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A crackdown on fraudulent pizza

Italian agency issues rules for authentic pies

ROME -- Pizza-makers beware: Italy has issued strict guidelines to protect the real Neapolitan pizza from bogus copies.

The regulations touch on everything from size to ingredients to the type of oven -- and rule-abiding restaurants will receive a special label attesting that real pizza can be eaten there.

The rules, issued by the Agriculture Ministry, are part of Italy's efforts to protect its cuisine across the European Union, although it was not immediately clear what steps would be taken for enforcement.

The guidelines, printed Tuesday in the country's Official Gazette, say real Neapolitan pizza dough must be round, no more than 14 inches in diameter, no thicker than 0.1 inches in the middle, with a crust about 0.8 inches thick.

"The texture must be soft, elastic, easily foldable," the guidelines say.

The norms also specify what kind of flour, yeast, tomatoes and oil must be used.

They recognize only three types of real Neapolitan pizza: Marinara, with garlic and oregano; Margherita, with basil and mozzarella cheese from the southern Apennines; and extra-Margherita, with fresh tomatoes, basil and buffalo mozzarella from Campania, the region that includes pizza's hometown, Naples.

The dough must be rolled out manually and baked in wood-burning ovens that can reach the required temperature of 905 degrees.

The regulations were approved after surveying pizza-makers in Naples and surrounding areas. Restaurants that abide by the rules will get a label saying their pizza is a "guaranteed traditional specialty."

"These norms protect one of the most ancient and most important gastronomic traditions," said Antonio Pace, owner of one of Naples' oldest pizza restaurants and the president of a pizza-makers' association.

Financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore, which like many other Italian newspapers devoted a front-page story to the pizza rules yesterday, described the move as "an act of love, but a desperate one."

"Pizza is now a stateless, boundless, flag-less food," it said.

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