A16's Rocky Maselli talks pizza

Pizza. It can be anything you want it to be. It can be filled with toppings or left bare. It can round or square, thick or thin. It can be baked  or grilled, vegetarian or meaty. In essence, it’s one of the most versatile foods you can make — and everybody likes it done their own way.

For A16 Chef Rocky Maselli, pizza is a form of art that centers around the principle of simplicity. A certified pizzaiolo, Maselli practices the Neapolitan way of making pizza at the restaurant, which is one of a few hundred establishments around the world that is certified by an official association out of Naples to make this particular style of savory pie.

This style uses nothing more than flour, water, yeast, salt and a little oil in the dough, which is allowed to proof and later dressed with minimal, fresh toppings. It includes a technique that involves working quickly, using as little flour as possible and hand stretching the pizza low on a work surface. The result is a soft, subtle pizza with slightly doughy edges and a nice crispiness throughout.

The restaurant must be certified every year by the association to ensure that it’s staying true to tradition. But that’s not a concern, since both Maselli and one of his sous chefs (who admittedly followed a beautiful girl to Italy) took a one-week course in Naples to earn an official pizza-maker badge.

Maselli said that A16, which is named after the highway that runs from Naples to the opposite coast, chose to do Neapolitan-style pizza because — depending on whom you ask, of course — Naples was the birthplace of pizza. For Maselli, it’s also a, “high-quality artisan product that cooks fast and tastes great,” he says.

Get the recipe for how to make the dough here.