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!