New York

Neapolitan Pizza Gets UNESCO Heritage Status, NY Pizzeria Giving Away Free Slices to Celebrate

Pizza is sacred, all New Yorkers know that. 

But now a particular type of pizza has been given a very official seal of approval, with UNESCO granting the art of making Neapolitan pizza, or "Pizzaiuolo," heritage status. 

Last week, the organization met in Jeju, Korea, where 33 new items were added to its list of the "intangible cultural heritage of humanity." 

About 2 million pizza enthusiasts had signed a petition to support Naples’ application for including the art of the Neapolitan Pizzaiuolo.

When it was accepted, the news was met with celebrations in Naples, reporters describing a sort of citywide pizza-party.

Closer to home, Rosario Procino of Manhattan's Ribalta pizzeria was also celebrating. The pizzeria is the only one in New York recognized by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, an international organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the ‘true Neapolitan pizza,’ he said.

The Naples native, who came to New York in 1999, said he was incredibly proud to hear the news. 

"I don't think it's wrong to say pizza is the most recognized and known food in the a Neapolitan it definitely made me proud."

He said, while pizza has now gone around the world and is eaten in many different forms, the process of making a Neapolitan pizza has not changed for more than 300 years. 

The process of making a Neapolitan pizza is very specific, from the shaping of dough balls, to the resting of the dough, spreading it out, tossing it, toppings and baking. 

"UNESCO looks at the act of making as something that goes beyond the pizza, the technique," Procino said.

"The pizza is a focal point of life in Naples, the pizza maker is at the center of society, it's like music, culture, art - it's a celebration of our most famous product."

To celebrate the honor, Ribalta would be giving away free slices outside the store at 12th Street and Broadway on Thursday, between the hours of 2 and 3 p.m.

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