Though first popularized in the United States by Italian immigrants to New York City after World War II, the town of Naples, Italy has long lay claim to being the birthplace of modern pizza. During the 1800s, Naples (or Napoli, as the Italians call it) had a thriving working class that lived near the waterfront of this port city. Street vendors sold slices of flat bread, called pizza, to these many laborers as a cheap meal they could eat while on the go.
About 1889, Naples chef Raffaele Esposito made a pizza and used basil, mozzarella and tomato sauce on top of it. Some versions of the story say Queen Margherita requested he bake her a pizza after she had seen many Naples residents eating the treat; other versions say she came to visit Naples and Esposito made the pizza in her honor using toppings that recreated the colors of the Italian flag: Green, white and red.
But regardless of the specifics, Margherita pizza was born in Naples and chefs have been finding variations of the pie ever since.
Here at Char Pizzeria Napoletano, we stay as true as possible to the original pizza from Naples. Our staff is certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN), which governs restaurants that specialize in Neapolitan-style traditional pizza.
To qualify, the dough must be hand-mixed or mixed a very slow speed and then hand rolled and tossed to make the 11-inch pies. The type of yeast is also specified, as is the types of vegetables and cheese – all imported from specific regions in Italy to remain authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Our pizzas are cooked in a custom wood-fire oven that burns only oak and pecan branches to a temperature of about 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Neapolitan pizzas are cooked on the stone hearth adjacent the fire and arrive with the edges slightly charred with wood ash. Neapolitan pizzas are not supposed to be cut into slices, but rather eaten by hand or with knife and fork. The centers are slightly moist, or soupy, and ingredients do not cover every inch of the crust as in most American-style derivatives.
At Char Pizzeria, it our intent to make the most authentic Neapolitan-style pizza we can and to share our passion for this Italian tradition with our customers.