Years ago, I fell in love with Neapolitan-style pizza. I loved its light, airy, char-speckled crust. It was a revelation to me. But really, that revelation was due to never experiencing great pizza and growing up in an area where mediocre pizza was the norm. As time has worn on, and I’ve eaten dozens of styles of pizza all over the country, in literally hundreds of pizzerias, I’ve cooled on Neapolitan style a bit
I am a big fan of a neo-Neapolitan style. Still light and airy, but not as thin and soupy as Neapolitan and with some crunch, too.
I’ve been working on perfecting a neo-Neapolitan style and have come close to my ideal. These pizzas have a light, and tender/chewy crust with a little crispness.
This dough is 64% hydration. It’s a mix of 60% Caputo Pizzeria, and 40% Caputo Chef’s flours. 24-hour fermentation. Cooked at 800F for two and half minutes.
I used Roma Sausage—Utica’s most famous tomato pie—as my template when I set out to make a facsimile. In my opinion, what makes Roma’s pies so special is the sauce. The sauce is laid down in a thick layer, and one gets lots of that deliciousness in each bite. The sauce is simple and tomato forward. Its balance of salt and sweetness is nearly perfect.
Utica tomato pie is working-class fare. It’s supposed to be cheap eats. This is not gentrified fare we’re creating. I used inexpensive crushed tomatoes.
I added nothing to the tomatoes except some tomato paste for body, salt, and a little sugar to get the salty/sweet balance just right. I cooked it just long enough to thicken it up a bit.
I didn’t want the sauce to cook in the oven. I wanted a light, bright sauce, not one that’s concentrated and cooked down like an Italian gravy. The pizza will spend a reasonable amount of time in the oven, and the sauce will further cook during that time. When I baked the pie, I put only a very thin layer of sauce to prevent the crust from browning. I added most of the sauce post-bake.
I was delighted with the result. The eating experience and flavor profile were very similar to Roma’s.
My tomato pie is on the left. On the right is Roma’s tomato pie.