In Clermont-Ferrand, pizza makers are inspired by the traditional Neapolitan recipe: they share their secrets with us

A nice crust, a good tomato base, a light dough and good products. It’s time for the Neapolitan in Clermont-Ferrand. Now, a handful of pizzerias make it their religion. They opened the doors of their kitchen to us… And of their oven.

Newly installed in Clermont-Ferrand, Antoine is certainly the greatest purist of this century-old Italian tradition. At Dadino, not far from the courthouse, the Berrichon has made it its selling point. And to get there, he claims to make “10 to 15% less margins than others, to have quality products”.

Flour, salt, yeast and water

“I take Italian tomatoes, San Marzano, and mozzarella, I only take Fior di latte, it concentrates less water and is made from cow’s milk”, explains the pizza maker.

At Homiz, rue de la Boucherie, Rémi is very clear about the contents of a Neapolitan dough: “Flour, salt, yeast and water. ” And nothing else. So no oil.
Neapolitan pizza dough is above all “very hydrated and with little yeast,” adds Antoine, the purist at Dadino. Which makes it more digestible. »

At Dadino, Antoine is in the purest tradition. Photo Hervé Chelle.

The counterpart – which explains why many have not yet started – is that it requires more work than a classic Roman dough. “A paste is alive, you have to be vigilant, particularly with regard to ambient temperatures, humidity…”, he specifies. “If you’re not a good pizza maker, you can’t make Neapolitan pizza,” says Tarek, who officiates at the historic Cantinetta, rue Rameau.

For him, the choice of flour is crucial. If all the pizza makers I met import this precious ingredient from Italian mills, at La Cantinetta, Tarek, twenty years of experience in the field and particularly in Italy with the best, swears only by Caputo flour. “It’s the most expensive… And the best. It’s the best,” he says.

At home, his dough rests for up to 36 hours. And the longer a dough rests, the harder it is to work with. This is also the price of excellence: patience.

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In terms of cooking, there are some differences. At La Catinetta, for a cooking time of about “80 seconds”, the oven can go up between 380 and 400 degrees. At Dadino, we speak of “very high temperature”, of “420 to 450 degrees”.

Know how to stand out while keeping the spirit?

If all have a Neapolitan philosophy, each of these pizza artists wants to stand out.

At the Donna Maria, in St. Peter’s Square, Tristan prefers to speak of “contemporary Neapolitan” and “Neapolitan inspiration”. His thing, for example, is to dress after cooking, “to keep the food as it is”. “A Parma ham, I don’t want to damage it during cooking,” he explains.

The Maria. Chez la Donna Maria, in Saint Peter’s Square, at Clermont-Ferrand, the signature pizza is the Maria, made with truffled ham, truffle oil and buffala. Photo Fred Marquet

A very special know-how that can be found specifically in the house’s flagship product: the Maria. A pure delight for the taste buds which consists in particular of truffled ham, buffala and truffle oil…

At Homiz, which mainly relies on take-out and delivery pizza, the inspiration is certainly Neapolitan, but Rémi hydrates his dough less than others, to have an “easy” street pizza to eat. He is looking for “a taste and visual signature”. Her influences are also Italian-American and New York. “That’s what makes me fantasize,” he says. And this is found for example in the “Die Hard”, a pepperoni-based pizza, “not industrial” (understand industrial) of course. But also with the typically New York spicy honey. Not to mention the condiments he has on the table, such as chilly flakes.

Die Hard. On rue de la Boucherie, Homiz makes a New York-style pizza. Die Hard is with pepperoni!
Photo Thierry Lindauer

Yes, even purists allow themselves some deviations. Antoine, from Dadino, confesses to having cream-based pizzas. Sacrilege! “But in France, and specifically in Auvergne…”, he could not do otherwise.

Isn’t that also what makes Neapolitan? Appropriate it… To better detach yourself from it. “La Napolitaine is a style, visual codes, but you have to put the means that go with it”, concludes Rémi.

Erwan Rousseau
Video: Stephanie Delannes

In numbers

2
According to the latest figures released in 2019, France is the second pizza consumer country behind the United States, but ahead of Italy.
10
Each French person consumes 10 kilos of pizza every year.
1
In 2019, one billion pizzas were sold in France.
6
The market represents 6 billion euros per year.

(Source: Gira Consulting)

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