We opened our first pizzeria in 2004 in the burgeoning Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. Months before we opened curious onlookers poked their heads in the former auto body shop, and outlandish rumors spread quickly throughout Seattle. One person saw a team of masons reportedly flown in from Naples to build a gargantuan wood-fired oven, someone heard that the bricks also came from Naples rich with Vesuvian ash, a reporter ran a story about a taxi driver leading our owner down a dark Neapolitan street to meet a talented pizzaiolo who was then whisked to an airport…
As it turns out almost all of the tall tales are true – on opening night people began lining up for the authentic Neapolitan pizza and since then our ovens have only gotten busier. Via Tribunali has been called “more authentic than the pizzerias of Naples,” and even though that is a flattering exaggeration, it is fair to say that our pizzerias have grown out of an almost unnatural passion for the food and wine of Southern Italy.
WOOD-BURNING VESUVIUS BRICK OVEN
A pizza cannot be called Neapolitan without spending 60-90 seconds in anything less than a wood-fire brick oven. Unlike conventional ovens, an authentic wood-fire brick oven can achieve the desired 450° C temperature to create the ideal cooking environment necessary for the perfect pizza crust.
Via Tribunali is unique in that it features an authentic handmade wood-burning brick oven. Everything used in the construction of the oven was imported from Naples, including the bricks made from the ashes of Mt. Vesuvius and the master craftsman who assembled it. In Italy, brick ovens are considered an art, no different than fashion in Milan or glass in Venice. Using Vesuvius bricks allows the wood-burning oven at Via Tribunali to achieve higher temperatures than those made from regular bricks. Understandably, the oven’s unique characteristics and aesthetics have made it an icon at Via Tribunali.
Neapolitan pizza embodies the essence of what authentic Italian pizza should be; soft, well-cooked, fragrant and enclosed in a high, soft edge of crust. As a member of the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, Via Tribunali respects the culinary discipline associated with making authentic Neapolitan pizza. Specific preparation, ingredients, and method of cooking are essential to recreating the tradition of pizza as it began in Naples. Hand-kneaded dough, ingredients imported from Naples, and a wood-burning Vesuvius brick oven lend to the unique characteristics of Via Tribunali’s pizza.
Neapolitan pizza is steeped in traditions dating back to 1730 when the first Marinara pizza (tomato, olive oil and oregano) was made. The Margherita pizza (tomato, olive oil, mozzarella, and basil) was introduced in honor of Queen Margherita di Savoia’s visit to Naples in the early 1800s. From this point on, trattorie, or what would later be called pizzerie, became popular among “i Napoletani” (the people). By the late 1800s, Neapolitan pizza spread throughout the world as a result of immigrants and trade influences.