As you’ve probably noticed by now, I rarely write about Neapolitan Pizza, Pizza Napoletana. It’s not because I don’t like it. I do. It’s just that I’m not an obsessed fan who spends my days seeking out the best pizzeria, the best pizza, the best pizzaiolo in town. Sacrilege, I know.

Besides, there are already a ton of books, blogs, and YouTube videos dedicated to this international delight. And who could forget last year’s Eat, Pray, Love that propelled Da Michele’s to international fame. What more could this the un-obsessed fan possibly add?

And I guess that’s the point. Neapolitan Pizza is universal icon, the symbol of the city. An honor to be sure, but there is a fine line between an icon and a stereotype. And once you’ve lived here for a while you want people to know there is more to Napoli than pizza and the other typical Neapolitan stereotypes, positive and negative.

Putting that aside however, Pizza Napoletana is the pride of this city and a national treasure. And it is certainly one of the many things that make this city great. An international phenomenon, it lures people here from all over the world like the city’s namesake Partenope. Obsessed fans in search of the perfect pie. Would be pizzaioli seeking their own Neapolitan Obi-Wan Kenobi.

An art, a science and a tradition, Pizza Napoletana is an intangible, invaluable and indelible part of the Neapolitan culture. It is so important in fact that after years of lobbying, Pizza Napoletana won the coveted EU Trademark Status, the Traditional Specialty Guaranteed Label in February 2010. Next up, it just may find its way onto UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

So perhaps it’s time to put my concerns about stereotypes aside and give Pizza Napoletana its due. And what better event to start with? The first annual Napoli Pizza Village Expo organized by l’APN, the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani. Presented by Naples new Mayor, Luigi De Magistris, it was held at Naples Mostra d’Oltremare 7 – 11 September 2011.

Five days dedicated to the art and the craft of the Pizza Napoletana and the pizzerias and the craftsmen, the pizzaioli who make it world-famous.

Twenty of Naples most renowned pizzerias were on hand including Sorbillo, Di Matteo, I Decumani, and my personal favorite, Starita. Not in attendance, Da Michele of Eat, Pray, Love fame.

Like well oiled machines, the pizzaioli pumped out thousands of Pizza Napoletana for the crowds of people who piled in to sample their pies.

On the menu – Pizza Margherita, Pizza Marinara, and the specialty of the house. So many pizzas, so little room.

After two pies, one from I Decumani and the other from  Sorbillo, for me, the party was over. The winner? It was a very close race. The crust was a tie and I Decumani’s pie definitely had more cheese, a plus in my book. But Sorbillo’s sauce was to die for.

Of course whether or not it would have beat out my favorite Pizzeria Starita, I don’t know. But the crowds that were lined up for one of their pies suggest it would have. If only I had room (and the patience to stand in that long line) for one more.

Napoli Pizza Village – Now That’s Amore!

I can’t wait to see what’s in store next year.