And no, it’s not “everywhere”.
I don’t know about you, but when I travel sometimes I fall so deep into the Google/ blog/ Insta vortex looking for “the best” of something that I come out the other end needing a nap… or a hug… ot sometimes both. And then I still don’t have any idea where to eat, and I’m so exhausted that I just eat a packet of Doritos for dinner.
But what we love the most is local recommendation – and we’ll take them from anyone. Air BnB hosts! Cabbies! Nonna’s on the street! We don’t care, as long as it’s local and their eyes kind of twinkle when they tell you. That’s the real giveaway. Anyway, long story long, we went to Naples on a pizza eating mission and I believe it was a success. My thighs may disagree, but they’re always being cranky like that. Here’s what we found.
But first, some background!
Ha! Tricked ya. I’m not going to tell you about the pizza just yet. I’m going to make you learn first! But, I promise this is good stuff to know for future trivia nights. The Neapolitans are known for creating many delicious things, but perhaps most famously as the birthplace of Neapolitan ice cream, I mean pizza (although I was personally pretty excited to learn that it’s also where my childhood ice cream dreams were born too).
In Naples it’s a serious business. There’s even a special association – Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana – that certifies pizzeria’s who cook by the authentic, traditional style/ requirements. And officially there are only two variants to the classic Pizza Napoletana: Marinara (San Marzano, tomato, garlic, oregano and extra-virgin olive oil) and Margherita, (tomato, sliced fresh mozzarella or fiori de latte, fresh basil, and extra-virgin olive oil). So, for the sake of consistency we only tried traditional pizza, which is also only thin crust, btw for those deep dish lovers (was that sexy? It wasn’t meant to be but I feel like “deep dish” sounds very sexuale).
Also, in the name of “objectiveness” ( “to eat more”), we decided to test three recommendations: one from a local, one from a hospo dude, and one from Trip Advisor. Now, to the pizza!
The internet recommends: L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, Via Cesare Sersale 1.
OK, first thing you need to know is: this is where Julia Roberts had a pizza orgasm in Eat Pray Love. For me, that screams hell because touristy places are not my idea of a good time (I like to eat without someone’s armpit near my food) and also generally touristy places are pretty crap. But, alas! In the name of research we went in at 11:30 for a brunch style pizza to avoid the crowds. Ha! Rookies. Places like that never not have a crowd. We got the only seat left in the place, and we were surrounded almost exclusively by other tourists (mostly chicks). I guess Eat Pray Love was a kinda big deal even if I slept through it. But, the pizza… well begrudingly I have to say the pizza was actually pretty good. They only served the two traditional pizzas there (marinara and margherita) which suited us since it was all we were ordering. The best part about the pizza was that it didn’t get oily or soggy half way through like they usually do. But that said, the dough was chewier than other pizza’s we had, which, I don’t know if I’m into. The margherita was definitely better than the marinara, and I think that’s really because of the ingredients. For a marinara (essentially tomato and herbs) to blow your hair back, you really need the most awesome, fresh ingredients. And, I don’t know, for me it felt just underwhelming. Like the ingredients had been left in the fridge and lost that delicious fresh herby smell, you know? Anyhoo, I’m being a princess because I have been spoiled with the many pizza-ry delights of Napoli and can pick it apart, but that said, if this was your first ever Napoli pizza and you’re not bothered by 200 tourists all taking pizza selfies, then I reckon you’d dig it. Also, it was only €4 per whole pizza! And beer was cheaper than water! Italians rule.
The hospo dude recommends: Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo, Via dei Tribunali, 32.
When we were recommended this place by a bartender (at some random watering hole in Vomero) and then looked it up, we figured that he’d just sent us to a tourist trap to keep the stupid foreigners happy. But Sorbillo is one of those places that just happens to be good and touristy. It’s located right in the historical centre of Napoli, and just like Michele has lines almost permanently out the door. We went at 1:15, you know, right in rush hour becuase we’re super switched on and clever like that. But! We only had to wait 20 minutes. Anyway, the pizza itself here is molte buono. Apparently this place has won some fancy best pizza award and I get it. The marinara was super flavoursome and fresh with rich tasting tomato sauce (and REAL LIFE basil leaves), the base was fluffy and I managed to scoff my half in less time than it took me to sit down. And the margherita, despite having cheese that by some sorcery didn’t melt, was just bloody delicious. We were surrounded by a bunch of Italians too, which for me is always the best sign of if the place is good. Also, it was a couple Euros cheaper than pretty much everywhere else we went (€3 – €3.50!). As far as something accessible and central, this was totally my pick in Napoli, since not everyone has cool Italian neighbours to drive them around to other pizza shops (more on that below). I’ve since read a bunch of reviews about this place where people are offended by the service. Honestly though, it was fine. It’s a busy pizza shop, no one is going to kiss your butt for spend ten bucks. You’re in and out in less than an hour, and for that price, I really just want to be fed.
The locals recommend: Pizzeria La Notizia , Via Michelangelo da Caravaggio, 53.
We were lucky in Napoli because we just happened to pick an Air Bnb that was next door to two incredible humans – Carlo and Illaria. On our second day there Carlo asked if we liked coffee (and, as you know Aussies are deadly serious about their coffee) so naturally we became best friends. Over the course of two weeks we saw all Napoli as true locals… by which I mean we ate everything. Ideal. So, at some point Carlo and Illaria took us to their favourite (“the best”) pizzeria in Italy. Now, Italians are prone to exaggeration, and they LOVE their food and produce, so most Italians will tell you that something they love is the best in the world. But, these guys actually knew their shit. La Notizia is about as local as you can get. Not a tourist in sight, which is probably becuase it’s just a little further out of the city so harder to get to than you usuals… but of course that’s my absolute dream so I was already popping heart eyes for the place. But, the pizza! Oh my god was it worth it. This was hands down our favourite meal in Napoli. Somehow the bases were light and fluffy and magically didn’t get soggy at all through the meal. The ingedients tasted like they’d been picked straight from Nonna’s veggie patch, and even more magically you didn’t feel like a fat bushpig after eating it, becuase the ingredients were fresh and the dough wasn’t stodgy. It’s a Christmas miracle! I ate the whole thing with a stupid grin on my face making wild Italian hand gestures, because at the heart of it I am still a cliché dumb tourist (also, I’m half Italian so there’s that). Pizzeria La Notizia legitimately changed the way I felt about pizza/ ruined “regular” pizza for me forever more.
Ok, so that about wraps up my pizza review. Hey, I never said I was a food critic but at least I’m honest. Alas, there are a few other things we found along the way that I think is VERY USEFUL INFORMATION. So, I’ve put that below. Enjoy, lovers.
There is an imposter Da Michele… and it’s actually pretty good:
On our first day in Napoli we decided to get pizza and a quick google found that we happened to be right near the famous Da Michele! I was so excited, there was no line, no people inside except for a nonna sipping on espresso… how could I be so lucky? Didn’t the rest of the Internet read about this famous place? Half way through my first pizza I realised that’s becuase it wasn’t THE Da Michele (which has a tricksie L’Antica before its name) but an imposter by the (almost) same name. But! Here’s the thing: the pizza was actually pretty damn good. I don’t know if it’s because it was our first slice of Neapolitan heaven or we were just over-hungry, but we still talk about that first pizza with heart eyes like it’s our first born. Something about the sauce tasting like nonna had just squished it herself with her bare hands. I don’t know. Anyway if you happen to be in Naples in the Chiaia region, hit up Pizzeria da Michele on via Giuseppe Martucci 93, and say hi to nonna for us.
There are no slices:
In Italy the pizza comes whole. As in, no slices. When you order you order a pie PER PERSON and you eat it with a knife and fork. Doesn’t that just blow your mind? I always thought people who ate pizza with a knife and fork were just fancy folk who didn’t want to get oil on their fingers. But, it turns out, we’ve been doing it wrong all along.
They don’t share:
You know how on Friends Joey doesn’t share? Well, it turns out that was just very Italian of him. Your pizza is yours and yours only. This is the best news for middle children everywhere (me).
There is no Hawaiian:
Most people would applaud this choice because everyone knows fruit does not belong on savoury food. But, as my boyfriend is one of the -2 per cent who actually likes this monstrosity, I felt I should mention it. Italians are very proud of their food, and as such they don’t like to spoil it with unnecessary crap. That means, no almond/soy/any other variation of milk in your coffee, and definitely no fruit on your pizza. Asking for it would be like insulting their mother, so don’t even bother. Also, you really don’t need 253875934 toppings on your pizza anyway. Trust me. The Italians do do it better.
It turned me into a pizza lover:
Here’s a weird thing about me, considering you’ve just made it to the end of this post: I don’t really like pizza. It’s maybe 26 on my list of things I would order out. Even after a big night, I’d take a falafel over pizza any day. I’m such an embarrassment to my Italian heritage, I know. And, of all the pizza, my least favourite is margherita (because, frankly it’s boring and I rather get fat off a triple-cream brie). BUT! Pizza in Napoli truly changed me. I finally “got” pizza. It was the freshness of the ingredients, the simplicity, and the balance of flavours that all came together in one big taste sensation. Now, I’m not going to order a ten stack of Dominos any time soon, but I will say that pizza is Napoli really is something special.