Although it sounds like a cliché, Italy really is a pizza-lover’s dream, and Naples is the place to find the best pies in the country - possibly even the world. Few cities would be willing to hang their reputation on such a dramatic statement as that, but after your first bite of a light crust baked to perfection in a wood-burning brick oven, you will be convinced.
Believe it or night, Naples has a pizza association with stringent rules for pizzerias. To be sure you’re getting an authentic slice of Napoli, look for the 'Pizza Vera' sign or an endorsement from the Asssociazone Verace Pizza Napletana. A wood-fired oven is among the requirements, as are specific tomato varieties, the source of the mozzarella and even the thickness of the dough.
How do you eat pizza in Italy?
Authentic pizza is never served sliced, nor is it appropriate to try to slice it at the table. The short, super-hot method of baking the pies gives a slightly charred crust and a soft (well, maybe soggy) centre that doesn’t really lend itself to slices. If you dine at a table you’ll want to use a knife and fork, but a better way to enjoy your pie is by folding it up in heavy paper and munching on the tomato-y feast as you wander down the street. The fold kind of mashes the saucy middle part onto the crust, creating the perfect mix of crunch and toppings.
11 of the best places to eat pizza in Naples
Creativecommons.org/ Henryk RypinskiIl Pizzaiolo del Presidente
The well-known pizzeria was renamed after President Clinton and his visit in 1994, but the locals have always known about it. The pies there are really saucy and a bit better suited to eating while seated. The pies are also quite large, so come hungry or bring a few friends.
Antica Pizzeria e Friggitoria Di Matteo
Made a wee bit smaller and with a sturdier cheese, the pizzas at Di Matteo are perfect for folding up and eating while you walk. If you decide to eat in, get a spot upstairs and watch the staff use the old-fashioned pulley to deliver the pies smoking hot from the oven.
Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba
At 184 years, Antica is believed to be the oldest pizzeria in the world. It actually started about 90 years prior to opening as a restaurant, selling pizza on the street from small tin stoves that peddlers balanced on their heads. Not only is the pizza great, it’s pretty amazing to be surrounded by such incredible food history.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
Creativecommons.org/ Angelo DeSantis
This is the crispy, tangy pie that Elizabeth Gilbert made famous in her book, and locals have known about for 140 years. It’s a small place with shared tables, which is a very Italian approach to eating. Service is quick, possibly because the menu only has two choices.
Another one of the founding pizza places, the legend is that this restaurant invented the Margherita pizza at the special request of Queen Margherita of Savoy. True or not, Brandi’s is the best place to get the simple pie of basil, mozzarella and tomato that may have delighted a queen. This is another well-sized pizza for folding up and taking with you.
Pizzeria Trianon Da Ciro
The pies there are a little drier than most of what you’ll get in Naples and they have a full range of toppings. The pizzeria has three full floors and always packed with tourists and locals. If they have it, try the salsicca (sausage) and friarelli (a type of broccoli specific to Naples).
Creativecommons.org/ Daniela Vladimirova
There are 21 pizza-making kids in this family, and three of them have pizzerias on the same block. None of them are bad, but Gino’s are clearly the best (Via dei Tribunali 32). His pies are huge and tasty and extremely popular. Plan to hang out with the crowd and remember that the pies only take about a minute to cook in those ovens.
Pizzeria La Notizia
Run by the grandson of the original owner, the pies there are a blend of smoky highlights on a soft, chewy crust. The dough proofs for a very long time, creating a puffier finished product with a slight tang of fermentation. The restaurant is not in the centre of the tourist area and will require a trip to the upper part of Naples.
The location near the sea might suggest that this is a good place to get seafood, and it is, but it’s a great place to get pizza too. The view is also nice, but the place is so popular that you aren’t encouraged to stay. Do your best to arrive off peak hours so you can linger a bit while you enjoy your pizza and fried seaweed.
A century of tradition backs the pies at this pizzeria, along with the family’s honour. They adhere to the Naples standards but have added ingredients that are a little less common on pizza. They also tend to have a few more toppings making this another “must sit to eat” place.
If you just can’t get into that pizza with the soggy centre, take a trip to the outskirts of Naples to this family run place in the suburb of San Giorgio a Cremano. They do have traditional pies, but they also offer some less-soggy items, like stuffed pies and something resembling a deep-fried calzone.
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