Oh, Dough. I wanted to love you, but something wasn't quite right. After splitting two apps and two pizzas between three people, and leaving a bloated, tired shell of my former self, I started thinking about Neapolitan pizza.
The Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) has been certifying pizzerias for years, prescribing types of flour, water, salt and yeast for authentic Neapolitan pies. Many menus that display the VPN certificate will include a brief summary of the rules. Dough does too, even if they don't have a certificate proving their adherence to those rules. But think about it: yeast, flour, water, salt. These are the four main ingredients in every loaf of bread you've ever eaten. And even in a specified 900-degree oven there's still a lot of room for variation. Surely there is more to authentic Neapolitan pizza than the ingredients and the oven.
I called Peppe Miele, the president of VPN Americas and the first restaurant in the States to be certified by the VPN. Miele talked to me at length about the certification process, how restaurants are ushered through it and how they maintain certification over time.
Meile emailed me the "Regulation for obtaining use of the collective trade mark 'Verace Pizza Napoletana,'" a 12-page rule book that specifies a lot more than ingredients. Water pH, temperature, mixing time, resting time, density, dough ball sizes to the gram, and more are specified with great detail. But the quote by the founder of the organization, buried in the Italian website, summed up what will never make it into a rule book: "You can standardize the process, but it is the experience that refines the art."
Last week while I was working my review, which you'll find in this week's paper and online now, Meile confirmed that the Dallas location of Dough Pizzeria Napoletana was not certified by the VPN, and that each individual restaurant needed to go through the process to receive and display the certificate.
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I called the restaurant and asked if they were certified and got an answer you may have read elsewhere. "You have to be open at least six months to be certified," Brad Liles told me, echoing what Lori Horn told Leslie Brenner after Brenner mistakenly wrote that the restaurant was proud of its certification.
I emailed Meile to check how long a restaurant has to be open before it can apply for VPN certification. Donato Rumi the Sales and Marketing Coordinator VPN Americas responded to me on behalf of Meile. His response?
Anytime after the restaurant officially opened to public.
When I dined at Dough, I payed special attention to look around the dining room and take the temperature of its customers. The service was polite and courteous, and everyone eating there wore a smile, likely because this is some of the best pizza available in Preston Hollow. But for me, when I'm paying $14 to $22 for small pies, I'd rather eat at a place that takes the time and effort to assure the pizzas are as authentic as advertised.