The issue of the tomato on pizza is relatively old and new, depending on which point of view we take to look at the matter. The tomato, in its different varieties, is one of the best gifts that could ever happen to us, directly from the American continent.
Pizza – or its distant relatives – was at the beginning meant without this fruit that adds hints of strong acidity and balances back the dish with its abundant toppings.
Nowadays, the concept of pizza is strictly connected with the tomato.
Indeed, in the last twenty years of the so called “white art” the importance of tomatoes was more and more prominent, thus allowing different varieties of cultivations to be back again: it’s the case of the Fiascone, or also the San Marzano PDO, for example.
To try and give an answer about the best tomato variety to use on pizza, we asked one of the masters of Neapolitan pizza making, the first to create order in the debate: we are talking about Gugliemo Vuolo (Guglielmo Vuolo Verona, Guglielmo Vuolo Florence, Pizzeria 4A in Naples), the first pizzaiolo that stressed the importance of the red fruit and its link with the dough. The result of his studies has been published on the Carta dei Pomodori (The tomato sheet), created in collaboration with the journalist Monica Piscitelli.
Let’s start with the Marinara pizza: which one is the best tomato? According to Gugliemo, it’s a tricky matter. The marinara pizza, in fact, needs a well thought cooking of both the dough and the tomato, due to its basic toppings. The mastery of this craft tells us a lot about the skills of a pizza maker.
Therefore, surprise suprise, there’s no such a thing like the best tomato for the marinara pizza: there are instead several great varieties which, combined with the right kind of dough and a good baking, give us spectacular results.
Even the texture of a tomato plays an important role: there are tomatoes which are more fibrous, others containing a larger quantity of water, others with thicker peels.
As we mentioned before, the Marinara is a pizza based on few toppings: this is exactly the reason why they need to be of high quality and meet the consumer’s taste.
The role of the pizzaiolo is, therefore, one of researcher, moderator and executor among these three factors.
A great variety of tomatoes for a Marinara pizza are the so called Piennolo del Vesuvio PDO (grape tomatoes): highly saline, of volcanic origins, with a thick peel, their best performance is obtained slicing them in stripes (“a pacchetelle”), along with fresh anchovies which enhance the acridity and a good extravirgin olive oil.
Another good variety is the pomodorino Corbarino, grown on soils rich in pumice from the Lattari mountains.
Not to be disliked is a Marinara with the San Marzano tomato, though the matter of the baking is a hard one: the San Marzano variety is rich in water, and with some types of dough its taste might not fully “burst”.
An option to consider for a good marinara pizza is to garnish it with a blend of tomatoes (which is a staple of Vuolo’s pizza making): in this way we can bring a variety of sensory features that create a balance.
Finally, it’s always the palate of a customer the best “judge” for a tomato: therefore, the matter is far from being closed.
Translated by Giuseppe A. D’Angelo