers who walked up and down the streets with a metal washtub of pizzas on their heads, selling them for two cents a slice.
American vs Italian Pizza
The pizza in Italy is made to be eaten directly out of the oven. The differences in the ingredients lend themselves for this purpose. The changes made for the American market allow the pizza to sit, last longer, be sold by the slice and stand up to reheating.
In America, the sauce is slow cooked and seasoned. Typically sweetened with sugar and often served on the side for “dunking”. In Italy the sauce is uncooked, fresh and typically only has garlic, oregano, and oil if anything at all. It is not served on the side because it is cooked in the oven with the pizza.
Another change in America is the low moisture shredded mozzarella. This allows the cheese to be dryer and last longer without adding moisture to the pizza. In Italy you would commonly see a soupy center on pizza where the sauce and fresh pulled mozzarella would simmer. This is considered a treat in Italy, however would not stand up to the longevity demanded by the American market. If not eaten directly from the oven, the pizza simply won’t hold up its texture and taste.
The dough in American is made with high protein bread flour. The more bread like thickness and crust will be sturdy and easily transported. Again, lasting longer and made to be sold later as slices, most times rewarmed in the oven. In Italy, the pizza is made with a “00” double zero, very fine milled flour. The crust is also meant to be charred giving the dough a nutty flavor. It’s more like brown butter vs regular butter. American pizza would taste like ash if charred which is why the leopard spotting on pizza is typically reserved for more traditional Italian prepared pizza.
In Italy, the toppings are sparse, fresh, and meant to lightly compliment the pizza dough. The crust is the treat as is also the case with Italian bread. Here in America you would typically see pizza loaded with toppings as the bread dough used in American can also stand up to the weight of such toppings. In Italy, things are lighter and not typically mixed.
In Italy, you would commonly see wood burning brick ovens burning anywhere from 650 to 960 degrees or higher. The pizza can cook in under 60 seconds. In American you would typically see iron stoves that are gas heated with temperatures around 450-550 which is better suited to slow cook the more bread like crust without any charring.
Molise Style Pizza - The Mattei Family Pizza way
In Italy, as in America, different regions have their own spin on Pizza. In our area of Italy we closely follow the traditional way of making pizza in Napoli, with some subtle differences. Our sauce is uncooked and pure, using onions as a natural sweetener with little salt and basil. Our dough is imported from Napoli and is a double zero finely milled dough which has a beautiful nutty flavor complimented by leopard spotted charring. The mozzarella we use is house made and pulled in a stracciatella style meaning “a little shred”. Most Italians would ask for our pizza “well done”. We can do it both ways and even make use of the far side of the oven for a more “American” crust.
We use the highest quality and freshest ingredients we can procure, from local farmers to imports from Italy in hopes to provide you with a unique pizza experience.
Mattei Family Pizza is finalizing additions to our menu and preparing for our Grand Opening! We truly appreciate your feedback and understanding through our initial soft opening phase!
Stay tuned for more news, events and insights.