We have finally made it to Naples for three days of pizza. We were so excited we started at the top must eat pizza places. The first one we arrived at had such a long line that we decided to go to the next recommended one, which had a much larger dining area, opting to come back to the other one for dinner. Lunch pizza was such a let down we did not finish and headed back to the hotel making sure we saved appetite for our next try.
For dinner we would try the most mentioned of pizzerias. I watched as they took dough, pounced it in flour and repeatedly stretched it in an almost abusive pattern. I was concerned as I was sure that the cornice was being eroded (the edge that puffs with extreme heat as moisture escapes.) We sat down as they prepared our pizza’s with attitude, talking on the cell phone as they slid the pies into the fiery inferno. They came out in textbook fashion and my hunch was correct, while the edge was fully cooked (almost a bit too charred leaving an acidic taste) it was tough with little cell structure. I was a bit disappointed. Traveling all the way to Italy, idealizing a pizza that had characteristics of perfection, but fell way short was very discouraging. I can see why this place has a line out the door though, as it is good pizza and cheap $5.20 for a 12″ pie. However, it did not reflect what I had come to expect and we did not finish it, determined to try again.
Beat down we went to the hotel, left the heavy camera bag and ventured out once again. This time our strategy was to wonder until we found a place on our own- without guide books. We sat down at an open air pizzeria and were craving a salad after all of the dough we had consumed. The place had a wood fired oven so I felt obligated to try once again. The margarita on the menu did not have buffalo mozzarella so I was a bit skeptical. The pizza that came out though was lovely and a big step up. Looking at the ovens I recognized the words “BRANDI” on them. It was then that I realized we had accidentally come across the restaurant that is responsible for the very first margarita pizza. Sorry no photos, left the camera in the hotel:(
Day 2, Lombardi Pizzeria
For lunch we sought out Lomardi’s, in part because it was close to the famous Archaeological museum in Naples (which was amazing.) Still a little full from eating all the wonderful street food for breakfast, we went in with very little appetite. We ordered a classic Arugula and Prosciutto pizza and a pizza with cherry tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella, and Buffalo ricotta. This finally was the pizza that I had come to expect. The crust had wonderful taste with nice cell structure. The cheeses were fantastic and were cooked perfectly, while the crust had a nice char that balanced taste, not overwhelmed it. I was full but continued to want to finish this fantastic pizza. What finished off this wonderful pizza was the pride that was present. The staff genuinely wanted to know that is was the best, where as some of the touristed pizzerias almost seemed not to care.
I think credit should go to Italy for the origin of pizza, however pizza would not be anything without those individuals across the globe who continue to be passionate about it. This passion can result in new creations or the mastering of old ones. I came to Italy expecting to validate or have a standard that I could gauge my progress on. Instead, I will take home a passion that I came here with. A passion to create a pizza with characteristics that will make people happy, and pause as they eat.