A Suffolk-based pizza restaurant’s dedication to its art could mean having to truly go the extra mile if there is a no-deal Brexit.
Oakfired at The Royal Oak, based in Beccles – a start-up business founded in August 2017 – has recently become only the third restaurant in the whole of the UK to have mastered the stringent ‘Decalogue’ created by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (AVPN). To attain the certification, co-owner Paul Jackson MIH, worked with skilled pizza chefs in Naples, becoming part of the workforce at the Capasso restaurant.
The business owners now face a Brexit-focused conundrum. In order to serve real Neapolitan pizza, the Decalogue stipulates that the ingredients must be sourced exclusively from Campania. The ingredients have to be San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo or fior di latte mozzarella from the milk of herds grazing on Campania’s land. Nothing else will suffice.
Whilst this is not an issue at the moment, Jackson and his busines partner Paul Williams MIH are already making contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit that makes obtaining these specific ingredients much harder. The tape measure is out, measuring available space in the car, whilst a consideration of how to keep the produce fresh and chilled being top-of-mind. Both are aware that hiring a refrigerated van may be necessary, with that, and the time and operational implications of having to travel to Italy to source the correct ingredients playing heavy on the mind.
“Having come so far and achieved the AVPN accreditation, we are not prepared to let this lapse,” says Paul Williams MIH. “However, as the days tick by, it is becoming ever-more important for us to have a contingency plan in place when it comes to buying the ingredients required by the Decalogue. We are praying a deal is struck that will not affect trade and that it will be business as usual after 29 March.”
The Oakfired at The Royal Oak is the only venue serving real Neapolitan pizza between London and Newcastle. Having already scooped an industry-leading award in 2017 – the Pizza and Pasta Association’s Gold Award for Best UK Independent Pizzeria – Paul Williams and Paul Jackson wish to add further trophies to their awards cabinet. They can only hope that the outcome of Brexit negotiations will be a favourable one for their business.
The ten steps to perfect Neapolitan pizza
- Pizza is an artisan product, so it should differ from pizzeria to pizzeria.
- The dough should only be made with water, salt, yeast and OO flour and most be proved for at least 8 hours.
- The dough must be stretched exclusively by hand, to move air out from the centre. This allows the edge to puff up, forming a crust when cooked.
- Ingredients should, wherever possible, be exclusively sourced from the province of Campania in Italy. Hand-crushed peeled tomatoes should look chunky, but not dense, whilst fresh tomatoes should be sliced. Buffalo mozzarella should be sliced, but fior di latte mozzarella (from cows) should be cut into strips. There should be uniformity when spreading these on the pizza. Any cheese that is used as a topping should be spread on the pizza by hand, using a circular and uniform motion. Fresh basil should only be a condiment and extra virgin olive oil should be spiralled on to the pizza when poured.
- The pizza should only be cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven (or in a gas oven approved by the AVPN which is rare but does include the Valoriani gas-fired Verace oven). No baking pans are allowed when cooking pizzas and the pizza should be cooked for between 60-90 seconds and no longer.
- The pizza must be capable of being folded (a libretto) and the crust should be 1-2 cm high, even when it comes to its size, and puffed up. It needs to bear a golden colour and have minimal burns or bubbles. If one side of the pizza is lifted, the base should be golden.
- The pizza needs to be round in shape and have a diameter of no more than 35cm. The maximum depth of the middle of the pizza should be 4mm. The red of the tomato should be the prominent feature in the middle and, if it is a Marinara pizza, blend with the green of the oregano and the white of the garlic. If it is a Margherita, the tomato should again be central and blend with the white of the mozzarella and the green of the basil leaves.
- The aroma of the pizza should also be controlled, smelling intensely of baked bread, plus other scents according to whether it is a Marinara or a Margherita. Tomatoes and mozzarella should produce a slightly acidic scent. In flavour terms, oil and garlic should produce a spicy and fruity flavour, whilst basil and oregano should have a grassy and fresh flavour.
- All of the flavours should work in harmony and balance out across the pizza as it is digested, producing savoury, sweet and spicy flavours with every bite.
- The calories in a pizza formed of a 250g dough ball should be around 550 Kcal for a Marinara pizza and 800 Kcal for a Margherita.
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Posted by Oakfired at Royal Oak on Tuesday, 20 November 2018