A PIZZA restaurant has received a prestigious accreditation for its Italian food, recognising its authenticity.

Stable Hearth Neapolitan Pizzeria, Darlington, has become one of only a few restaurants in the UK to achieve Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) accreditation for its pizzas.

The AVPN is a 36-year-old non-pofit group, based in Naples, dedicated to "promoting and protecting true Neapolitan pizza" based on predetermined characteristics.

There are currently four other restaurants in the country to be recognised by the organisation.

The Northern Echo:

Stable Hearth owner and head pizza chef Nicholas Thexton said: “The entire team has been striving for this success since we opened in 2017. We are so proud to be recognised as providing authentic Neapolitan pizzas.

“We have extremely high standards when it comes to our ingredients and this shows though the quality of food we provide to our customers.”

The AVPN look at authenticity markers such as the dough making process, hand stretching pizza bases and cooking in the wood burning oven. Toppings, too, must be authentic.

Mr Thexton added: “Many of our ingredients are sourced direct from Italy to ensure authenticity. We make our own dough on site every day - sticking to the Neapolitan traditions of using only four ingredients - flour, water, salt and yeast.

“Our pizzas are hand-stretched and topped with the finest ingredients before being cooked in our traditional wood-burning oven at temperatures in excess of 400 degrees celsius. The pizzas cook in less than 90 seconds - blink and you’ll miss it.

The Northern Echo:

“The finished product has a large, spotted crust which is the defining characteristic of a Neapolitan pizza. The centre of the pizza is gloopy as there should be more sauce than cheese.

"Neapolitan pizzas are different from those in other regions of Italy - they are not meant to be thin and crispy, they are more soggy and twice as delicious!”

The family business has twice previously been named Best Pizzeria in England in the Italian Awards.