Top Five Tips For The Best Pizza Ever by Enzo Coccia di Napoli
Last week, concurrent with the World Pizza Championships in Las Vegas, I got to attend a special pizza demonstration by Enzo Coccia of Pizzaria La Notizia in Napoli. For those not completely obsessed with pizza, Chef Enzo is one of the leading names in Pizza Napoletana, founder of the Association Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, helped organize the first Napoli Pizza Fest, and regularly lectures on pizza making while serving as a travelling consultant worldwide. In fact, Coccia was in Vegas at no small expense to spend two days teaching the staff of the Caesars Palace Bacchanal Buffet how to make great pizza his way.
Coccia works very fast (too fast for my camera, as you can see here), and in no time he'd made for us gorgeous, billowy, ephemeral and yet simple, human pizzas: one, a classic Margherita, bright and fresh, another with speck and buffala mozzerella, and finally a quattro formaggio of gorgonzola dolce, fior di latte (cow mozzerella), gran padano and pecorino Sardo (that one didn't photograph as good as it tasted).
Afterward, I asked Coccia, with the translation help of his associate Vincenzo D'Antonio, to give me his five most essential tips for great pizza. Note that he bypasses the obvious: you are of course using a woodburning oven, Italian 00 flour and San Marzano tomatoes (at least for the Margherita), because otherwise, you're not even making real pizza.
1) USE JUST A LITTLE YEAST, THEN THE DOUGH HAS TO BE LEAVENED NOT LESS THAN 10 HOURS AND NOT MORE THAN 14 HOURS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.
2) USE A TECHNIQUE FOR HANDLING THE DOUGH THAT FOLLOWS THE NEAPOLITAN TRADITION, PRESSING DELICATELY WITH FINGERTIPS AND ONLY AFTER THIS PHASE THEN SPIN THE DISK OF PIZZA WITHOUT FORCING AND PULLING IT.
3) FOR TOPPING, USE ONLY INGREDIENTS OF VERY HIGH QUALITY, AND ALWAYS, WHEN POSSIBLE, FRESH.
4) DO NOT COOK PIZZA IN THE OVEN FOR MORE THAN TWO MINUTES. THAT MEANS, THANKS TO THE QUANTITY AND THE QUALITY OF THE WOOD, THE WOOD OVEN HAS TO ACHIEVE THE TEMPERATURE OF ABOUT 450 °C [over 800 F]
5) ENJOY THE PIZZA AS SOON AS IT COMES OUT FROM THE WOOD OVEN. ONLY IN THIS WAY YOU CAN APPRECIATE HOW FRAGRANT, LIGHT AND DIGESTIBLE IT IS.