A Taste of Naples

by Khushboo on October 22, 2012

Who doesn’t love pizza?  Despite various preferences and taste buds, it’s one of the few dishes which is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Unless of course you’re counting carbs….then we might have a problem but fortunately that’s not mine.  Last week I received an email from the representatives at a new restaurant in Nariman Point, Mumbai called Di Napoli, which serves authentic Italian Pizzas.  Neapolitan to be exact.   It was an invite to “To learn more about the art of crafting authentic Italian pizzas by the world famous connoisseur Giulio Adriani”

I invited my cousin Divya along and we both really enjoyed the afternoon.  Up until watching Chef Giulio make the pizzas, I never thought of pizza making as an art.  The owner of Di Napoli Jai Thakur flew down Chef Guilio from Italy to help set the restaurant up and train the staff.  He actually has 4 pizza world championships under his belt and 3 NYC restaurants devoted to this style of Neapolitan pizza (Forcella in Williamsburg & Noho, and Montara).

As it was already 2.30 pm, we started the session off with lunch first.  Although the menu included salads, pizzas, pastas and desserts, pizza was the name of the game:

  • Di Napoli Margherita: San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil
  • Marinara: Traditional Pizza Napoletana – San Marzano, tomato sauce, garlic, oregano
  • Filetto: Traditional white pizza with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, oregano, Parmesan, garlic
  • Greca: Pizza topped with a fresh salad of diced tomatoes, onion , cucumber, green olives, feta
  • Diavola: Pepperoni, San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil

The Magherita and Marinara sauce were my favourites.  What can I say, I like my pizzas like my men…saucy ;) . The most distinguishing factor of these Neapolitan pizzas was undoubtedly the crust: fluffy, soft, and doughy because of the wood fire oven.  It actually reminded me of naan without the grease factor.

During the demo, Guilio described pizza as being one of the healthiest foods.   He continued to explain that the modern-day pizza has mutilated the concept of pizza to a version that is not healthy. For starters many pizza doughs contain oils/some kind of fat, whereas in retrospect Neapolitan dough contains only 4 ingredients: Water, 00 flour, salt & yeast.  The only fat used is extra virgin oil, which is later drizzled on top.  Between the carbs from the dough, protein from the mozzarella and fats from the olive oil, it can be a well-balanced meal…especially given that the ratio of carbs:fat:protein is 60/30/10.   And hey don’t forget the nutrients in the tomato sauce ;) .

On the topic of tomatoes, I was surprised to learn about the simplicity of Neapolitan sauce: canned tomato puree (preserved in tomato juices). There’s no heating up required, no crying from chopping onions, and no lingering stench from touching garlic.  The only added flavours are salt (optional) and fresh basil.  Some other interesting tidbits which he mentioned:

  • When preparing the pizza, mozzarella is cut into chunks as opposed to slices.  This is so the cheese doesn’t spread all over, and instead each bite alternates between tangy and cheesy.
  • Part-skim mozzarella and ricotta are the safest kinds of cheese for those with high cholesterol
  • Each Neapolitan pizza crust is made up 66% of water and 34% flour
  • The less toppings the better, otherwise there are too many competing flavors
  • So that it can be stretched out and for a chewy texture, pizza dough needs to be elastic.  As a result, wheat flour is preferred or at least a combination of wheat flour & whole-wheat flour
  • Because of the extremely short cooking time (60-90 seconds), the oil does have enough time to convert into trans fat

You would think that Saturday afternoon would have left me pizza’ed out.  Let’s be honest…is that ever possible?   Nope, which is why I am glad to have Di Napoli so nearby to satisfy my pizza cravings, especially one that clearly puts effort into maintaining a high standard.  As much as I’d love to visit Naples soon, I’m glad I was able to at least get a taste of it  :)!

What are your favorite pizza toppings? Mushrooms are a must for me!

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Parita October 22, 2012 at 7:52 pm

I always knew my love for pizza stemmed from a healthy place!! And I love the mozzerella cheese tip – def. using that next time! And my favorite toppings are pineapple and olives…YUM!

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Khushboo October 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm

As common as pineapple on pizzas have become, I am still yet to try it out…I am going to take your word for it :) !

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Alex @ therunwithin October 22, 2012 at 7:55 pm

man that looks good, good pizza like that can knock any craving.

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Khushboo October 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Truth!

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Allie October 22, 2012 at 7:55 pm

There is nothing like a real, quality wood-fired pizza! So jealous that you got to taste several–and had an interesting lesson in the meantime. Pizza (the good homemade kind) IS good for you! It’s just those takeout ones with 2 inches of low-quality cheese that aren’t exactly a reasonable meal. Mmm, my weekend was pizza-filled too…and now your post has me wanting more. And did you learn how to toss pizza crust dough? That always impresses me.

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Khushboo October 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Funny you ask that because he pointed out that Neapolitan pizza dough is not tossed. I did a quick Google to find out why not: “Italian 00 flour used to make Neapolitan pizza is worlds apart from high gluten flour used to make new york style pizza, and as an effect the dough will not be strong enough to toss.”

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Allie October 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Woah, so the whole tossing the crust thing is New York-ian and not Italian? I always thought that’s where it originated, interesting!

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Khushboo October 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Haha although I am not skilled enough to toss the dough, it’s always fun watching the chefs do so!

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Brittany October 22, 2012 at 10:39 pm

WHAT a blast!!! So cool that you had this opportunity! I lovee pizza, I love homemade pizza and a new to my topping that I love is POTATO! SO weird I know, but SO good!

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Khushboo October 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm

That does sound kinda weird but it’s always the weirdest concoctions that taste best! I saw a recipe a while back on sweet potato-stuffed crust pizzas….has your name all over it :) !

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Tara @ Sweat like a Pig October 22, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Uhhh, that looks amazing!!! I love me some pizza, and I’m thrilled to hear it’s healthy :D It’s funny how you mention that. I always feel so gross after eating cheap pizza, and it always boggled my mind at how many calories it contained (seriously, Dominos and Pizza Hut should NOT have decided to print their nutritional stats on the box, lol!). But when I have real, home-cooked pizza from a nice restaurant, or make it myself from scratch, it never feels like I’m eating anything bad. There was an Italian restaurant next to my gym in Sydney, and I would often grab a few slices of pizza post workout without even thinking. Now that I’m carb-loading at night, pizza is an easy option!

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Khushboo October 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Whaaat – I had no idea that Dominoes/Pizza Hut put the cal count on their boxes..that can’t be good for business! And pizza after a workout sounds like a great idea, at least when it’s made right!

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Kym October 23, 2012 at 3:06 am

Definitely can’t go wrong with pizza… in fact, i’m craving one right now. Haha! My fave topping would have to be bacon, definitely bacon…. and mushrooms too! I agree about pizza being distorted nowadays because of how it’s made by quick delivery places like pizza hut, dominos, etc… when you break down the ingredients and make it from home where you know exactly what’s in it… it’s actually not unhealthy the way it’s labeled these days! *mmmmmm* pizzzzzza.

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Khushboo October 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm

That’s one of the reasons I hate when some foods are labelled as “unhealthy”…it all comes down to how you make it! When I tell people that I eat waffles for breakfast, they’re taken aback….the only difference is that mine aren’t loaded with sugar, butter, and white flour!

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Amanda @ .running with spoons. October 23, 2012 at 3:32 am

Oh gosh, what I wouldn’t give to have an authentic Italian pizza – I don’t honestly know if I’d even be able to handle that degree of deliciousness, but I’d sure be up for giving it a shot ;) I love pizza, but not from any of the bigger chains like Pizza Hut or Dominos – that stuff is just nasty. When I go for pizza, it’s always either homemade or from a local Italian joint… and it HAS to have cheese ;) And chicken or Italian sausage don’t hurt either.

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Khushboo October 23, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I went through a phase of trying to convince myself that I preferred cheeseless pizza. As tasty as it is, you just can’t beat pizza with ooey, gooey mozzarella!

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Alexis @ Hummusapien October 23, 2012 at 6:52 am

I LOVE this! Pizza is totally health food in my book. The greca sounds amaaaaazing!

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Khushboo October 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm

The greca was good…kinda like a salad flat bread! :)

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Vandana October 23, 2012 at 7:00 am

Yummmmy… would love to eat some now…. I love mainly jalapenos, olives on my pizza and well, anything else is fine. Love garlic dipping butter as a side. Had a great time with Papa John’s Pizzas while in the US, but now Pizza hut is a bit boring because of the one and only option of Veggie Lover here in Malaysia. Must find out customized pizza options or else make it at home.

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Khushboo October 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm

That garlic butter is SO good…love dipping the crusts in it (I don’t care how bad it is for you)! Love when they also give an extra side of marinara sauce for dipping!

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Jess October 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Oh sounds like an awesome afternoon. How interesting! I Love pizza and I agree simple is better. Mushrooms and olives are my favourite!

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Khushboo October 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Oh yes, olives on pizza are great…preferably black olives!

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Sonal October 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm

This sounds like such a great and delicious experience! I’ve never been to Naples but have been to Rome and Venice and yes, it is worth going just for the pizza :D My absolutely favourite topping is…..chillies/ jalapenos! :)

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Khushboo October 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I thank cinema nachos for introducing me to the delicious combination of cheese & jalapenos ;) !

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Dixya @ Food, Pleasure and Health October 23, 2012 at 7:12 pm

you surely had a great afternoon. I love pizza in general as long as the crust is thin with only few ingredients. Like you mentioned, I do not like pizza overloaded with 5 different toppings. My absolute favorite is tomato & basil.

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Khushboo October 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I used to go CRAZY with veggie toppings but like you, I am starting to appreciate the “less is more” notion!

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Natalie @ Free Range Human October 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm

I love a good Margherita pizza. This sounds so good!

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Khushboo October 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Same here…even better with a side of margarita ;) !

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Corrie Anne October 24, 2012 at 9:57 am

I love pizza — I always order Magherita pizzas! Love them!

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Khushboo October 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Can’t go wrong with the classic!

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Sara @ Nourish and Flourish October 24, 2012 at 10:23 am

My mouth is watering! I truly believe that authentic Italian pizza is one of the most perfect foods in the world. In addition to the macro ratios Guilio mentioned, you can’t beat the combination of textures–crunchy, doughy, gooey, saucy! What more could you want? ;)

Even though I grew up eating *good* pizza (I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and my favorite place to go was Alice Waters’ restaurant, Chez Panisse Cafe for the pizza of the day), I became completely disenchanted with the stuff while I was in college. I blame you, Dominoes! Oh, and not to mention, the (false) belief that pizza wasn’t healthy. Rubbish. After college I fell in love all over again when I discovered a place in DC called Two Amy’s. The pizza there is simply…perfect. :) (Although, I’ve never been to Italy, so I’m going by US standards). When I found out I had to go gluten free, I’m pretty sure the first words out of my mouth were, “you mean, I can’t eat pizza anymore?” Unfortunately there just aren’t any good GF crusts out there. I’m holding out hope though. ;)

My favorite pizza toppings are fresh tomato sauce, and fresh cheese (either mozzarella, goat or feta). I also love adding sauteed garlic spinach, and if I’m feeling slightly more adventurous, caramelized onions.

xoxo <3

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Khushboo October 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Ohh caramelized onions are a fantastic topping- they add so much flavor! I know that it’s not as doughy as crusts made from wheat flour but have you ever tried making pizza at home with a socca base? If not, you must give it a go as it’s SO simple: chickpea flour, egg whites (or water), and your preferred herbs!

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The British Asian Blog October 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I totally agree, making a pizza is art in itself. I can say that, as being an owner of two fast food outlets in the UK (and a third one around the corner) Pizza is always making me money.

In saying that, pizza is not easy to make as you have so much ingredients to play with, and to understand which ingredients go with which takes some experience and trail and error. I remember, when I first opened our Pizza section, I had to pay for an expensive Turkish/Italian pizza chef for a month to show me the ropes, well not me directly but to the staff, and since then, as we perfected his method, we have seen sales go through the roof.

I loved this post, and in December when I go to India, I shall try to taste Pizza in India, which I have never had.

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Khushboo October 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm

No way, that’s awesome that you are in the restaurant industry! Any chance you’re able to disclose the names of your fast food outlets?

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honeywhatscooking October 26, 2012 at 1:43 am

wow, this looks amazing. How lucky are you to receive an invite. I’m so impressed Mumbai’s culinary scene is booming, really have to visit Mumbai instead of Delhi in the future. It would be so fun! Naples is where pizza was invented, so yeah it’s probably amazing. I visited Naples, but sadly didn’t love it.. but the pizza was delicious. THe crust was slightly burnt, but I believe that is just how their pizza is cooked, and it looks like your pizza crust was slightly burnt too.
Favorite Pizza toppings… definitely mushrooms and olives. And I occasionally don’t mind jalapenos. I love mine spicy, just like my men. :-) Bad Joke!

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Khushboo October 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Haha if that’s a bad joke, I must have a terrible sense of humor…I definitely appreciated it ;) !

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Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli October 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Aww, this looks like such a fun day! I LOVE pizza and have ever since I was little. If I could eat it everyday, I totally would! Mmm, that Filetto is calling to me, I swear!

I love mixing it up with pizza toppings, but a few must haves are onions, bell peppers, and black olives!

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Khushboo October 31, 2012 at 11:30 am

Onions on pizza are the best…even better if they’re caramelized!!

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Gayatri October 31, 2012 at 3:11 am

“Part-skim mozzarella and ricotta are the safest kinds of cheese for those with high cholesterol” – Must keep that in mind for Carnivore. My fav pizza topping is goat cheese. Can’t and won’t live without it. I put goat cheese on a paneer tikka pizza as well.

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Khushboo October 31, 2012 at 11:38 am

I am taking you here when you come…paneer tikka pizza is on the menu! I know you’re not a meat eater but I am sure you’ll get a kick to know that they have a butter chicken pizza: the sauce is butter chicken gravy and it’s topped with the chicken & mozzarella.

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