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Italy sets strict pizza guidelines
Updated: 2004-05-28 09:10

Pizza-makers beware: Italy has issued strict guidelines to protect the real Neapolitan pizza from bogus copies.

Pizza-maker Gennaro Bruno prepares pizzas in a restaurant in Naples, Italy.
The regulations touch on everything from size to ingredients to the type of oven -- and rule-abiding restaurants will receive a special label attesting that real pizza can be eaten there.

The rules, issued by the Agriculture Ministry, are part of Italy's efforts to protect its cuisine across the European Union, although it was not immediately clear what steps would be taken for enforcement.

The guidelines, eight articles printed Tuesday in the country's Official Gazette, rule that real Neapolitan pizza must be round, no more than 35 centimeters (14 inches) in diameter, no thicker than 0.3 centimeters (0.1 inches) in the middle and with a crust of about 2 centimeters (0.8 inches).

"The texture must be soft, elastic, easily foldable," the guidelines say.

The norms also specify what kind of flour, yeast, tomatoes and oil must be used.

They recognize only three types of real Neapolitan pizza: Marinara, with garlic and oregano; Margherita, with basil and mozzarella cheese from the southern Apennines; and extra-Margherita, with fresh tomatoes, basil and buffalo mozzarella from Campania, the region that includes pizza's hometown, Naples.

The dough must be rolled out manually and baked in wood-burning ovens that can reach the required temperature of 485 Celsius (905 Fahrenheit).

The regulations were approved after surveying pizza-makers in Naples and surrounding areas. Restaurants that abide by the rules will get a label saying their pizza is a "guaranteed traditional specialty."

"These norms protect one of the most ancient and most important gastronomic traditions," said Antonio Pace, owner of one of Naples' oldest pizza restaurants and the president of a pizza-makers' association.

"We don't want the others not to make pizza, only we want them to make it as we make it -- as it should be done," he said Wednesday.

The ANSA news agency estimated that of 23,000 pizza restaurants in Italy -- which make 56 million pizzas each week -- about 200 would seek the certification immediately.

But Pace said he expects the vast majority of restaurants will adhere to the rules to get the label.

Financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore, which like many other Italian newspapers devoted a front-page story Wednesday to the pizza rules, described the move as "an act of love, but a desperate one."

"Pizza is now a stateless, boundless, flag-less food," it said.

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