Pizzaiolo: What is it and How to Become the Best

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Pizzaiolo

So, you love pizza?

Do you love it so much that you plan to dedicate your life to it? Your wish is to become a true artisan, and nothing else will do.

Becoming a pizza chef will get you a job almost anywhere, but it takes time to become a proper master.

Pizzaiolos are masters of pizza. There are very few who are more skilled than they are, and their trade is equal parts cooking, science, and art.

Are you interested in becoming one? Let’s see what they are, what makes them unique, and how you can become a pizzaiolo.

Pro Tip


When making pizza, don’t bake a dough mixture that’s too cold, the dough should be at room temperature before going into the oven.

What Do You Call a Person Who Loves Pizza?

Michael Angelo

Michelangelo! 

No, wait – that’s a turtle that loves pizza.

Then how about a pizza nerd, a pizza freak, or the Grand Duke of Pizzaland? Maybe a pizzaphile, though that one may earn you a visit from the FBI.

In any case, all those titles can belong to any average Joe that’s very passionate about pizza.

However, there are special breeds of animals that decide to dedicate their lives to making it.

Amongst them are pizzaiolos, a very special species of dough slingers.

Ok, let’s get back on track!


What Is a Pizzaiolo?

Pizzaiolo essentially translates to a pizza maker. It comes from the Italian word “pizza” for “delicious awesomeness” and suffix “-aiolo” that denotes one’s occupation.

What is a Pizzaiola?

Pizzaiola is all that but for girls and with a bow and eyelashes.

The term originates from Napoli, and it applies to a person who makes and or sells pizzas. Outside of Italy, most pizza chefs call themselves… ahm, pizza chefs.

pizzaiolo

The Italian term “Pizzaiolo” is usually reserved for those who make the True Neapolitan Pizza.

What is a True Neapolitan Pizza

According to the rules proposed by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the genuine Neapolitan pizza dough or Pizza Napoletana consists of the following:

  • Wheat flour (Type 0 or Type 00, or a mixture of both)
  • Natural Neapolitan Yeast or brewer’s Yeast (Beer Yeast)
  • Salt
  • Water

There are some characteristics that are unique about the True Neapolitan Pizza for example:

  • Leopard Crust  – this crust can only be obtained in an oven that is higher than 800F.
  • Bready Crust – the crust must have a hole-structure on the inside.
  • Sauce – Made with real San Marzano tomatoes and not much of it.
  • Distinctive cheese – these pizzas are made with Mozzarella DiBuffala.
  • Size – these are not big pizzas

Pizza Napoletana Rules:

  • You must use strong flour with a high protein content
  • The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer.
  • After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other machines.
  • May not be more than 3 millimeters (0.12 in) thick.
  • You must bake the pizza for 60–90 seconds in a 905 °F wood fire oven.
  • When cooked, it should be soft, elastic, and fragrant.



Try Our Classic Neapolitan Pizza Recipe


The Best Homemade Neapolitan Pizza Recipe

This Neapolitan Pizza base recipe can be easily adapted to any other pizza style. It has only four ingredients and it only takes 20 min. of hands-on time.

Pizza Pun


“Waiter, will my pizza be long?”

“No sir, it will be round!”

Can a Home Pizza Baker Be Called a Pizzaiolo?

Of course, don’t share it with anyone online – they’ll eat you alive.

Technically, there is more protection for the term when it comes to its industrial applications. As in, if you’re looking for a job in a pizzeria and claim that you are a pizzaiolo, you better bring your papers with you.

But you can feel free to be an amateur enthusiast in the privacy of your home. Nothing stops you from seeking perfection in pizza making. It just means that you’re feeding people around you for free instead of charging them an arm and a leg for a good slice. Although, you could do that.

Are You Still Baking Pizzas in Your Kitchen Oven?
You Might Regret It. Don’t Miss Out!

Are you up for trying something new?

Go from a soggy pizza to the perfect pizza! How? With an Ooni pizza oven.

You might be thinking, a what?

With an Ooni pizza oven, you can bake your pizza in as little as 90 seconds.

They are not only affordable, but you can take them anywhere. 

Let’s check them out; you won’t be disappointed!

Do You Have What It Takes to Become a Pizzaiolo?

Certainly!, the only thing you need is will and perseverance to be the best pizza baker. The rest you already have – your hands.

However, if you’re someone who often says, “meh, that will do, I’m hungry”, the answer to that question is a deep dish serving of “No”!

The difference between a casual cook and a pizzaiolo is just like the difference between someone who goes on a weekend camping trip and a person who abandons humanity to live with the wolves. It’s the difference between fast fashion and haute couture or playing Ludo vs Assasin’s Creed.

Pizzaiolos are artisans, and it’s not only a job but a calling. You need to strive to produce an experience, not just calories.

Even if you don’t plan on cashing in, you have to be someone who aims to create pizzas worth their weight in gold. And being causal about it ain’t gonna slice it.

First Steps to Becoming a Pizzaiolo

Step 1.

Make your own dough recipe

Even if you know how to make the Neapolitan dough, there’s no harm in playing with the recipe.

In truth, there are other factors that are going to come into play just like in any type of pizza baking, your location and environment can significantly impact it.

But transform the challenge into an experiment with proportions and percentages. 

Check our Homemade Pizza Dough Calculator to get some recipes you can try, and see if they work for you.

Step 2.

Experiment with different hydration percentages

With only a handful of ingredients, their ratios become vital. Pizza dough can’t be too wet, but you may need to adjust the amount of water in the recipe base on humidity or the type of oven you’re using.

Different flours have different needs, and we are not just talking about types made from other grains. Wheat flour can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer as well.

Check our hydration percentage charts for recommended percentages for different pizza styles.

Step 3.

Try different yeasts

Yeast is where a lot of the flavor comes from. Certainly, this huge sourdough renaissance happened some years ago, and that itself can help you create something different.

Sourdough is wild yeast, and it will taste different from location to location. There is no easier way to create a unique dough flavor.

But even if you stick to plain dry active yeast, you can still play with fermentation time and temperature, as well as perfect ratios.

Check out our article Yeast: Here is What You Need to Know for more info on different kinds of yeast and which one we think is the best.

Step 4.

Develop your own sauce

This is the part that allows for a tremendous amount of creativity.

Pick from different tomato breeds (from over 10,000 cultivars), adjust seasonings and spices, play with cooking methods, etc. You can probably spend a lifetime and still not explore every possible option.

Step 5.

Calculate the perfect amount and combination of toppings

Once you have your sauce, you can bring the other players to the party. It’s safe to say that less is always more in pizza making, but you still have to watch out for each ingredient’s water content.

Step 6.

Play with time and temperature

It may seem like there is not a lot of wiggle room here, but you would be surprised how much difference 10 seconds or 10 degrees can make.

In any case, you will have to find what works with your new sauce at least.

Check out our article Learn How these Key Variables will Affect Your Dough to learn more about how each variable will affect the result of your dough.

Step 7.

Take a pizza class

To learn how to make the True Neapolitan Pizza, head over to Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. They are the only ones that hold the secret to the perfect dough, and luckily for everyone outside of Italy, they even offer online classes.

It won’t hurt to take other pizza classes as well. Think of it as learning to play all instruments so you can become a better composer. Check out our Recommended Pizza Classes for more.

What Equipment Do You Need to Become a Pizzaiolo?

pizza oven

You can ignore or skimp on everything else, but get yourself a good pizza oven.

Pizzas cook quickly at very high heat. If you want to be a pizzaiolo but can’t hit those temps, you better not bother and pick up a pie from the frozen food aisle. Those are at least designed for regular home ovens.

You can either build a wood-fired oven in your backyard, which would be fantastic or you can buy a prefabricated oven

You buy something like this

You make it look like this


These prefabricated ovens will take longer to heat up than the standard kitchen oven, and they require a lot of fuel.  Which may not very economical if you’re cooking only one pie.

But if you are a pizza enthusiast who makes several pizzas during the month, the investment is worth it!

Still, there is a reason why they are the best for the job. They can reach temps of up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, which means that pizzas cook in 1 to 2 minutes max.

That’s something that can only be replicated with commercial equipment.

These options may be out of the question for you, maybe due to lack of space or budget. 

Luckily, these days there are other options that are well suited for a beginner or for someone that just lacks the space for such a big pizza oven.

There are a few options on the market, but it’s safe to say that not everything will hit a home run. We will only recommend what we think is best for you based on our experience.

The Ooni Pizza Ovens are a great alternative for those who are just starting out or lack enough space for a bigger oven.  They can reach temperatures up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit and will cook your pizza in about 2 to 3 minutes.


You will see others on the market similar to the Ooni, but to be on the safe side, avoid anything that seems too trendy or gimmicky.

Just because someone has put a lot of thought into the product’s appearance, it doesn’t mean they did the same for its other features.

To find which Ooni pizza oven is best for you, check our Ooni Pizza Ovens: The Definitive Buying Guide for Pizzaiolos.

Also, don’t waste too much time on general kitchen appliance manufacturers. For many of them, pizza ovens are yet another addition to their catalog, and they will not care too much about making their product perfect.

Your best bet is to go for indie or brands that specialize in making pizza ovens. 

One of our preferred vendors is Patio and Pizza, they have an array of different pizza ovens to choose from. They also have people on board to answer all your questions and guide you to making a good decision.



Check Out Our Favorite Pizza Ovens

Pull-Out Pizza Stone is a Game-Changer!
Lynx Professional Napoli 30-Inch Built-In / Counter Top Propane Outdoor Pizza Oven

This countertop or built-in propane pizza oven is the next great thing to complement your outdoor kitchen. With the capacity to bake an 18-inch pie, the inside hosts a specially formulated concrete heat-retaining dome and 400 square inch cooking surface which is perfect for the high heat demanded. 

Check it out
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Best Built-in Pizza Oven
Alfresco 30-Inch Built-In or Countertop Gas Outdoor Pizza Oven Plus

Get commercial quality and performance with this gas outdoor pizza oven from Alfresco. This Built-In Pizza Oven Plus preheats in 16 minutes and can reach over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit allowing you to roast, bake, iron-skillet sear, and of course, cook perfect four-minute Neapolitan pizzas. 

Check it Out
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Best Wood-Fired Pizza Oven
Forno Venetzia Pronto 500 33-Inch Outdoor Wood-Fired Pizza Oven

The Pronto series by Forno Venetzia offers an authentic Italian wood-fired pizza experience in a compact and portable footprint. The Italian-designed and engineered Pronto 500 freestanding wood-fired pizza oven is the ideal solution for outdoor kitchens with limited space. 

Check it Out
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you!

But if you are not ready to buy yet, just check our Recommended Pizza Ovens, where you can see what we recommend depending on the fuel you want to use, it is for indoor or outdoor placement. We showcase a countertop, portable and built-in pizza oven.  Don’t miss it!

What Ingredients Do You Need to Use to be a Pizzaiolo

Only the best!  Great pizza is made with great ingredients.  There is no question about that.  You need the best flour and certainly fresh yeast.  “Fresh” as in not expired or old yeast, also known as Cake Yeast.

Flour

Keep in mind the flour you use is manufactured specifically to be used in high-temperature ovens.  If you use any standard all-purpose flour it will burn and will not taste good. 

We recommend using Caputo Pizzeria Flour if you are using a high-temperature oven that reaches temperatures higher than 700 degrees Fahrenheit or Caputo Chef’s Flour if you are using a regular kitchen oven that can only go up to 500 to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.

Best for Standard Home Ovens
Antimo Caputo "00" Chefs Flour (Red)

The Chef's flour is a general-purpose, high gluten flour that works well for many recipes. "Tipo 00" refers to how refined the flour is. Chef's Flour is best for those who want to bake in their traditional home oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit! 

Check it Out
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Yeast

You will see that there is always a huge debate as to which is the best yeast for homemade pizza.  Some say they prefer instant while others say they prefer active dry yeast.   

What they don’t say is that at the end of the day you can use either. Instant will be faster while active dry will be slower. 

As a result, active dry will give you more flavor. Check our article on Active Dry vs Instant Yeast for more info on this.   Our favorite is active dry because we don’t sacrifice flavor for time. 

The order of the ingredients will vary according to which yeast you use.  Active dry yeast gives you a sense of security because you have to activate or “proof” the yeast first before adding it to the flour. 

On the other hand instant yeast, you added directly to the flour when you start, but if the yeast is dead you ruined the whole batch of the flour mixture and have to start all over again with new flour and new yeast. 

Specialty flours come with a price tag, so you shouldn’t waste a single bit of it. 

Do You Want to Be the Best Pizzaiolo?

Well, tough crust, there isn’t such a thing. But you can strive to be the best for now.

Once you start on this road, you have committed to continually developing your skills. There will always be room for improvement. If you don’t see it, it means that your passion is taking a nap, and you’ll have to find a way to wake yourself up.

  • You must be open to criticism at all times. Your taste buds may be refined and able to pick up on the subtlest of aromas, but that doesn’t mean that you will be able to match everyone’s preference.
  • Think of it as being in the never-ending battle to create a Pizza Prime – a pie so good that no one can stop drooling. And since there are billions of pizza lovers on this planet, there’s quite a bit of work that awaits you.

What Do You Need to Do to Become a Certified Pizzaiolo?

You’ll get certified as a pizza chef in any culinary school in the world. But in the case of a pizzaiolo certification, you’ll need to pack your bags and get yourself to Italy.

Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) is the only place that can knight you as a genuine pizzaiolo. Since they are the only ones that can teach you how to make a True Neapolitan Pizza, they are also the only ones that can judge your skills.

Finally, take your masterpiece to New York and seek the approval of true connoisseurs.

What to Do to be a Self-Proclaimed Pizzaiolo?

Easy! Get yourself a Pizzaiolo or Pizzaiola T-Shirt or Apron and start making pizza!  We have plenty of resources to help you out and are always here to serve you better. 

If you have a question, you can either check our FAQ Section or our Learn Section and if you don’t find an answer to your question there contact us.  Send us a quick email and we will be more than glad to help out.

Here’s What We are Reading

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pizza Cookbook
$17.39

Host the ultimate pizza party with this creative cookbook of delicious recipes inspired by the heroes of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 


Straight out of the sewers and right into the kitchen, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' favorite pizzas are finally yours to create and enjoy! Join Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo on a seriously gooey, gooey, cheesy, adventure inspired by the beloved original cartoon series. 

Check it Out
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09/27/2022 12:14 am GMT

Enjoy!

Not a PRO? Not a Problem!

Take a pizza class to bring your pizza skills to the next level,

so you can be a PRO!

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