Healthy Pizza? The Secrets of the Neapolitan

We love pizza for the dough, the sauce, the cheese..

Crust just the right level of crispiness; cheese bubbling away on the surface; toppings gently melting into the creamy tomato sauce beneath…

But they say it’s bad for us, right? It’s unhealthy and full of calories! But not all pizzas are created equal. While regular consumption of takeaways and supermarket favourites might leave you feeling rather sluggish, there is one type of pizza in particular that is far healthier than the rest. We are talking about the Neapolitan. 

What is a Neapolitan Pizza?

You are probably familiar with different types of pizza: the deep dish, the Chicago, the stuffed crust, the calzone… Well, Neapolitan pizza is like none of these.

Originating from the Italian city of Naples, the Neapolitan isn’t about quantity and size. It isn’t about stuffing everything you can into the pizza. It’s about sophistication and delicacy, producing a unique taste and texture.

To start with, you need a base. It has to be made from the exact ratio of proper ingredients — strong Italian ”00” flour, water, salt and yeast — and should also be no more than three millimetres thick.

Then come the toppings. You can add whatever toppings you want to a Neapolitan, but the basics of mozzarella and tomato must be there. It isn’t Neapolitan without them.
However, it really isn’t that simple. If it was, every pizza could be a Neapolitan.

Secrets of a Neapolitan

The mozzarella in question must be buffalo mozzarella, made from the milk of buffalo that roam the marshlands of Campania and Lazio in Italy. If it comes from somewhere else, it isn’t the right mozzarella and it is not a Neapolitan pizza.

Known to have a richer, fuller taste, any pizza aficionado knows you can’t hide good buffalo mozzarella behind its standard cousin. As you might expect, the tomatoes used have to fit certain criteria, too. Only those grown on the southern volcanic plains of the legendary Mount Vesuvius will do.

Called San Marzano tomatoes, they look more like chilli peppers than the traditional round, red fruit and pack an unmistakable taste; a stronger, less acidic flavour. They’re also  a lot sweeter than your normal tomato. This makes up the special Neapolitan sauce — no sugary canned tomato blends here.

Three millimetres thick, made from natural ingredients imported from specific regions of Italy; you are probably starting to piece together why this pizza is healthier than the rest.

Still don’t believe us?

Check out this chef in New York who  lost nearly 100 pounds eating only his own Neapolitan pizza. How?

Let’s check the stats:

If you were to get a typical takeaway pizza from your local place and picked up a standard, medium (12”) tomato and cheese pizza, you’d be looking at around 1700 calories, 20 grams of sugar and 60 grams of fat.

A Neapolitan of the same size, though, consists of around 850 calories, 4.5 grams of sugar and 30 grams of fat. The difference is plain to see: you basically get half of the all bad stuff, but still get to eat the most delicious food in the world. Not a bad trade, right?

One of the biggest secrets behind making this far healthier option is the rise time. After making the dough, it can be left to rise for up to 36 hours. During this long fermentation process, the yeast eats away at the sugars of the dough, making it not only healthier and less calorific, but also easier to digest and more satisfying.  

So, after all this talk of pizza, you probably want some for yourself. 

Here’s the authentic recipe for Neapolitan pizza dough 

George Austin