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The "best" way to eat a Neapolitan pizza?

When you have a properly made Neapolitan pizza (ie., where the crust is thin, soft and with a little bit of a crunchy crust, and where the cornizone is blistered and slightly charred and blackened), what is the "best" way to eat it?

I am told today, quite emphatically by the way, that the best way -- and dare I say the "only proper way" -- to attack a Neapolitan pizza is thusly.

1. Let it sit for about 2 minutes after it's served from a wood-burning oven
2. Then lift it up and make a libretto out of the pie
3. Fold in half, so you go from full circle, to semi-circle.
4. Then take the semi-circle and fold it in half again to you have a conical or triangular shape.
5. Now, you get to eat.

True?

What do you think?

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  1. The ipsedixit is wrong.

    Never let a proper pizza Napoletana cool. You have a knife and fork, use them to first cut the pie into quarters and then move the slice to your plate. Continue with the knife and fork while the pie is still molten.

    Over time, migrate to a hand-held technique as things cool if you're uncomfortable with a knife and fork.

    A house red works for some, a beer is better.

    18 Replies
    1. re: steve h.

      Look, I'm not espousing this technique, or saying that another one is better.

      I'm just asking if what I was told is true or not.

      After posting, I did a bit of research and this is what Mario Batali had to say about letting a Neapolitan pizza cool, or rest, before eating:

      "[E]ven though you're hungry, let it sit for two minutes on the table before you try to eat it, because then it sets. If not, it's so hot you pick it up and the topping slides off. It's not good for anybody. It's soup on a wet crustino basically."

      Read more from Mario here: http://www.slashfood.com/2010/09/10/m...

      [shrug]

      1. re: ipsedixit

        No worries.

        I spend a lot of my time in pizza joints in Naples and Rome (two very different pizza cultures).

        Post this on the Italy Board and you'll probably get the same two positions described here.

        At the end of the day, a really good pizza is a delicate thing that loses its attraction as it cools. Wait two minutes? Not for me. Others will differ.

        just my $0.02.

        1. re: steve h.

          As an aside, don't you find something missing in the pizza experience when eaten with knife and fork?

          No matter the type of pizza, I always prefer my digits as the vehicle of getting pizza from pan to mouth. With Chicago pizza being the one possible exception ...

          1. re: ipsedixit

            It all goes back to your "let it sit two minutes..." thing. While revenge is a dish best served cold, a very good pizza Napoletana is best served piping hot (right out of the wood-fired oven). A knife and fork limits the burn stuff. Fingers work as things cool. The down side is that the cooler pizza is not as tasty.

            On a different tack, supper this evening was a lovely "scottadito".

          2. re: steve h.

            But will a couple of minutes really make that big of a difference in the taste? It should still be piping hot. But it may be the difference between scorching your tongue and not tasting anything or hot enough to still appreciate all the flavors.

            1. re: Jase

              For a normal human being, it would probably take more than 2 minutes to finish the whole pie anyway.

              So, I think allowing the pie to rest may have its benefits. Aside from allowing the temp to cool, it might also allow some of the flavors to blossom and blend with one another.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                I have to respectfully disagree. A good pizza Napoletana begins to deteriorate as soon as it's taken out of the oven. The last piece is never as good as the first.
                Let wines breathe, let cooked meats rest. Eat your pizza as soon as it comes out of the oven.

                just my $0.02.

                1. re: steve h.

                  I'm going to have to try this sometime, steve.

                  Although probably not with a true Neapolitan pie, but next time I make pizza at home I'm going to make two identical ones, and eat one straight out of my oven, and another one allowing it to rest a bit.

                  Say a prayer for the roof of my mouth ...

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Sounds like a great idea. I bake pizza margheritas at home. Maybe use that as a baseline. A multi-topping pie is a whole different animal and is maybe beyond the original scope of this thread (pizza Napoletana).

                    The remedy for hot-out-of-the-oven pizza is cold beer and a knife and fork. Pay particular attention to the taste of the first slice and the taste of the last. Drink more beer as appropriate.

                    Best of luck.

                    1. re: steve h.

                      I keep my pies simple. Usu. just cheese, EVOO, tomatoes and maybe some basil, onions or minced garlic.

                        1. re: steve h.

                          And this is how I do it.

                          Preheat my oven as high as it can go. Heat up my cast-iron pan on the stovetop until it's screaming hot. Flip the pan upside down, place the pizza on the flipped over pan's bottom, stick it in the oven, and voiila, pizza!

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Have you tried oven on broil? This might be a good reason to get a cast iron grill top. Bigger pizzas.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Mighty impressive. I use a pizza stone but like you I crank the oven all the way up and keep it there for at least an hour before baking. Let me know how the "pepsi challenge" works out.

                2. re: Jase

                  One major reason why eating it fast matters for me is that the olive oil in the sauce soaks through and into the crust, which causes it to change from crisp to soggy.

                  1. re: limster

                    Howdy limster,
                    Pizza is serious stuff. How's the UK treating you?

                    1. re: steve h.

                      Howdy! Not as easy to find good pizza in London, but Franco Manca in Brixton Village isn't bad.

          3. Ipse, I'm with you and Batali on this one. I NEVER eat pizza with a knife and fork. If you don't let it cool, you risk that lovely, blistering burn on your palate.

            2 Replies
            1. re: iluvcookies

              I'm with you--I've burned the roof of my mouth far too many times on hot pizza. I use my hands but might guide the tip w/ a fork, if it's droopy. I don't like to fold but maybe that would help w/ the burned mouth.

              1. re: chowser

                Burning your mouth on the first bite really ruins the rest of the pie for you, doesn't it?

            2. I don't think the waiting time is necessary. If you are eating in a restaurant, it takes at least a minute or two for the pizza to be removed from the oven and placed at your table. It can take longer than that in some establishments. The waiting, unless you are removing the pizza from the oven yourself (as Batali might be), is built into the serving time.

              My biggest question is your description of a "properly made" Neopolitan pizza being slightly charred and blackened. I get that "well done" is desireable, but black is bitter -- and I disagree with that premise.

              A well done pizza is best eaten by cutting into slices and folding them in half. Forks and knives are optional.

              1 Reply
              1. re: RGC1982

                Charring and leoparding is pretty much standard for Neapolitan style pizza. I would say "proper."

              2. if im in a hurry (2 slices for lunch) they get sandwiched together.
                if im eating normally..it gets kinda folded in the middle so the middle pointy end doesnt flop down ..just so that the toppings dont fall off (and no it must be hot)

                the only pizza ive ever eaten with a fork is that weird chicago pie thingy they eat there....

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