I have to be honest. My wife and I booked a recent trip to Naples so we could go and eat the best possible pizza for five straight days. It turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve made!
To quote the lifelong resident of Naples and director of our incredible Italian language school: “Naples is not just about food…” This is very, very true, but first of all let’s not ignore the obvious…
In Naples you will eat the absolute best, most authentic,
MOST DELICIOUS PIZZA IN THE WORLD!
I am not a food snob, or an expert by any means. Despite this, my time in Naples has officially ruined pizza back home for me. Everything that is great about pizza is dialled up to 11 here. The classic pizza Margherita shows off the very best of Italy’s primary, super-delicious ingredients. It’s impossible to find fault with simple food that tastes this good.
It can take years to learn how to make the perfect pizza and yet it only takes 90 seconds to cook. Mastering the simple ingredients is not easy. Unless you have access to the best quality, fresh, Italian ingredients, pizza is never going to taste as good as it does in Napoli!
Fresh, salty buffalo mozzarella
The Italian Mediterranean buffalo produces the best milk for the trademarked Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. You can order this official, protected cheese all over Naples. Share it as a perfect starter, or better yet, enjoy it on authentic Neapolitan pizza!
You may find the centre of pizzas in Naples a little ‘soggy’. This is especially true if you are used to American-style pizzas. However, the precise combination of the fresh salted water oozing out of the melted cheese, with the delicious sauce underneath, is what many consider the holy grail of pizza perfection. You may struggle to slice it up nicely, and may not be able eat it all by hand, but there will be no complaints once you’ve tasted it.
Umptious Italian tomato sauce
As a child I didn’t really enjoy eating tomatoes. After tasting the pizza sauce in Naples, I can’t imagine a future without them!
Traditionally, San Marzano tomatoes are used to make Neapolitan pizza sauce. The truly authentic ones are grown on the volcanic plains, just south of Mount Vesuvius.
Delicious and nutritious, juicy and sweet. The sauce I had on the several pizzas I gorged on in Naples was good enough to drink. We even enjoyed it cold with a ‘pocket-pizza’ we picked up on an excellent food tour. You could add this tomato sauce to practically anything and it would taste better.
The best pizza crust
The best pizza crust is not crusty or stuffed, it is chewy and beautifully blistered, charred yet not burnt. You just need flour, water, salt, and yeast, also known as ‘lean dough’, to make the best Neapolitan pizza dough. Easy then! The middle may be (deliciously) soggy when cooked, but the outer crust certainly isn’t.
Neapolitan pizza bases are easily good enough to eat on their own. Try saving some of the crust to wipe up the juices in the middle of your plate, or scoff down the chewy edges first. Whatever you do, don’t commit a tourist sin and neglect eating the delectable crust!
All topped off with fresh basil
It may appear to be needless decoration, but the addition of a few fresh, fragrant basil leaves helps cut through the chewy soggy goodness. There is a sweet and aromatic flavour that you may take for granted, or find quite surprising, depending on your palate.
Less is certainly more with authentic pizza toppings!
Some people say the red sauce, white cheese and green basil are there to make up the colours of the Italian flag. I believe that’s just a happy coincidence as no other combination of ingredients taste so perfect together!
Where to eat the best pizza in Naples?
First of all, you really need to sit down at a restaurant table to enjoy the very best pizza. You will almost certainly have to wait, but it’s absolutely worth it.
At the very top of our list for pizza in Naples (to the right of the picture above) is:
L’ Antica Pizzeria da Michele
Via Cesare Sersale, 1, 80139 Napoli NA, Italy
This is a local favourite, recommended by a foodie I know who comes from Naples. It is also listed in many other guides and websites and for good reason. Instead of taking the easy route via Corso Umberto 1, we found our way through the back streets. The first time we visited was on a Sunday and we were very hungry! So, we were left a little devastated when we saw that it was closed 🙁
Don’t try and go there on a Sunday!
We actually found a nearby restaurant and had a decent, tasty pizza. Little did we realise what magic we had missed. Luckily we were able to go back the very next day. We walked to the front of the queue and asked for our number: “trentadue” we were told, as we were briskly handed our number 32 ticket.
We had heard about stories of having to wait up to an hour or more. In reality it seemed to pass really quickly. It only took about 30 minutes the first time and just 20 minutes queuing the second time!
What does it taste like?
It is difficult to describe just how good this pizza tastes. What I can say is that having attempted to highlight why Neapolitan pizza is the best in the world (above) I spent the whole time thinking about the pizzas I ate at da Michele’s.
I will also be thinking about da Michele pizza for the rest of my life. It truly is that good. I ordered the Doppia Mozzarella and my wife went for Normale.
The first da Michele pizzas we had were exquisite. Juicy, chewy, salty and sweet. I don’t have enough of the right adjectives to properly describe them, but let’s just say they were heavenly. Mine was (deliciously) soggy in the middle – and even had a hole in it, but no complaints!
The tables in all pizzerias around Naples are a little cramped. It didn’t bother us though, as our neighbours were always friendly. We even got to know the Neapolitan couple sitting right next to us on our first visit to da Michele’s. They told us that they try and visit the place once a week. They were so keen to share the pizza perfection they ordered another round of pizzas for our table!
Five or six pizzas in four days
On our first visit to da Michele’s we sat right by the main pizza oven. It was then we also noticed the random picture of Julia Roberts…
I’ve never watched the film Eat Pray Love myself. Now I know that it featured this actual restaurant, I might have to see it for myself, despite the average reviews. You can see the scene from the movie here:
The absolute best (if there was any difference) pizza I had
from da Michele’s EVER can be seen in the small image at the top of this post. This also happened to be the forth one I had tried from da Michele’s. It was on our last day in Naples and it was perfect in every single way.
I can’t end this post without an honorable mention of Sorbillo’s. This is probably the most famous Pizzeria in Naples. Gino Sorbillo, the owner, is a bit of a local legend.
Via dei Tribunali, 32, 80138 Napoli NA, Italy
The queue was a little longer than da Michele’s. The whole restaurant also seemed a little busier, but that didn’t stop us going! I spent part of the 40 minutes in the queue reading this fascinating ny.eater.com article all about Gino. Whilst the service was a little better and the menu much longer, it didn’t quite match the absolute perfection of da Michele’s!
During our time in Naples we also tried the indulgent fried pizza and pocket pizza street food. Both excellent!
There is nothing wrong in going to Naples for the pizza. Just make sure you walk it all off. However, you should stay for so much more. As specific as this article is, in my next post I’ll explain why Naples is definitely not just about the food!
Finally, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about Naples in general or our Italian language school. I’ll also be very interested in swapping stories of your favourite Neapolitan pizza experience!