Pizzeria Orso is Now Serving Certified Neapolitan Pies

They're celebrating with month-long specials.
Pizzeria Orso is Now Serving Certified Neapolitan Pies
Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church gains authentic Neapolitan certification. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Thin, wood-fired pizzas are abundant in Washington, but less than a dozen restaurants in the area can rightly call their product Neapolitan (not “Neapolitan-style”). To achieve the stamp of authenticity restaurants must go through rigorous testing by Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN), a Naples-based organization founded to protect the city’s iconic dish. The latest restaurant to join the club: Pizzeria Orso, helmed by chef Bertrand Chemel.

Neapolitan pizza holds DOC status, short for denominazione di origine controllata, or “controlled designation of origin.” Like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese—or Champagne in France—the label is a government-protected stamp of authenticity that guarantees a level of quality, and often protects centuries-old traditions. In order to serve “pizza DOC”—a dish first introduced in DC at 2 Amys—chefs partake in months of training and testing. The Washington Post followed Chemel through part of the process, which includes shaping the dough to a specific dimension, using particular ingredients (“00” wheat flour, San Marzano tomatoes), and cooking the dish in an oven that’s heated to no less than 900 degrees.

Just because a pizzeria is VPN-certified doesn’t mean all the pies are Neapolitan. Orso still serves plenty of unorthodox creations topped with figs and speck or smoked tomatoes; only the margherita with buffalo mozzarella or cheese-less marinara are considered DOC.

Orso is celebrating its new status by serving the margherita and marinara for $7.95 each, plus any of the pizzas (minus the weekly special) for $10.95 through October 31, during lunch and dinner.

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.