(This story is sponsored by Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana.)
Of all the food in the world, pizza will always be one of our favourites. It’s the only meal that we consistently reach for regardless of the occasion, the weather, or our mood. It’s hard to think of a time when pizza hasn’t been there for us. That kind of reliability deserves respect. And if there’s anyone who knows how to truly appreciate good food, it’s the Italians.
The owners of Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana (1190 Victoria Drive) are first-generation Canadians with deep family roots in Naples. And just like the city of their ancestors, they take their pizza very seriously. While we might quietly consider ourselves to be experts, the Neapolitans have taken their passion for pizza to a whole new level.
In fact, the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) was created with the sole purpose of restoring and preserving the tradition of authentic Neapolitan pizza. After all, it took more than 100 years to master the craft. To be considered a true Neapolitan pizza, the AVPN worked with the Italian government and the European Union, no less, to come up with a very specific set of criteria.
And like any Italian cuisine, it all starts with some key but simple ingredients: double-zero flour, San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, and extra-virgin olive oil. The dough must then be hand-kneaded and never rolled with a rolling pin or other device. It must be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven at 485°C for no longer than 60 to 90 seconds. Each one should measure 30 centimetres in diameter and should be three millimetres thick at the centre, giving rise to a cornicione (crust) that is one to two centimetres in height.
There’s a lot of science that goes into creating the perfect pizza Napoletana, but the results are pure romance. The finished product is characterized by a raised crust of golden color with hints of char. The white of the mozzarella should appear in evenly spread patches, with the green of the basil leaves slightly darkened from the cooking process. The pizza should be soft, elastic, and easily foldable into a libretto or “booklet”. And our favourite rule? It should be consumed immediately, straight out of the oven, at the pizzeria. As any pizza connoisseur knows, there is the full spectrum of quality. But once you’ve tasted the really good stuff, there’s no going back.
Via Tevere has been delighting Vancouverites with its little slice of Italy since 2012 and is the winner of the Georgia Straight’s Golden Plates 2019 award for best pizzeria. Pizzas arrive at the table uncut, to preserve the soft thin centre and toppings. It’s down to personal preference whether you choose to eat yours with a fork and knife or to rip and fold your pizza with your hands. Neapolitans do both.
In Italy, food is so much more than just sustenance—it’s part of the lifestyle. And there’s a reason that pizza gets its own dedicated course. The owners of Via Tevere hope to share the tradition of their heritage and their experience of family holidays spent in southern Italy by serving delicious, perfect, la vera pizza Napoletana.