Authentic Italian pizza is one of those things that you think should be easy to make – after all, isn’t all pizza Italian? The truth is that in the UK and the US, we have altered it a little and we now pay less attention to the traditions and more to convenience. However, this means that you lose something on the flavour side of things.
A genuine Italian pizza is always prepared and cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven. In Italy, if a pizzeria does not have a wood-fired oven then it is not allowed to use the word pizzeria in its title. There are also regional variations. In Naples, the tradition calls for a thick crust pizza while in the city of Rome, the base is thin-crust. Other regional variations can also be found as you travel through Italy.
One of the most important features of an authentic Italian pizza is the dough. Most recipes that you find will include some yeast and olive oil and the dough is left overnight in the fridge where possible, but for a minimum of 10 hours. When cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven, this dough will cook in just a few minutes.
Always make your pizza with the freshest ingredients possible. Avoid standard cheese that you would use for sandwiches and opt for mozzarella. This can be bought fresh in most delicatessens. Herbs should be as fresh as possible. Basil and oregano are a popular choice for pizzas and the best of the flavour can be harnessed when the leaves are taken fresh from the plant. Fresh tomato also offers great flavour and you can also use extra virgin olive oil and a little garlic to bring an authentic Italian taste to the dish. If you are using ingredients such as spinach these should also be used as fresh as possible.