Since 1948, Pizzeria Napoletana has stood on the corner of Danté and De Gaspé streets in the heart of Montreal’s Little Italy, cranking out some 34 varieties of pizza, all on a super-thin dough that is neither cracker-crisp (I hate that), nor California-style soggy. It has just the right burnt crispness that comes from a wood-oven mated to the penultimate skill that comes from 62 years of “cycles of learning” as the Total Quality guys used to call what laymen called “experience”.
Today we took my daughter grocery shopping at the Jean-Talon farmer’s market; a dismal failure BTW, as it was impossible to find any parking during this the peak of the harvest and canning seasons. We wanted to get our 4 crates of Italian tomatoes and boxes of basil for the pesto, but with no success. We opted for a late lunch at Pizzeria Napoletana. As good as ever I might add.
It couldn’t have been easy. In the 60’s and 70’s Neapolitan-style pizza was the domain of expatriate Italians looking for a taste of home. The pizza that dominated among the masses was the Greco-Roman variety: A medium-thick crust topped with about an inch of goodies; the trademark of the emerging Greek dominance of the Montreal restaurant scene and their focus on value-for-money.
With the emergence of good taste that came from a whole generation instilled with wander-lust and the search for authentic cross-cultural experience beginning with the mid-seventies, the thin-crusted Neapolitan pizza finally came into its own among the better educated and more affluent. Don’t get me wrong, the Greco-Roman piza probably still holds a solid 50% share, consistent with its value-for-money positioning.
Anyway, for as long as I can remember in the mid-70’s there have been lineups at the door, regardless of time of day.
Margherita: mozzarella, sauce tomate, oregano
Rustica: mozzarella, tomates tranchées, bocconcini, pancetta
Latina: mozzarella, sauce tomate, chouriço, oignons, piments verts, jalapeños