The Italians know how to do pizza, and nowhere more so than Naples, where the art of pizza-making has received world heritage status from UNESCO.
A traditional Neapolitan pizza is roundish, with a diameter of 30-35cm, soft and elastic with a raised edge (the famous “cornicione”). The dough is made using 00 flour and leavened twice. The base must be prepared by hand and garnished with ingredients from the Campania region. Cooking must be done in a wood-fired oven at 430-480°C and takes just 60-90 seconds.
We all love a proper pizza, of course. But have you ever tried fried pizza? The deliciously light, crisp pizza fritta has acquired cult-like status in its native Naples, and it’s easy to make at home with no need for a specialist pizza oven: just seal your chosen toppings between pizza dough, and deep-fry until crisp. It’s quick and easy – you just need to make your dough in advance, at least the day before, so it can rest in the fridge.
If you fancy trying it yourself, there’s no better teacher to guide us through the process than Naples native Maurizio Cecco, owner and head chef of Salvi’s, with restaurants in the Corn Exchange, on John Dalton Street and now in the NQ.
“This is a typical Neapolitan dish which is served as street food throughout the side streets of Naples,” says Maurizio, who enjoys making the dish with his daughter Sienna. “It’s on all of our menus at Salvi’s, plus we have a street food stall at Manchester’s Festa Italiana strictly for pizza fritta!”.
- 200g 00 flour
- 3g fresh yeast
- 6g salt
- 120ml water
Filling of your choice – Maurizio uses:
- Tomato sauce – Maurizio’s sauce mixes Italian tomato passata (sieved tomatoes, available in cans), fresh basil, olive oil and salt
- Fresh basil
- Oil for frying
Tomato sauce to serve with the pizza fritta:
- Olive oil
- Fresh basil
- See the video for a full step-by-step guide.
- Add the flour to a large mixing bowl, and whisk in 6g salt. In a small bowl or jug, add 3g of yeast to room temperature water and stir to combine. Add the yeast mixture to the flour bowl, and mix to a dough using your hands.
- Tip the dough ball onto a floured surface and knead it for around 10 mins. Put the dough in a bowl, and dust with flour so it doesn’t stick. Cover the bowl with cling film, and leave it in the fridge for between 24-72 hours.
- After 24-72 hours, take your dough from the fridge and place on a floured surface. It should be soft and fluffy now. Use your hands to gently press it into a round.
- Pre-heat a large pan of vegetable oil to around 240 degrees on the hob.
- Add your fillings to one side of the dough – Maurizio uses sliced fresh mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, tomato and basil, but you can add your favourites. Add the cheeses first, then spoon the tomato sauce on top.
- Fold the dough in half over the filling, so it looks like a giant Cornish pasty. Make sure the edges are well sealed.
- Add the pizza to the hot oil and fry until crisp, turning halfway.
- To make a tomato sauce to top the pizza fritta with, heat some olive oil in a frying pan, add a couple of cloves of roughly chopped garlic, and then a couple of large spoons of passata – or use the sauce you used to fill the pizza.
- Gently lift the pizza fritta out of the oil, and serve topped with tomato sauce, fresh basil leaves, a sprinkle of Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.