East Passyunk newcomer Brigantessa makes pizza in the Neapolitan style (they're still in the process of acquiring DOC certification from the Italian government), which is still unfamiliar ground for many of us, despite its growing popularity. To those of us raised on American pies, it may not be immediately apparent how to best appreciate these small, slightly soupy pies that arrive at the table uncut.
So Brigantessa's chef-owner Joe Cicala starred in this video (made by Kateri Likoudis, whose photos line Brigantessa's walls) to help clear things up. In it, he describes his own initiation to Neapolitan pizza, at the legendary Pizzeria da Michele. ("It was like the heavens parted and the angels came down and said, 'This is pizza.'") He also elaborates on what goes into making a pie in the true Neapolitan style, what a good one should look like, and — perhaps most importantly of all — how to eat it: Like most truly good things, you just tear into it with your hands.
In a press release accompanying the video, Cicala went on to offer this sterling explanation of why one never, ever cuts a Neapolitan pizza before serving:
Cutting the pizza into slices when it leaves the oven sends all of the delicious toppings straight through the crust and on to the plate - it's tantamount to serving a cupcake with the icing already licked off, and in Napoli, they would look at you with the same contempt we would direct at someone daintily eating a Philadelphia soft pretzel with silverware off of fine china.