After a year of ups and downs, Union Square pizzeria Ribalta ushered in a new era when two Naples natives, chef Pasquale Cozzolino and co-owner and manager Rosario Procino, came on board last month. According to Procino, the pair is attempting to introduce Neapolitan pizza 2.0 to New York City, a more creative and relaxed take on a style of pie that was little known until a few years ago but is ubiquitous today. But in a city like New York, where pizza has deep roots, not everyone is on board with the evolution, if only because many consider the New York-style slice the epitome of good pie.
Consider this from commenter Stevart:
I remember pizza when it was 25 cents per slice in the early 60s and it was perfect, before all the retro crap the baby boomers get suckered into. What is now referred to as Neapolitan is a marketing hoax. Perhaps that is what they eat in Naples, but it is not classic American pizza which you can still purchase by the slice in NY as some places make it the same way. It’s not 25 cents but it’s still good but not AS good as the pizza I grew up with in da Bronx.
Incidentally, during the course of our interview, Procino commented on the personal nature of pizza, noting that it’s a food many cities and people have adapted to fit a particular culture and communal preference. For him, he added, pizza means Neapolitan pizza, period. For people like Stevart, it’s a 25 cent slice.
That begs a question: what is pizza for you?