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Blade 1936
Antonio Zammataro pulls a Neapolitan pizza from a wood-fired oven at Blade 1936. Photo by Aleya Zenieris
Cities Food & Wine Oceanside Oceanside Featured

North County is officially home to authentic Neapolitan pizza

OCEANSIDE — When people order wood-fired pizza at Blade 1936, they get a slice similar to what the first pizza ever made may have tasted like.

The Italian restaurant, which first opened up last September in the former Blade-Tribune newspaper building, recently became California’s 20th restaurant and the 10th restaurant in Southern California to become a member of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN).

The AVPN certification means the pizza at Blade 1936 meets the standards of a true, traditional Neapolitan pizza. The association has strict specifications for what it takes to make a true Neapolitan pizza, including its ingredients and where they come from, dough preparation, fermentation, ingredient presentation and cooking temperature.

Pizza started in Naples as flatbreads with various toppings and was originally considered food for the poor. Its popularity outside of the city began to grow in the 1940s when more and more immigrants from Naples began recreating their pizza recipes in the United States.

Blade 1936 is the second restaurant in San Diego County to receive the AVPN certification, the other being Caffé Calabria in San Diego. Master Pizza Chef John Carlo Ferraiuolo is behind both of those restaurants and their AVPN certifications.

Blade 1936
The exterior of Blade 1936 in Oceanside. Photo by Kathryn Caudle

The son of two Italian immigrants, Ferraiuolo grew up in New York City where his father owned pizzerias on Long Island. He moved to Naples, Italy and spent the next 20 years moving back and forth between New York and Naples until he moved to San Diego in 2009.

Ferraiuolo grew to love making pizza when he was a child, but as a teenager, it began to feel more like work to him. When he moved to San Diego, he left the pizza and restaurant industry.

After working in real estate for a year, Ferraiuolo met Arne Holt, the owner of Caffe Calabria, a coffee roasting company. Holt had imported what Ferraiuolo called “one of the best wood fire ovens” from Italy and needed someone who knew how to work it. Ferraiuolo was that person.

“That brought back memories for me why it was so fun to do, and I wasn’t being forced to do it,” Ferraiuolo said. “I decided that this was what I needed to do for the rest of my life.”

Blade 1936
Authentic Neapolitan pizza at Blade 1936 in Oceanside. Photo by Aleya Zenieris

Ferraiuolo also gave credit to Blade 1936’s pizzeria manager, Antonio Zammataro, for the AVPN certification.

“He takes care of the day-to-day and makes sure the pizzas come out the way they should,” Ferraiuolo said.

Blade 1936 was still a relatively new business in Oceanside when the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown began. The business had been looking forward to the spring and summer for tourists to start coming in, but that couldn’t happen.

The restaurant was shut down for one day so that the restaurant’s team could regroup and figure out what to do next. Like many other restaurants throughout the city, Blade 1936 began focusing its services on take-out and delivery options.

The restaurant was able to open for indoor dining when other restaurants were given the green light back in late May but now has moved its dine-in services to outdoors after Gov. Gavin Newsom released his new orders prohibiting indoor dining.

“It’s just a curveball they’ve thrown at us,” Ferraiuolo said. “They can keep adding restrictions and we’ll just adapt and move on.”