SLICE OF SOTTO {Does pizza belong to humankind (or only to Neapolitans)? }


Last week, when I read about a new petition in Italy to make pizza a UNESCO-protected dish, (click here for the story in Food & Wine), I couldn't help but think of this frozen pizza that I saw last month in a super market in Italy. I was in the country to teach at the University of Gastronomic Sciences (the Slow Food university) in Piedmont but I stopped in Franciacorta in Lombardy on my way to campus to visit one of my best friends. He and I went grocery shopping on a Saturday evening at his local mall. When we walked past the bin filled with "pizza American style," I had to laugh and I had to stop and take a picture.

"It's actually pretty good," said my friend Giovanni, who's traveled a lot in the U.S. and knows what America pizza tastes like. Evidently he's tried it.

When you consider that there are literally hundreds of "authentic Neapolitan pizza" scattered across the U.S. and not just in the major markets like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, it seems only fair that the Italians should be able to copy our style of pizza (albeit frozen pizza!) just as we are able to borrow their style.

One of the things I'm most proud about when it comes to my work with Sotto as its wine director is how good and how authentic the pizza we make is. Time and time again, winemakers and friends from Italy tell me how much they enjoy the pizza at Sotto. Even some of my friends and colleagues from Naples!

Some of the "Neapolitan" pizza made in the U.S. may be more authentic than others. But all things considered, we make some pretty damned-good pizza here at Sotto and across America.

Have we stolen this style of pizza from Naples and the Neapolitans? I believe that we have. But in doing so, we've also celebrated the greatness of Neapolitan traditional foodways. Have we corrupted this supreme dish? At Sotto, we stick closely to the traditional preparation, including the right ingredients and the correct techniques.

Not every "Neapolitan" pizzeria in America is as diligent as we are. But the bottom line is that pizza — whether Neapolitan or American, like the one above — is a dish that brings nearly all citizens of the world together. And that can only be a good thing in my view.

Thanks for all your support in 2017 here at Sotto! We have exciting things planned for our wine program in 2018. Stay tuned and have a great holiday season!

Jeremy Parzen

wine director