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Pizza Napoletana vs Pizza Romana

A Sunday afternoon in Italy is synonymous with watching a game of calcio, better known as soccer or football and of course PIZZA. No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen cooking when Ronaldo scores. Whether you’re crowded around the living room table, pulling up a stool at the local bar, or fighting for the table closest to the TV at a favourite pizzeria, there is no better way to enjoy game night than with some beer and a hot cheesy pizza. Possibly the only dinner table debate that rivals ‘which team will win the game?’ would be ‘which kind of pizza is better?’ – Napoletana or Romana? This is the age-old question that will determine which pizzeria you frequent and which team you are on. Are you a Rome fan or a Napoli fan?

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We all know the humble pizza in its many shapes and forms. Although it is loved and eaten all around the world, it first originated in Naples. It was created as a poor man’s street food, designed to be eaten by labourers on the go who were rushing between jobs. At that time, they were usually topped with the most basic of ingredients like garlic, salt and lard. The pizza really came to life as we know it today in 1889 when Italian royalty King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples. A local pizzaiolo or pizza maker at Antica Pizzeria Brandi was summoned to prepare some Neapolitan specialities for the queen who was tired of being served fancy international dishes on her travels. He created a pizza inspired by the colours of the Italian flag using red tomatoes, white mozzarella and green basil. The queen loved the creation and the margherita pizza was named after her from that point on.

A traditional Neapolitan style pizza is characterised by a soft, chewy centre with a puffy and aerated crust, San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella from their Campania region. The pizza is topped with minimal ingredients, keeping it simple, with some pizzerias like the famous Da Michele serving only Margherita and Marinara pizzas to hungry customers that wait for hours just to get in the door.

It’s cooked in a wood fired oven for a maximum of 90 seconds at a scorching 450 degrees. Neapolitans take their pizza so seriously that there is said to be a ‘pizza police’ organisation which examines the quality of ingredients, procedures and techniques used in all pizzerias in the city who are claiming to serve ‘Pizza Napoletana’ to make sure that the tradition and integrity of the pizza is being upheld.

On the other hand, pizza Romana has a thin, crisp and crunchy crust which makes it stable enough to hold more toppings. The pizza is cooked at a lower heat of around 350 degrees for a longer period of time closer to 3 minutes. It’s common to find it cut into squares and sold al taglio or by the slice as roman street food.

Don’t even think about cheering for both teams or sharing pizzas on game night. In Italy, each person orders their own. There’s no such thing as having just a slice or two. In fact, it’s common for a pizza to be served without being sliced at all! Don’t feel defeated just yet though, the pizza dough is traditionally left to rise over a 24 to 48 hour period making them lighter and easier to digest so it may not be such a challenge after all. At the end of the day, the Napoletana and the Romana styles of pizza have one thing in common- they’re both buonissimo! So everybody’s a winner.