Photo by Faith Willinger
It's not fair. Most of the stuff sold as pizza isn't worthy of the name. True, great pizza is divine, a combination of ingredients, skill, equipment, and artistry. Mediocre pizza may satisfy me in a pinch, but I draw the line at horribleover-yeasted, undercooked crusts; inappropriate or excessive toppings; cheap ingredients; less-than-blistering ovens. Even in Italy (and even in Napoli, the birthplace of pizza), it's not easy. Pizza topped with sliced hot dogs or French fries? Just say no.
Being passionate about pizza, I have decided to create the Unofficial Platinum Pizza Awards for the greatest pizzerias in Italy in three different categoriestraditional, innovative, and by the slice. I've tasted all over the country. The winning pizzaioli are fanatical about pizza and share an obsession with quality flour, natural yeast, and lengthy rising, which results in a more flavorful and digestible crust. And we all know how important digestion is for Italians. And the winners of the Platinum Pizza Awards are...
Traditional: La Notizia
In the traditional category, Enzo Coccia's pizzeria in Napoli, La Notizia ("The News," a reference to Enzo's favorite film, Citizen Kane). Enzo uses La Farina del Pizzaiolo from Molino Caputo, ideal for his long rising at room temperature. He makes a perfect crust: chewy, thick in the Neapolitan style, blasted for 60 to 90 seconds in a traditional domed wood-burning oventemperature 770 to 890 F. Toppings are classic and first-rate, like local anchovies, barely cooked tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, zucchini flowers (fiorilli), and broccoli greens. The proportion of dough to toppings is just right. Enzo's marinara (tomato, garlic, oregano) and Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil) are the best I've ever tasted. There's also a nice selection of sparkling wines and artisanal beer. Enzo is expanding in April, moving down the street to via Caravaggio 94/A, where he will have a bigger wine and beer selection and a counter of artisanal cheese and salumi. His current location will be take-out only.