Author - by IFC Culinary Editor, Date:

A match made in heaven

Biting into a thin slice of pizza can be a sublime experience. The sweet tang of tomato. The creamy, stretchy mozzarella. The combination of cheese and tomatoes on flatbread has been an Italian tradition since tomatoes were introduced to the region in the 16th century.

The classic Neapolitan pizza consists of fresh mozzarella and perfectly ripe tomatoes on thin dough made with love. But did you know that the authentic Pizza Napoletana is crafted with specific types of mozzarella and tomatoes? The Italian Standardization Body, with the guidance of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, defines precisely what it takes to make it.

Let’s look at one of the most delicious combos to grace the table—mozzarella and tomatoes—and find out what it takes to make a classic Italian pizza.

Forget the shredded cheese

Mozzarella making is an Italian

You know those bags of pre-shredded cheese you can get from the grocery store? Ciao Ciao! True Neapolitan pizza uses fresh, Italian mozzarella.

Mozzarella dates back to the 12th century and is derived from the Italian word mozzare, which means “to cut up.”  This refers to how mozzarella is made, which involves cutting cheese curds by hand. Mozzarella curds are then stretched and shaped by hand and formed into balls. The cheese is then sometimes smoked.

A look at some of the types of mozzarella that are perfect for traditional Neapolitan pizza

Mozzarella di bufala

Mozzarella di bufala, or buffalo mozzarella, is a specialty mozzarella from Southern Italy and is one of the classic variants of mozzarella for pizza making. The cheese comes from the Mediterranean water buffalo native to the region. Buffalo mozzarella is only considered genuine if it comes from the regions of Campania, Lazio, Apulia, and Molise and has Protected Designation of Origin status.

For centuries, buffalo milk was cheaper than cow’s milk, making it the preferred milk for cheesemaking. Around the 18th century, some estates began to raise larger herds of buffalos specifically for producing cheese.

The water buffalo population was decimated in World War II, leading to a reliance on cow’s milk, but more water buffalo were brought in from India after the war to revive the herds

Fior di latte

Fior di latte refers to cow’s milk mozzarella, which is more widely available than buffalo mozzarella. This style of mozzarella has a slightly drier texture than buffalo mozzarella but still has the classic elasticity of fresh mozzarella. When fior di latte comes from the Italian town of Agerola, it is considered one of the authentic components of Neapolitan pizza.


If you haven’t had the opportunity to try burrata, you’re missing out on a unique artisanal treat. It is a relatively new creation (early 1900s) made from mozzarella and cream. Burrata, like traditional mozzarella, is stretched and shaped into a ball, but the ball of mozzarella is filled with mozzarella scraps and cream. The texture is elastic on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. Can you almost taste it?

Is there a perfect tomato? Italians say yes.

Only the freshest imported Italian mozzarella is used on classic Neapolitan pizzas

Historians debate over who exactly brought tomatoes to Europe, but we do know that it happened around the 16th century. The plant thrives in the Mediterranean region and has become a quintessential component to Italian cuisine. Around the 1700s, tomatoes became a topping for flatbreads in Naples, and the Neapolitan pizza tradition was born. Two types of tomatoes are considered the authentic varieties for pizza.

 The San Marzano tomato

The San Marzano tomato is a type of plum tomato that was first grown in Italy near Naples (around Mount Vesuvius). This heirloom tomato variety is prized for being sweet and having a distinctive strong flavor. The tomato is less acidic than other varieties and is one of the parent plants of the Roma variety that is common in America.

Pomodorino Vesuviano

The pomodorino vesuviano is grown only in the Mount Vesuvius area, which has fortified volcanic soil. This grape tomato variety is very sweet and is sometimes sun-dried, which enhances the flavor.

A culinary love affair with authentic Neapolitan pizza

If you want the real deal authentic Neapolitan pizza, you must have fresh mozzarella and fresh tomatoes. It is a flavor combination like no other and taking a bite of pizza Napoletana means falling in love with pizza all over again. Is your mouth watering yet?

Italian Food Company (IFC)

The Italian Food Company Shop features imported Italian Food Bundles and Traditional Italian Sweets online all curated to offer unique collections of make-at-home classic Italian meals and decadent Italian sweets. Importers of fine Italian handcrafts, the shop features gorgeous collectible hand painted Italian ceramics and lava tables crafted from hardened lava from Italy’s Mt Etna.

Tucked in the famous Florida Keys, Italian Food Company Restaurant offers authentic regional southern Italian and Neapolitan rustic cuisine including authentic Neapolitan Pizza.

Italian Food Company Shop

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