If there’s one thing that makes Neapolitan pizza so special, it’s the cheese. The perfect cheese for your Neapolitan pizza is the one that will complement the toppings, enhance the flavor, and provide that delicious stringy, gooey texture that we all look for in a pizza. But with so many different types of cheese available, how do you know which one to choose? In this article, we’ll explore the best cheese for Neapolitan pizza and help you make the perfect pizza every time!
Understanding the Neapolitan Pizza and its cheese requirements
Let’s begin by taking a look at what makes Neapolitan pizza so special. Neapolitan pizza is a traditional style of pizza that originated in Naples, Italy. It’s a simple pizza that consists of thin crust, tomato sauce, and fresh cheese. The cheese used on Neapolitan pizza is specifically designed to melt and stretch as it bakes in a wood-fired oven, giving it a unique texture that sets it apart from other styles of pizza.
One of the key requirements for Neapolitan pizza cheese is that it must be made from fresh milk. This is because fresh milk contains enzymes that help the cheese to melt and stretch properly. The cheese must also be made using traditional methods, such as hand-stretching and using natural rennet, to ensure that it has the right texture and flavor.
Another important aspect of Neapolitan pizza cheese is that it must be used sparingly. The cheese is meant to complement the other ingredients on the pizza, rather than overpower them. In fact, the guidelines set by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) state that a Neapolitan pizza should have no more than 80-100 grams of cheese per pizza.
Mozzarella – The traditional cheese for Neapolitan Pizza
The traditional cheese used on Neapolitan pizza is Mozzarella. It’s a soft, mild cheese made from the milk of buffalo or cows. Mozzarella is the perfect cheese for Neapolitan pizza because it has a high moisture content, which makes it melt and stretch beautifully in the oven. It also has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that complements the tomato sauce and other toppings.
In addition to being the perfect cheese for Neapolitan pizza, Mozzarella is also a great source of protein and calcium. It’s a healthier option compared to other types of cheese, as it contains less fat and calories. Mozzarella is also a versatile cheese that can be used in a variety of dishes, such as salads, sandwiches, and pasta. It’s no wonder that Mozzarella is one of the most popular cheeses in the world!
Fresh vs Aged Mozzarella: Which is best for your pizza?
When it comes to Mozzarella, there are two types to choose from: fresh and aged. Fresh Mozzarella is a soft cheese that comes in small balls or larger blocks. It’s great for Neapolitan pizza because it melts beautifully in the oven and has a fresh, delicate flavor. Aged Mozzarella, on the other hand, is a firmer cheese that has been aged for at least a few months. It has a sharper flavor and is best used sparingly, as it can overpower the other toppings on your pizza. When choosing between fresh and aged Mozzarella, it all comes down to personal preference.
Another factor to consider when choosing between fresh and aged Mozzarella is the texture. Fresh Mozzarella has a soft, creamy texture that adds a pleasant contrast to the crispy crust of your pizza. Aged Mozzarella, on the other hand, has a firmer texture that can add a satisfying chewiness to your pizza.
It’s also worth noting that the type of pizza you’re making can influence your choice of Mozzarella. If you’re making a classic Margherita pizza, fresh Mozzarella is the way to go. However, if you’re making a pizza with bold, flavorful toppings like spicy sausage or salty anchovies, aged Mozzarella can hold its own and complement those flavors nicely.
Burrata – The delicate cheese that adds a creamy texture to your pizza
If you’re looking to take your Neapolitan pizza to the next level, Burrata is an excellent cheese choice. Burrata is a fresh cheese that consists of a outer shell of Mozzarella with a creamy, milky filling. When placed on top of a hot Neapolitan pizza, the Burrata melts and spreads its delicious creaminess all over the pizza. It’s perfect for people who love a decadent, creamy texture to their pizza.
Burrata originated in the Apulia region of Italy and has been a staple in Italian cuisine for centuries. It’s made by hand, using a technique that involves stretching and shaping the Mozzarella into a pouch, which is then filled with a mixture of cream and shredded Mozzarella. The result is a cheese that is both delicate and rich in flavor, with a texture that is soft and creamy.
Ricotta – A unique and flavorful choice for Neapolitan Pizza
Another cheese that is perfect for Neapolitan pizza is Ricotta. Ricotta is a fresh cheese made from milk and whey. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with the tomato sauce and other toppings on your pizza. Ricotta is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a unique and flavorful cheese that will set your Neapolitan pizza apart from the rest.
Not only is Ricotta a delicious cheese for Neapolitan pizza, but it also has some health benefits. Ricotta is a good source of protein and calcium, which are essential for maintaining strong bones and muscles. Additionally, it is lower in fat and calories compared to other cheeses like mozzarella or Parmesan. So, if you’re looking for a healthier option for your pizza, Ricotta is a great choice.
Parmesan – The classic Italian cheese that complements any pizza
When it comes to Italian cheese, Parmesan is a classic choice. This hard, nutty cheese has a distinct flavor that complements any pizza. It’s especially delicious when grated over the top of a hot Neapolitan pizza, adding a salty, savory flavor to the cheese and toppings.
Not only is Parmesan a delicious addition to pizza, it’s also a versatile cheese that can be used in a variety of dishes. From pasta to salads, Parmesan adds a rich, umami flavor that enhances the overall taste of the dish. It’s also a great source of protein and calcium, making it a healthy choice for those looking to add more nutrients to their diet.
Pecorino Romano – A bold choice for those who love strong flavors
For those who love bold, strong flavors, Pecorino Romano is an excellent cheese choice for Neapolitan pizza. This hard cheese is made from sheep’s milk and has a salty, tangy flavor that can stand up to even the strongest pizza toppings. Pecorino Romano is best used sparingly, as too much can overpower the other flavors on your pizza.
Asiago Cheese – An alternative to mozzarella that can work well with certain toppings
If you’re looking to mix things up a bit, Asiago Cheese is an alternative to Mozzarella that can work well with certain toppings. This semi-hard cheese has a nutty flavor that pairs well with mushrooms, onions, and other earthy toppings. It’s also a bit firmer than Mozzarella, which means it won’t melt and spread quite as much in the oven.
Gorgonzola Cheese – Adding a bold, tangy flavor to your pizza
For a bold, tangy flavor, Gorgonzola Cheese is an excellent choice for Neapolitan pizza. This blue cheese has a distinct flavor that can stand up to even the strongest pizza toppings. It’s best used sparingly, as too much can overpower the other flavors on your pizza.
Vegan cheese options for Neapolitan Pizza lovers
For those who are vegan or lactose intolerant, there are a few cheese options for Neapolitan Pizza. Vegan Mozzarella cheese is available in most grocery stores and can be a great substitute for traditional Mozzarella. Other options include cashew cheese, tofu ricotta, and almond cheese.
How to choose the perfect cheese for your Neapolitan Pizza toppings
When choosing the perfect cheese for your Neapolitan pizza, it’s essential to consider the toppings. For example, if you’re using spicy toppings, a milder cheese like Mozzarella or Burrata will help balance out the heat. If you’re using strong, bold flavors like anchovies or olives, a stronger cheese like Pecorino Romano or Gorgonzola will be a better fit. Experiment with different cheeses and toppings until you find the perfect combination for your tastes.
The importance of high-quality cheese in making the perfect Neapolitan Pizza
One of the most important factors in making the perfect Neapolitan pizza is using high-quality ingredients. This includes the cheese. High-quality cheese will provide the best flavor and texture for your pizza. Look for cheese that is made from fresh, high-quality milk and is produced by reputable cheesemakers.
Tips for storing and handling cheese when making Neapolitan Pizza at home
When making Neapolitan pizza at home, it’s essential to store and handle your cheese properly. Cheese should be kept in the refrigerator until ready to use. Take your cheese out of the fridge about twenty minutes before using, allowing it to come to room temperature. This will make it easier to melt and spread over the pizza. When grating cheese, make sure to use a fine grater which will help the cheese melt evenly throughout the pizza.
Frequently asked questions about choosing the right cheese for your Neapolitan Pizza
Here are some commonly asked questions about choosing the right cheese for your Neapolitan Pizza:
Q: Can I use cheddar cheese on my Neapolitan pizza?
A: While cheddar cheese is a popular cheese choice for many types of pizza, it’s not recommended for Neapolitan pizza. It has a high fat content, which means it won’t melt as nicely as other cheeses. Stick with Mozzarella, Burrata, or other soft cheeses for Neapolitan pizza.
Q: Can I use pre-shredded cheese on my Neapolitan pizza?
A: While pre-shredded cheese may be convenient, it’s not recommended for Neapolitan pizza. Pre-shredded cheese contains added ingredients like cellulose powder and anti-caking agents that can prevent it from melting evenly. It’s best to grate your cheese fresh for the best texture and flavor.
Q: Can I use cheese that isn’t traditionally used on Neapolitan pizza?
A: While Mozzarella is the traditional cheese for Neapolitan pizza, there’s no rule that says you can’t get creative with your cheese choices. Feel free to experiment with different types of cheese and toppings until you find the perfect combination for your tastes.
With the information provided in this article, you now have everything you need to choose the perfect cheese for your Neapolitan pizza. Whether you prefer the traditional Mozzarella or want to get creative with your cheese choices, remember to choose high-quality cheese and experiment with different toppings until you find the perfect combination for your tastes. Happy pizza-making!