It might be copied worldwide but there is only one true Neapolitan pizza.
Italy has drawn up a series of rules that must be met for a Neapolitan pizza to be worthy of the name.
The regulations are designed to protect and promote the original, traditional Neapolitan pizza.
The proposed new law includes a step-by-step guide to the perfect pizza.
It covers pizza shape, depth, toppings and even the way olive oil must be poured on top.
"Pizza-making is an art, you need passion to make pizza," Massimo Di Porzio, managing director of verace pizza napoletana association told BBC News Online.
"It's all in the dough and the rolling technique which has developed over hundreds of years," he added.
Labour of love
The pizza dough, "which should be soft, elastic and not sticky" must be left to rest for at least six hours, the regulations specify.
The dough must be kneaded, shaped and coaxed into a perfectly round disc by hand.
"Rolling pins or other mechanical instruments are not permitted," the rules admonish.
Drawn up by the Agriculture Ministry and professional Neapolitan pizza-makers, the guidelines were printed in the European Union Gazzetta Ufficiale, a publication normally reserved for financial and legal notices.
But in Italy this is serious stuff: the proposed law says the pizza must be no more than 35 cm in diameter and no thicker than a third of a centimetre at its centre, rising to 2cm at the crust.
Preserving pizza purity.
The eight articles and six sub-clauses will form the bible for pizza-makers in Naples - where Italy claims the pizza was born more than 300 years ago - and beyond.
Must be round and no more than 35cm in diameter
Must be cooked in a wood fired oven
Must be kneaded and shaped by hand
Dough should be allowed to rise for at least six hours
Only three types of Neapolitan pizza exist, they say.
The first is Marinara with garlic and oregano.
The second, a Margherita, must be made with basil, tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese from the southern Apennine mountains.
Finally the "Extra Margherita" variety must include buffalo mozzarella from the Campania region.
A true Neapolitan pizza must be cooked in a wood-fired oven and the final product must be soft, elastic and easy to fold in two, the guidelines say.
Whitin six mounths the law will be approved, pizzas that make the grade will allowed to sport a prestigious STG or Guaranteed Traditional Speciality label.
"The STG Neapolitan pizza is characterised by its raised, golden crust, soft to the touch and to the lips with the red of the tomato visible through the white spots of the mozzarella," the draft law says.
And pizza police might not be too far on the horizon, as pizza professionals will be carrying out checks at all stages in the process.
Saturday 16 February 2008