In any corner of this effervescent city, you are always just around the corner from the crackling wood of a pizza oven and the delicious aroma of freshly baked pizza. Naples is known as the spiritual home to pizza and we were out to satiate our taste buds with the world’s best pies.
In her wildly popular memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert visits the Pizzeria da Michele. And, after ambling through the heart of Naples, this was to be our destination for lunch. We took a couple of wrong turns until finally stumbling upon the restaurant’s rather bland storefront. And we discovered that half the city had the same idea. (We later found out it was a holiday, hence all of the hand-holding twenty-somethings in search of a late lunch). With 12,000 pizzerias in Naples, it is no wonder that any popular pizzeria always has a line flowing out into the street.
Following some intense back and forth deliberation, we realized that it just wasn’t worth waiting for two hours for a piece of famous pizza from da Michele so we walked across Via Cesare Falcone and found a pizza parlor across the street. We were welcomed with warm smiles and hearty hellos. The room was heavy with rich, salty smells of fresh yeast, baking bread and roasting vegetables. Heaven. Pure heaven.
After sitting down, we were presented with a menu of pizza options. Every vegetable and meat combination was available but we settled for the sweet and simple – the Margherita. Two of them. One entire pizza for each of us. I will worry about calories tomorrow.
The Margherita Pizza: Dressed simply with sauce and mozzarella, a classic Naples’ pizza is a marriage of charred crust, soft cheese and fresh basil. The simple, no fuss Margherita was named after the Queen Margherita di Savoia, and a proper margherita must have mozzarella “from the southern Apennines,” and be served with only locally grown tomatoes and a leaf of basil.
A true Neapolitan pizza is recognized by the European Union as a copyrighted traditional specialty. And for good reason. The pizza was absolutely amazing and ‘oh’ so difficult to describe. Thin crispy crust, melty cheese and an explosion of salty flavor on the palate. Dripping sauce and savory, herbal yumminess. In the word’s of Elizabeth Gilbert, “I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair.”