This is the fourth post in a series about my recent trip to Italy.
The American pizza scene is veering sharply toward Naples, with wood-fired brick ovens at the back of every pizzeria and San Marzano tomatoes pouring out of every kitchen. Just about every major city has welcomed the Neapolitan invasion with open stomachs, but what’s happening right now in pizza Mecca? In between visits to flour mills and buffalo farms last month, I managed to hit some of the most noteworthy spots in town.
Any pizza tourist knows that a bit of research is necessary so you don’t trek all the way to a remote pizzeria only to find that they’re closed for the day. The list below includes the most up-to-date information possible. Keep in mind that almost all restaurants close between lunch and dinner service, even if I haven’t listed specific hours.
Here are my thoughts on six pizzerias worth the airfare:
Largo Arso 10/16
Open 1 - 3, 7 - midnight
Salvo proves that you can have a beautiful Neapolitan pizza without the dreaded soggy center that plagues most examples of the style. The tomato is bright and sweet with an absolutely intoxicating aroma. The dough rises at room temperature for 8 - 12 hours and there’s flour coating all the decorations on top of the oven. This pizzeria may not be centrally located, but it’s well worth the 8km drive. Just save room for a stop at Pasticceria Sirica around the corner.
Via Materdei, 27
Antonio Starita runs the show at Pizzeria Starita and I couldn’t be happier about it. His protege, Roberto Caporuscio, is the man behind one of my favorite NYC Neapolitan joints, Keste, in the West Village. The pizzas are rustic and full of blemishes with an almost creamy tomato component. Starita was used as a location for Sophia Loren’s famous pizza flick “L’oro di Napoli,” or “The Gold of Naples.” The movie title aptly describes this sublime pizzeria, located just around the corner from Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (archaeological museum).
Via dei Tribunali, 32
Open Noon - 2:30, 7 - 11
There was a huge line ever time I walked passed Sorbillo so I can safely say this was the “it” pizzeria during our stay in town. Gino Sorbillo comes from a long line of pizza makers and he carries the torch with great pride. His pizza Margherita boasts a chewy crust topped with fruity tomato and creamy mozzarella with a rare post-oven basil on top. Sorbillo is located along the main drag of Via Tribunali along with several other incredible pizza options.
Via Nazionale 93
Although it was the last pizzeria we visited in Naples, Pellone was without a doubt one of the best. Every pizza was well-baked and well-dressed, especially the ginormous calzone. One of my favorite topping combos is the sausage and broccoli rabe, pictured below. It’s a terrific crossover of sweet and bitter. The beauty of this spot is that it’s located a few short blocks North of the train station, so it’s perfect for the commuter!
Via Marc’antonio, 31
Open 1 - 3, 7 - midnight
CLOSED WEDNESDAY and SUNDAY DINNER
Here’s another pizzeria that’s located about 4km outside the center of Naples but well worth the journey. It’s also worth celebrating because the crust is unbelievably light and airy. One can get lost in the swirling creaminess that happens when cheese meets tomato. It’s a solid combination that once again resists the Neapolitan tendency to get too soggy in the center.
Via dei Tribunali, 94
Open 9am - midnight (no lunch break)
Just looking at this photo makes me think of the rich, creamy mozzarella paired with sweetly acidic tomatoes and bold olive oil. It’s a classic Margherita pizza with no pretension, served in a space that makes no attempt to cloud the true reason for your visit. Like most pizzerias in Naples, Di Matteo serves fried foods like arancini and crocche but the pizza deserves center stage. This is the only pizzeria on this list that I have visited on two separate trips to Naples. The pizza was great in 2009 but this revisit solidified Di Matteo in my heart forever.