You Will Have To Travel For The World’s Best Pizza, But Not To Where You Think
The pizzaiolo awarded with making the best margherita pizza in the world is named Johnny Di Francesco. His pizza shop isn’t located on the sunny shores of Naples, but rather, just north of Melbourne, on the southern tip of Australia. Di Francesco is the owner of 400 Gradi in Brunswick, Australia. The pizzaiolo recently travelled to Naples to compete in the Campionato Mondiale della Pizza (Pizza World Championship) where he competed against pizza makers from around the world for the title. Of the more than 600 entrants from around the world, Di Francesco won the specialita tradizionale garantita (STG) for his margherita pizza, marking his work as the premiere instantiation of the European standards.
The classic pizza
The margherita pizza is often regarded as the original variation of the food. It is limited to very specific ingredients such as basil, mozzarella, flour, garlic, peeled tomatoes, and salt. The rules for making a pizza that qualifies as STG are similar to those that verify wine types. The ingredients and processes are monitored to ensure a consistent, high-quality product.
The Australian champion
Di Francesco learned how to make pizza from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, an organization based in Naples that have become the international arbiters for what can be rightly called true pizza. He now serves as the Austral-asian principal of the group, becoming Australia’s de facto pizza ambassador. As such, he routinely tours the country, training aspiring pizzaiolos in the methods and standards of making authentic pizza. Di Francesco is no stranger to awards, having won third place at the Las Vegas International Pizza Expo.
The ultimate Italian dish
Few foods are more closely associated with Italy than pizza. The baked dough topped with tomato sauce and cheese has been exported to almost every country in the world where it has assumed the local flavors and cooking traditions to reflect its adopted country. Legend has it that pizza was first developed in Naples during Italy’s unification in 1861 as an edible expression of the national flag. The sauce, mozzarella and basil represented the red, white and green of the flag and happened to be wildly delicious. Traditionally, Italian pizza is a sized to be a single serving, similar to what we would call a “personal pan” pizza in the U.S. As the rumored birthplace of the unofficial national dish, Naples has the reputation of producing the best pizza in the country, a fact of which the local residents are very proud.