Photo by Rebecca Leftwich/ The Newnan Times-Herald

By Rebecca Leftwich | rebecca@newnan.com

If you’re in the market for fresh, authentic Italian pizza, look no further than Positano Pizza Napoletana.

Located in Ashley Park, the restaurant serves pizzas, salads, gelato, beer and wine, espresso and Nonna-approved desserts. A brand-new second location at The Avenue in Peachtree City also boasts a full bar featuring premium Italian wines, beer and spirits.

Pizza as we know it was invented in Naples in the 18th century. Ever since then, this iconic Neapolitan dish traveled the world and today many cultures have their own adaptation of it. In the US, New York pizza and Chicago pizza are different interpretations of the first pizza created in Naples. A key reason for these different styles is that Neapolitan pizza, in its original state, is very hard to replicate. You need a very specific skill set, special ovens, and fresh ingredients from the Naples area. That’s the authenticity that Positano Pizza brings to the Newnan community.

Positano Pizza uses two Acunto wood-fired ovens hand-built in Naples, and the owners pride themselves in serving the freshest and most authentic ingredients imported from Italy on a weekly basis, said owner Ben Gjuka, who operates the restaurant with his brother, Sahit Gjuka. 

The brothers graduated from specialized training at the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (True Neapolitan Pizza Association), which carefully preserves the centuries-old pizza-making tradition of Naples. It is a very specific scientific process.

“It’s the chemistry behind it – the leavening, the maturation, the fermentation,” Gjuka said. “We are very deliberate, thoughtful and precise with our dough making – from the way we use yeast, heat and time to come to the perfect maturation.” This means coming to the restaurant two hours early to fire up the ovens and regulate the heat. The bricks inside are made from the volcanic ash of Mt. Vesuvius and can generate heat up to 1,000 degrees. At dinnertime, the ovens are maintained at 900-950 degrees and the pizzas take just 90 seconds to bake.

The delicious, slightly charred crust is finished in the ovens, but it starts with superfine, 00 flour milled at a 500-year-old mill. Because most of the gluten “falls off” during the milling process, Positano’s delicious pizza can even be enjoyed by some gluten-sensitive customers.

“If you are gluten sensitive, you can enjoy our regular pizza”  Gjuka said. “But if you want a complete gluten-free option, we do have a gluten-free personal pizza too”

From the flour to the world-class San Marzano tomatoes, to the sausage and olive oil, all are carefully selected to give customers a true Neapolitan pizza experience. Mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella) and the fior di latte make the pizza truly special.

“We are the only ones to serve true mozzarella di bufala,” Gjuka said. “It’s amazing and it also tastes very good.”

In terms of local produce, the restaurant works with local communities in Georgia to source arugula, spring mix, and other fresh produce.

The restaurant features industrial mid-century decor with hints of Italian design. All pizzas and salads are made fresh in front of customers. Community-style seating – where diners sit wherever space is available at the restaurant’s long tables – offers the opportunity to make friends out of strangers while enjoying a delicious meal, Italian music and a great view of the pizza makers as they work their magic.

“The ovens and the pizza-making are the star and the entertainment,” Gjuka said.

Simple and delicious, Positano pizza reflects the true tastes of Italy. The warm, welcoming atmosphere and personal attention elevates it to something more.

“Positano is not just a pizza place, it’s an experience” Gjuka said.