June marks the birthday of the Margherita Pizza, one of the worlds most beloved dishes. In celebration of this delicious invention, Restaurateur/Chef Nick Accardi, dishes up distinguishing tips on how to make Vera Napoletana (true Neapolitan) Margherita Pizza from his Hell’s Kitchen Trattoria, Tavola.
In June of 1889 a Neapolitan tavern owner, Raffaele Esposito served the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy a special dish named in her honor. The wood-fired Flatbread was topped with Melted Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce and Basil leaves, symbolizing the colors of the Italian Flag. The Queen was so pleased with the meal that she had a wood-fired “flat-bread oven” built in the palace.
Ten Tips to Make True Neapolitan Pizza
-Measure by weight rather than volume to get the perfect water to flour ratio. Many elements can change the density of ingredients such as age, storage temperature or environmental climate. Measuring by weight assures the perfect hydration ratio.
-Use double zero flour a highly refined flour which has been milled to standard “00” and completely free of bran or germ. You will never go back to All-Purpose!
-Allow dough to rise for 24 hours at Room temperature. The bare minimum standard is 6 hours (after mixing let the dough rise for 2 hours Then hand cut and roll into small balls, let rise for 4 more hours)
-New York City Tap water is THE BEST secret ingredient in making the perfect pizza dough
-Use your hands to gently work the dough from the center outward. A real pizzaiolo never use a rolling pin.
-Use San Marzano Tomatoes for the pizza sauce like a bona fide pro which are easy to find in grocery stores today.
-Vera Napoletana Pizza must be made using only fresh, all-natural, non-processed ingredients including Fior di Latte (Cows Milk) or Bufala mozzarella, fresh Basil and drizzled with REAL Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Use Genuine Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Over 50% of grocery store Olive Oil Brands falsely advertise “Extra Virgin”on the bottle. Tavola, in Hell’s Kitchen NY, exclusively imports the Champion in this genre; single estate “Noccellara del Belice” Castelvetrano extra virgin olive oil* directly from the orchards sold in store for $17 per liter.
-Less is More: Don’t drown a pizza in sauce and toppings. The most delicious pies use smaller portions of the highest quality of fresh ingredients.
-A thin crust is the signature trait of Neapolitan pizza. While having a wood fired oven at home is not common these days, making your crust as thin as possible will allow for fast cooking time, which intensifies and seals in the flavors of each ingredient. Note: The Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana* requires the thickness of the crust to be 1-2 cm
About Nick Accardi:
Restaurateur/Chef and native New Yorker, Nick Accardi, has been making his mark among renown food journalists and patrons as a purist in regional Italian cuisine for over 25 years. His accomplishments include Manhattan’s iconic Viceroy as well as the Flatiron canteen, the Cast Iron Cafe. Accardi is responsible for contributing to Chelsea’s transformation with the addition of Cola’s, an authentic regional Lazio (Rome) and Campania (Sicily) Italian restaurant, established in 1988 and known today as a thriving neighborhood staple. offering new and inventive dishes.
Accardi is currently the chef and owner of Tavola, previously the famous Manganaro’s Grosseria which features the largest imported wood-burning dual oven in Manhattan, made from the volcanic clay of Mount Vesuvius.
*The Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana is the Official governing organization which maintains the standards and regulations of all Pizzaioli and Establishments serving Vera Napoletana Pizza
*The town of Castelvetrano and the Italian Ministry of Agriculture strictly govern the production and sale of the Olives and the prized nectar to assure it hasn’t been tainted with low-grade vegetable oils and add artificial coloring.