In our house, we jokingly argue about whether the best pizza is made in Rome or in Naples.
Roman pizza has a thin, light crust which serves as the backdrop for the flavorful additions on top. Neapolitan pizza, on the other hand, is all about the crust. Made from only wheat flour, yeast, salt and water, it is crispy, tender and heartier than the Roman crust.
The dough is hand-tossed, topped perhaps with San Marzano tomatoes and mozzerella di bufala, and then fired in a wood-burning oven at 800° to 900° for up to 90 seconds.
Punch Pizza at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis is one of the places we visit when we want a real pizza. Founded in 1996 with authenticity a top priority, Punch quickly established its credibility with the local Italian community and won over the locals with their exceptional pizzas. Tonight, it was a perfect stop for a Bufalina pizza and a Peroni on tap.
The Bufalina is pizza bianca, which means a pizza without tomatoes. It is topped with mozzarella di bufala, prosciutto and arugula. For something different, ask them to hold the arugula until after the pizza is fired.
Punch is the English name for Pulcinella, a traditional Neapolitan character that that dresses in white and sports a black mask with a long, pointed nose. Pulcinella dates back to the 17th century Commedia dell’Arte, but has now become famous as the crafty, irreverent star of puppet theater and symbol of the similarly irreverent city of Naples.
Italians fold their slice of pizza in half when they eat it in order to keep the tip from sagging. To accomplish this, pick your pizza up by the crust, fold the two corners up and toward the center, and hold the pizza upright so that the toppings do not fall onto your plate.
Punch has a fantastic website with information about its beginnings, the art of Neapolitan pizza-making, life in the city of Naples, and more. When you visit their site, be sure to check out the Buzz page to read the latest reviews, and the Connect page to see who’s been tweeting what about Punch and the city of Naples.
Stefano and Cara to their Neapolitan friend Alfonso: “Alfonso, is the pizza better in Rome or in Naples?”
Alfonso: “The pizza is definitely better in Naples. Pizza in Rome is not as good. Unless the pizzetaio making the pizza in Rome is from Naples, then that pizza is good, too.”