We all know the drill, right? It's impossible to make restaurant-quality Neapolitan pizza at home. In order to achieve a crust that's tender and pillowy inside with charring on the undercarriage and leopard-spotting along the rim, you need a wood-burning oven with a floor temperature of at least 700°F, and a dome temperature of at least 1,000°F. Anything lower than that, and the crust dries out too much before it takes on color. A home oven maxes out at around 550°F, so barring breaking your thermostat or engaging in other such high-maintenance, obsessives-only style hacks, you're stuck. Perfect Neapolitan pizza at home is a myth. It's a golden ring that can be strived for but never quite achieved.
So where does that leave the rest of us home cooks? The ones who want to throw together a quick, really good pizza that doesn't require jury-rigging the oven? Lucky for us, really-really-good-but-not-quite-authentic-Neapolitan-pizza is not an unattainable goal.
My criteria are as follows:
- The pizza must have a flavorful crust that is charred both top and bottom, crisp with an airy, chewy crumb, and a significant cornicione (the poofy lip around the edge).
- The sauce and cheese must follow Neapolitan guidelines: fresh buffalo mozzarella or fior di latte, and an uncooked sauce of canned tomatoes and salt.
- I must be able to cook the whole thing without the use of specialized equipment, and without modifying or breaking the warranty on any of my existing equipment.
- I must be able to cook the whole thing indoors.
With these criteria in mind, I set to work.