Pizza has the distinction of being both a global phenomenon and a local speciality. You’ll find pizza in most countries around the world, but every nation, if not city, is going to have its own take on the pie. New York-style pizza, Chicago-style pizza, Hawaiian pizza, Mexican pizza, Swedish pizza, Canadian pizza, Japanese pizza…the list of pizza styles is long and full of intrigue.
The origins of pizza as we know it are rooted in Italy – Napoli/Naples, to be precise. In response to the plethora of pizza variations (or imitations, depending on who you ask), an organization was created to monitor and certify pizza quality to true Neapolitan standards.
The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (True Neapolitan Pizza Association, commonly abbreviated as the AVPN) is an international organization that trains pizzaioli, inspects pizzerie around the world, and only provides their seal of approval – VPN certification symbolized by the Pulcinella clown holding a pizza peel – when a stringent list of requirements are met. These specifications concern dough and sauce ingredients, crust thickness, oven construction and temperature, cooking times and methods, as well as the shape and size of the final product.
There are VPN certified pizzerias in dozens of countries around the world. But not all pizzerias in Napoli pursue VPN certification. Both L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele and Gino Sorbillo, must-visits for any pizza-lover, are institutions with their own takes on true Neapolitan pizza. So who’s got the real deal? That’s something you’ll have to figure out for yourself.
If this is the kind of learning you like to do, pick up a copy of Italian Through Food!