Napoletana Pizza Recipe

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Napoletana Pizza Recipe



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When it comes to pizza, few styles can compare to the iconic and mouthwatering Neapolitan pizza, or Pizza Napoletana. This classic Italian creation is beloved worldwide for its simplicity, yet it delivers a burst of flavors that can transport your taste buds straight to Naples, Italy. In this article, we’ll explore the rich history and tradition of Napoletana pizza and provide you with a detailed step-by-step recipe to create your own authentic masterpiece at home.

The History of Napoletana Pizza

To fully appreciate the art of Napoletana pizza making, it’s essential to understand its historical roots. The origins of pizza can be traced back to ancient civilizations, with flatbreads topped with various ingredients being a staple in many cultures. However, the Napoletana pizza we know today has its roots firmly planted in Naples, Italy.

Naples, the Birthplace of Pizza

Naples, a bustling city in southern Italy, is often considered the birthplace of pizza. The story goes that pizza as we know it was born in the narrow, winding streets of Naples in the late 18th century. During this time, Naples was a crowded and bustling metropolis filled with people from various walks of life, including the working class. Pizza quickly gained popularity as an affordable and convenient food for the masses.

The Margherita Legend

One of the most famous legends in pizza history revolves around Queen Margherita of Savoy, who ruled Italy in the late 19th century. As the story goes, the queen visited Naples in 1889, and a local pizzaiolo (pizza maker) named Raffaele Esposito created a special pizza in her honor. The pizza featured the colors of the Italian flag: red tomatoes, white mozzarella cheese, and green basil. This patriotic pie became known as the Margherita pizza and is considered the quintessential Neapolitan pizza.

Traditional Ingredients

The key to crafting an authentic Napoletana pizza lies in the use of high-quality, simple ingredients. Traditionally, it includes the following components:

Tipo 00 Flour: This finely milled Italian flour is essential for creating the pizza’s tender, chewy crust.

San Marzano Tomatoes: These sweet and flavorful plum tomatoes, grown in the volcanic soil near Mount Vesuvius, are the preferred choice for pizza sauce.

Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella: Soft, creamy, and made from the milk of water buffalo, this cheese provides the perfect meltability and flavor.

Fresh Basil Leaves: Fragrant basil leaves add a burst of freshness and color to the pizza.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: A drizzle of high-quality olive oil enhances the overall taste and aroma.

Now that we’ve delved into the history and ingredients of Napoletana pizza, let’s roll up our sleeves and embark on the culinary journey of making this delectable masterpiece in your very own kitchen.

Preparing Pizza Margherita, the archetype of Neapolitan pizza. Cook adds grated parmesan cheese. Selective focus

The Napoletana Pizza Recipe

To create an authentic Napoletana pizza, you’ll need a few essential tools and ingredients. While the process may seem straightforward, perfecting it can be an art in itself. Here’s a step-by-step guide to crafting the perfect Napoletana pizza.


For the Pizza Dough:

500g (about 4 cups) Tipo 00 flour
325ml (1 1/3 cups) lukewarm water
10g (2 tsp) salt
3g (1 tsp) active dry yeast
A pinch of sugar
For the Pizza Sauce:

400g (14 oz) San Marzano tomatoes (canned or fresh, if available)
Salt to taste
A pinch of sugar
A few fresh basil leaves
For Topping:

200g (7 oz) fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, torn into small pieces
Fresh basil leaves
Extra virgin olive oil

Pizza stone or pizza steel
Pizza peel
Rolling pin
Stand mixer (optional)

Prepare the Pizza Dough:

In a small bowl, combine the lukewarm water, active dry yeast, and a pinch of sugar. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes, or until it becomes frothy.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the Tipo 00 flour and salt.

If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and start mixing the dry ingredients on low speed. Slowly pour in the yeast mixture while continuing to mix. Once the dough starts to come together, increase the mixer’s speed to medium and knead for about 5-7 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough.

If kneading by hand, make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the yeast mixture, and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands until a rough dough forms. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let it rise at room temperature for 1.5 to 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.

Prepare the Pizza Sauce:

If using canned San Marzano tomatoes, crush them with your hands or a fork in a bowl. If using fresh tomatoes, blanch them in boiling water for a minute, then peel, seed, and crush them.

Add a pinch of sugar and salt to taste to the crushed tomatoes. Tear a few fresh basil leaves and add them to the sauce. Mix well and set aside.

Preheat Your Oven:

Place the pizza stone or pizza steel on the lowest rack of your oven. Preheat the oven as high as it will go (usually around 500°F or 260°C) for at least 30-45 minutes. The intense heat is crucial for achieving that classic Neapolitan pizza crust.

Shape the Pizza:

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to release any air bubbles. Divide it into two equal portions for two pizzas.

On a lightly floured surface, shape each portion of dough into a ball. Working with one dough ball at a time, flatten it slightly with your fingertips, leaving a thicker border around the edge to form the crust.

Using your hands or a lightly floured rolling pin, gently stretch and shape the dough into a round pizza crust, about 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. It should be thin in the center and slightly thicker at the edges, resembling the classic Neapolitan shape.

Assemble the Pizza:

Once your pizza dough is shaped, carefully transfer it to a pizza peel that’s been dusted with flour or semolina. This will make it easier to slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone.

Spoon a generous amount of the prepared tomato sauce onto the pizza dough, leaving a small border around the edge.

Distribute torn pieces of fresh buffalo mozzarella evenly over the sauce.

Tear a few fresh basil leaves and scatter them on top of the cheese.

Drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil over the pizza.

Bake the Pizza:

Carefully slide the assembled pizza onto the preheated pizza stone or steel in the oven. If you’re using a stone, it’s a good idea to sprinkle some semolina or cornmeal on the stone before placing the pizza to prevent sticking.

Bake the pizza for 7-10 minutes, or until the crust is puffed up and beautifully charred in spots, and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Finish and Serve:

Once your pizza is out of the oven, tear a few more fresh basil leaves and scatter them over the top.

Drizzle a bit more extra virgin olive oil for that final touch of flavor.

Slice the pizza into wedges and serve it immediately while it’s piping hot.

Tips for the Perfect Napoletana Pizza:

Use high-quality ingredients for the best flavor. Seek out genuine San Marzano tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and extra virgin olive oil.

Ensure your dough rises sufficiently for the best texture. It should double in size during the rise.

When shaping the dough, be gentle and patient to avoid tearing or overstretching.

Preheat your oven with the pizza stone or steel to the highest temperature possible for an authentic Neapolitan crust.

Slide the pizza onto the hot stone or steel quickly to maintain the oven’s high temperature.

Experiment with toppings if you like, but keep it simple to stay true to the Napoletana tradition.

Creating an authentic Napoletana pizza at home is a labor of love, but the results are undoubtedly worth the effort. This classic Italian dish, with its perfectly charred, thin crust, fresh and vibrant toppings, and rich history, is a culinary delight that can transport you to the streets of Naples with every bite.

Whether you’re a seasoned pizzaiolo or embarking on your first homemade pizza adventure, the Napoletana pizza recipe provided in this article offers a step-by-step guide to help you achieve the perfect balance of flavors and textures that define this iconic dish. With the right ingredients, equipment, and a little practice, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of crafting the perfect Napoletana pizza in your own kitchen. Buon appetito!

Now that you’ve followed our detailed recipe, it’s essential to continue honing your skills to perfect your Napoletana pizza-making craft. Here are some advanced techniques and tips to elevate your pizza game:

Dough Handling:

Achieving the perfect dough consistency is an art. Experiment with hydration levels by adjusting the water-to-flour ratio. Slightly wetter dough can lead to a more tender crust, while a drier dough can yield a crispier result.

Learn to stretch and shape the dough by hand, like a true pizzaiolo. Practice will help you achieve a thin, even crust with a pronounced edge (cornicione).

Wood-Fired Oven:

If you’re truly dedicated to the Neapolitan pizza tradition, consider investing in a wood-fired pizza oven. These ovens can reach the extreme temperatures necessary for authentic Napoletana pizza in just a few minutes, resulting in an incredible texture and flavor.

Pizza Peel Skills:

Master the art of transferring the pizza onto the hot stone or steel with a pizza peel. A well-floured or semolina-dusted peel is essential to prevent sticking and ensure a smooth transfer.

Invest in a turning peel (also known as a “peel with a long handle”) to help rotate and evenly cook your pizza in the hot oven. This tool is commonly used in pizzerias.

Variations and Creativity:

While traditional Napoletana pizza adheres to specific ingredient guidelines, there’s room for creativity. Experiment with different toppings, such as prosciutto, arugula, mushrooms, or even truffle oil, while maintaining the core principles of simplicity and quality.

Dough Fermentation:

Try an extended fermentation process for your dough. Cold fermentation in the refrigerator for 24-72 hours can enhance the dough’s flavor and texture, resulting in a more complex and chewy crust.

Cheese and Toppings:

Explore various types of cheese, like burrata or gorgonzola, for unique flavor profiles. Remember that less is often more with Napoletana pizza, so don’t overwhelm your pie with too many toppings.

Cooking Time and Temperature:

Adjust the baking time and temperature to your liking. Some prefer a shorter, intense bake for a softer crust, while others opt for a slightly longer bake for extra crispiness. Experiment and find your perfect balance.

Traditional Margherita and Marinara Variations:

Challenge yourself to make the purest versions of the Margherita and Marinara pizzas. The Margherita should only have tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, and salt, while the Marinara should feature tomatoes, garlic, oregano, olive oil, and salt. Achieving perfection in simplicity can be the ultimate test of your pizza-making skills.

The Pizzaiolo’s Touch:

Remember that the secret ingredient in any great pizza is love. Craft each pizza with care and attention to detail, from the way you stretch the dough to the final drizzle of olive oil.

Sharing the Experience:

Share your homemade Napoletana pizza with family and friends. There’s no better way to appreciate this culinary masterpiece than by enjoying it together with loved ones.

A Lifelong Journey

Crafting the perfect Napoletana pizza is a journey that can span a lifetime. Just as the streets of Naples have witnessed generations of pizzaioli perfecting their craft, you too can continue to refine your pizza-making skills. Embrace the process, learn from each attempt, and savor the moments when you achieve that unmistakable Neapolitan pizza perfection.

As you explore different techniques, ingredients, and variations, you’ll find your own unique style while honoring the rich traditions of this beloved Italian dish. Whether you’re an aspiring pizzaiolo or a pizza enthusiast looking to master the art of Napoletana pizza, the journey is as delicious as the destination. Buon viaggio nella cucina italiana! (Good journey into Italian cuisine!)

In conclusion, Napoletana pizza is more than just a meal; it’s a symbol of Italian culinary heritage, simplicity, and craftsmanship. By following our step-by-step recipe and incorporating advanced techniques, you can create your own authentic Napoletana pizza and embark on a culinary adventure that connects you to centuries of tradition. So, roll out that dough, add your favorite toppings, and savor every bite of your homemade Napoletana masterpiece.


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