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Friday 2 April 2010

Naples: Friday Food Is Pizza!

Today brings a special Friday Food: something I haven’t had in the house for more than five years, and don’t intend to reintroduce in the near future. But Naples is the birthplace of pizza, and to experience it there is something else. It also underlines just how dreadful supermarket pizza, and much restaurant pizza, really is.

And it’s not expensive either, despite true Neapolitan pizza being subject to the strictest quality laws. The highest of standards, and lowest of prices, come together in Naples’ Centro Storico at the Antica Pizzeria Da Michele on Via C. Sersale: a middling size pizza and bottle of beer will set you back just six Euro.

The Da Michele serves only the two true Neapolitan pizza varieties: Marinara, with a topping of tomato, garlic, and oregano (note, no cheese) and Margarita, topped by tomato and mozzarella. You need to tuck in the moment the pizza arrives at your table to experience just how different and enjoyable the real thing can be – anything from the supermarket is like a cross between gloop and cardboard by comparison.

At lunchtime, Da Michele not only gets full, but there is routinely a queue outside. This is when most tourists arrive, as they are visiting from out of town. Evenings are easier, but you should still get there well before 2000 hours. Alternatively, there is the nearby alternative of Pizzeria Trianon on Via P. Colletta, where the pizza is almost as good, and there are more varieties, but they mark up the drinks rather more aggressively, and put a 15% service charge on top.

The Trianon fills up later in the evening than Da Michele, which tells you something about the locals’ favourite. Both attract tourists of an evening, the Stateside ones taking photos of every part of pizza preparation, marvelling especially at the little ol’ oven, as if there is something unusual about it. That, too, tells much about many folks’ knowledge of this simplest of foods – or their lack of it.

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