When Paolo Cavalli opened Cavilli Pizza, his first pizzeria, in Irving in 2007, he was sure to contact the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN), the group of Neapolitan pizza nerds who certify the world's pizza shops as being Naples-approved. His was the first Texas pizza to be VPN certified, and the distinction earned him a lot of attention.
But over time Cavalli began to wonder if the expense was worth it. He says the VPN charged nearly $2,000 for the annual certification, and the group did little to monitor the quality of the pies in subsequent years.
So when he learned about a new group called Associazone Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, he contacted the president of the American Chapter, Roberto Caporuscio, and liked what he heard. Unlike the VPN, which certifies the pizzeria, the APN certifies the individual pizzaiolo manning the oven. Certificates are awarded to the employees who make the dough, shape each round and fire each pie, and if they leave the pizzeria the certification goes with them. Makes sense.
The certification process is also more thorough. Under VPN, Cavilli says a representative came out, watched the pizza process for about an hour and then awarded the certificate. Caporuscio and the APN, on the other hand, requires a full day with each pizzaiolo one on one. He walks them through dough creation, pulling mozzarella, proper shaping and topping techniques and finally how to cook a pie in an oven that reaches an excess of 900 degrees.
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Cavilli says one of his APN certified pizzaiolos will be at each location, and that he'll bounce back and forth between both, but the goal is to have each oven constantly manned by a pedigreed pizza slinger for the most authentic Neapolitan pizza experience possible.