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Italian Town Bans Wood-Burning Pizza Ovens

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Italian Town Bans Wood-Burning Pizza Ovens

"Neapolitan pizza needs to be cooked in a wood-fired oven, low domes and a small vent, to keep the temperature at 400 degrees, and to cook in exactly one minute and a half.” -Pizzeria Salvo, Naples

Any Italian chef will tell you the secret to Neapolitan pizza lies in cooking it in a wood burning oven. The high temperatures and smoky aroma contribute to a fluffy yet light crust worthy of daily cravings. This pizza cooking technique has been around for centuries but one Italian town is threatening this tradition.

San Vitaliano, which is located just outside of Naples, has banned all wood-burning ovens in restaurants, pizzerias and bakeries. The ban was prompted by high pollution levels and will be enforced by police until March 31, the BBC reports. All business owners are required to install new air filters and offenders will face fines up to 1,032 euros (£760, $1,130). 

How bad is the air quality in San Vitaliano?

Italian newspaper Il Mattino reports it is more polluted than Beijing. This year alone the city exceeded the threshold for emissions 114 times, according to the paper, not nearly as bad as neighboring Naples.

The town may be polluted but some local pizza makers are skeptical wood-burning ovens are the culprit.

"We can't be the cause of the smog. Naples has many more pizzerias than San Vitaliano but doesn't have the same pollution levels. It's clear that they don't want to pinpoint the real cause. This order is a very costly mistake for us," one of them told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

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