If you want to start a fight in Naples, ask to have pineapple on your pizza. Or egg. Or even olives, or anchovies. Neopolitans feel very strongly about pizza – after all they invented it – and a true pizza only has tomato, mozzarella and a few leaves of basil. And it must be cooked in a wood-fired oven. This is the Pizza Margherita, which the pizzeria Brandi – the oldest in Naples established in 1780 – claims to have invented in 1889 for Queen Margherita.
Each year a competition is held judging the best pizza in Naples. Here are five of those which end up on the list year in year out: they’re worth travelling that extra mile for, and even waiting in line.
1. Pizzeria Da Michele, via Cesare Sersale 3. This is the one made famous by Eat, Pray, Love. There was always a queue outside because it’s been famous for a while but Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Roberts have doubled that waiting time.
2. Pizzeria De Matteo, via Tribunale 94. Founded in 1936, they have the wood-fired oven and the traditional Margherita using local tomatoes as tradition demands but they also break the rules a little. Try Pizza Fritta – deep fried pizza with lots of cheeses and tomato.
3. Brandi, Salita San Anna di Palazzo 1-2. As well as inventing the Margherita – which of course is in the colors of the Italian flag! – they are one of the most atmospheric and elegant and have many traditional side dishes to offer as well as pizza.
4. Pizzeria Pellone, va Nazionale 53. This one has been on the list of winners in the Annual Naples Pizza Championships for years, verging on decades. That’s got to be a good recommendation.
5. Pizzeria Cafasso, Via Giulio Cesare 156. Also always making the annual championship list, this pizzeria was established in 1953 and is now run by three generations of one family of pizza makers.
In Italy pizza-making is not a job, it’s a calling. An apprentice can spend two or three years just learning to make the dough. Enjoy the art on your plate – or make it yourself during a pizza lesson in Naples!