Neapolitan pizza, the secret lies in the dough – Italian Cuisine

For the third generation of the historic family of Neapolitan pizza makers, the secret is in the dough. "But be careful not to slap him"

The art of pizza is a World Heritage Site. "The culinary know-how linked to the production of Pizza, which includes gestures, songs, visual expressions, local jargon, the ability to handle pizza dough, perform and share is an indisputable cultural heritage. The pizza makers and their guests engage in a social ritual, whose counter and oven act as a "stage" during the pizza production process ", reads one of the reasons with which UNESCO has already proclaimed four years ago "The art of the Neapolitan pizza maker" Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

A milestone they know well Francesco and Salvatore Salvo, of the Pizzeria Salvo (two locations, one in San Giorgio a Cremano, the other on the Riviera di Chiaia in Naples) which for years have been passionately dedicated to their work, carrying on a tradition that has been handed down for three generations. To do this they started from the basics, studying and working on doughs and cooking, developing gastronomic and entrepreneurial ideas, looking ahead and looking around, also strengthened by this important recognition.

Francesco and Salvatore Salvo (photo Aurora Scotto di Minico).
Francesco and Salvatore Salvo (photo Aurora Scotto di Minico).

«The manual skills of the pizza maker have been forgotten for too long. But it is precisely the craftsmanship that has made the art of Neapolitan pizza unique ". We all have in mind the pizza chef who twirls the pizza disc, almost as if he were slapping it. "But be careful, pizza is not slapped", underlines Salvatore Salvo. In Salvatore's memory there is his father, to whom he owes everything, but also a recent memory. “During the conference Pizzaformamentis a few years ago I asked the Campania oenologist professor Michele Moio what the terroir of pizza was for him; “In your art”, he replied . What he meant was more subtle than it seems. «Our terroir is the ability to manipulate, something that is learned after 10-12 years, what I like to call a 'shop'. Yet this has not always been the case. "Over 50 years ago, the dough was difficult to roll out because most of the time summary leavening was used or with flours classified by pizza makers as" national ", but with a poor predisposition to keep low leavening points. Then in the 80s and 90s this ability was lost in favor of doughs that were easier to work with, which did not require who knows what manual skill, the shop was no longer needed , Salvo recalls disconsolately. "Even my father taught me what hydration was, using non-technical empirical examples:" the dough s'adda fa 'muoll "he said, only after I understood that the water inside increases chemical processes and promotes quality leavening enzymes. The pizza becomes softer, “it melts in your mouth, it doesn't get killed”. Dialectal terms that today I myself would not know how to translate .

Among the fundamental and most difficult things for Salvatore Salvo to learn was the art of knowing how to roll out the pizza. "The terroir of pizza is the ability to make hundreds of pizzas per hour, knowing how to roll them out and cook them at their best, a mechanical job done with your hands, which you learn with experience. The same point of dough, which translates into a number (which makes no sense to me: for example 69, 67, 71) is actually born in the hands of the pizza chef, who realizes how much hydration the dough has, making it more sticky , elastic, sensitive and, despite the support of many modern technologies, intervening in an empirical way .

Pizza Ortolana Autumn November 2021 (photo Angela Sposito).
Pizza Ortolana Autumn November 2021 (photo Angela Sposito).


«When you knead, don't get too hard, the more force and friction you create, the more you affect the development of leavening. Therefore, avoid processes that substantially deform the dough. Unlike bread, which takes longer, for pizza there is no laying period between processing and cooking. Be gentle. This does not mean short leavening: for a pizza made of medium strength flour, it takes 24 hours at room temperature .

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