We are so fortunate to live nearby one of Italy’s greatest pizza joints, Pizzaria Mamma Rosa.
Marcello, the owner and fellow who makes the pizzas is a bit like me, what my sister has rightfully described as a food snob. He only uses local fresh ingredients and his dough is made with a natural starter, not commercial yeast (a well guarded recipe I found out when I started making bread with natural starters and asked his advice!)
And…he’s repeatedly won awards from the very prestigious pizza bakers’ organization in Naples that determines what a Neapolitan pizza is (and rarely considers a non Neapolitan as worthy)
Now let me start with the basics. Pizza in Italy is more or less of 3 distinct types:
The Sicilian, which is a high very bready pizza with some sauce on the top
The ordinary, which is what you find all over Italy, north and south, basically a crispy thin crust pizza.
And the Neapolitan.
The kids and I lived for a year in Sorrento, just across the bay from Naples, and during that year we ate and fell in love with so many pizzas.
A Neapolitan pizza has a soft high crown of bread dough around the edges, and is thin (but never crispy) in the middle. It MUST be cooked in a wood stove that needs to be around 500°c (932°F) and it’s made with fresh ingredients, on a dough made with, what else, natural yeast.
You are served one whole pizza the size of a large dinner plate, and believe me you probably will eat it all and feel good about it. Unlike the thinner crust pizzas which often have heavier toppings or most American pizzas which after a couple of slices, a person like me is not only full, but feeling heavy.
According to Marcello, the heavy feeling comes from doughs made with fast acting yeast, which our bodies have a hard time digesting.
Once or twice during the summer months, Mamma Rosa has a pizza day.
Here are some of our guests attending summer 2011
They showcase various food products from our neighborhood, like the cheese and meats that they use, olive oil and of course wine. Marcello demonstrates how he makes the dough, and then they bring out various special pizzas, each type served with different wines made by our friend and neighbor, Emmanuele (more on his wine in another post)
It’s a great evening in which you are served too much food, (but it’s oh so good so you eat it all) including a dessert pizza made with fresh peaches harvested right around the corner.
Paola staging one of many courses
Marcello demonstrating how to make pizza dough