These 10 Bethesda-area pizzerias have captured our attention
Neapolitan vs. New York
Neapolitan pizza, usually about 11-inches in diameter, has a puffy cornicione (crust) and its dough is very thin in the center. It is baked between 750 and 900 degrees in a wood-burning oven for 90 seconds or less. It is soupy in the center and meant to be eaten with a knife and fork. Crushed or chopped fresh or high-quality canned Roma tomatoes take the place of cooked tomato sauce. (The Italian San Marzano variety of tomato is used most often.) The cheese is fresh mozzarella, either made from buffalo milk or fior di latte (“flower of milk”) from a cow. What you typically find, however, is Neapolitan-influenced pizza that bends the rules according to the chef’s personal preferences. An Italian organization called the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) awards the designation of “real Neapolitan pizza” according to stringent guidelines. No Maryland restaurant has such certification, according to the website of VPN Americas, a branch of AVPN.
New York-style pizzas are generally big—more than 14 inches—and typically baked in deck ovens. The deck is the stone base of the oven where pizzas are placed. The temperature is between 500 and 600 degrees. Like Neapolitan pizza, the dough is pulled thin and has a puffy crust, but it’s usually made with coarser flour, and with sugar and oil in the dough. Tomato sauce is cooked and oregano-forward. The cheese is usually a mix of shredded whole milk mozzarella and shredded part-skim milk mozzarella. (Grande block mozzarella is the brand that’s often singled out.) The most important characteristic of New York-style pizza? The bottom crust has to be firm but pliant so you can pick it up and fold it inward before eating. (And it should be sold by the slice in addition to whole pies.)