Cesare Casella is (rightfully) proud of Italian food, and continues to be so, albeit with a slightly...adjusted view of the big picture. "Italians have a deep cultural attachment to nourishing, delicious food, and not very much interest in junk food. Or at least, that is what I always thought."
'Italy' on Serious Eats
A few months ago, my wife and I spent all of 24 hours in Naples on our way home from Sicily. It was probably the second-most pizza-packed 24 hours of my life (the first being when I took my Colombian brother-in-law on a whirlwind pizza tour of New York). We hit over a half dozen pizzerias over lunch alone, and a few more for dinner. Here now, I present to you the Serious Eats guide to Eating Pizza in Naples.
Located just a few blocks away from Piazza Navona in the heart of Rome's centro—ie. tourist area—La Montecarlo doesn't feel like a tourist trap: no french fries on pizza, no bow-tied employee hawking tables to every passerby, and prices that are not inflated.
Roman-style pizza bianca is rich and spongy with olive oil, part of what makes it so irresistible. But what could make it better? I didn't know until I visited Abruzzo, where the answer became clear: pig bits and pig fat, baked right in.
Stefano Callegari, a pizza pioneer in Rome, owns several outstanding pizzerias and one pizza al taglio shop called 00100 PIZZA. The name refers to both the grade of flour, "00", used to make the dough and the zip code for Rome, "00100". Unlike the other pizza al taglio shops, this tiny place does several things differently.
I am not sure if it was the muted crunch that betrayed a crispness and airiness in the dough or the gasp of approval that left her lips as she finished the bite but I knew that something rather special was going on. I put down the camera and said "let me try that". What followed was a frenzied and orgiastic. We devoured all that lay before us. My camera was cast off like so many used napkins. Even Fashion Week and the need to look fabulously skinny was momentarily forgotten. The pizza at Pizzarium was quite simply extraordinary and completely irresistible.
The pizza here is vanishingly thin—a perfect example of the Roman style pie. It is crispy to a degree, especially around the outer circumference, but it warps and deforms under the torrent of cheese and sauce. The molten cheese swirls and churns on the top of the pie and appears like a stormy sea.
When I die I want a slice of pizza bianca from either Roscioli or de' Fiori put in my casket. One fresh out of the oven slice so that I know my first meal in the hereafter will be seriously delicious.
Ever wonder what the difference between pizza in Naples and Salerno, Italy, was? The always-opinionated Gianluca Rottura touches on it in this off-the-cuff review on SE pizza blog Slice.
With only two pizzas on offer at Pizzeria da Michele, the spartan ambiance was pure Neapolitan. I always thought I would like Da Michele but also had a feeling I would be underwhelmed. I love being wrong. The pizza I ate there was one of the best I have ever had.
[Photograph: Sony Pictures] Famed Naples pizzeria L'Antica Pizzeria Da Michele gets a star turn in the book-cum-movie Eat, Pray, Love, when Julia Roberts eats pizza there. Pizzeria Da Michele: Via Cesare Sersale 1, 80139, Naples, Italy (map); 081 5539204; damichele.net. [Photograph courtesy of Robert Sietsema] The scene is inspired from the following passage (after the jump) in Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling feel-good memoir....
It's the episode of Un'Americana in Italia we've all been waiting for. Here, the Americana herself, Sky Dylan-Robbins, visits Naples to talk about the spirituality of la pizza Napoletana.
Sky Dylan-Robbins, in her ongoing video series Un'Americana in Italia, has made her way to covering buffalo mozzarella. Says Pizzablogger, who tipped me to this episode, "Apparently water buffalo have been in Campagnia for at least 1,000 years."...
Wow. From an AFP report on France24.com: "Investigators in Naples are setting their sights on the thousands of small, lower-end pizza shops and bakeries that dot the city on suspicion that patrons may 'use wood from caskets to keep ovens burning.' Naples' graveyard has long been hunting ground for thieves: Last year, 5,000 flower pots were stolen from the cemetery."
That's what the Guardian asks about Pizzeria Anna: "It's not grand and far from showy, but this modest restaurant in a quiet seaside town south of Naples serves perhaps the best pizza in Italy."
"What's the foundation of Italy's greatest foods?" asks Sky Dylan-Robbins in her ongoing video series Un'Americana in Italia. The answer, of course, is la farina — the flour. Here, Dylan-Robbins visits the Caputo flour mill just outside of Naples. It's a fascinating look at how the well-known flour is made and packaged. [via Pizzablogger]
It's not really news that Neapolitan-style pizza has become huge in the U.S. What is news is that the Naples Tourism Bureau will be sponsoring/underwriting Serious Eat's pizza blog, Slice, for the next six months. What does that mean? Basically, all posts on Slice after this one will deal 100 percent with Neapolitan pizza—where to eat it, how to make it, etc. And also that all posts after this one will be written in Italian.
[Photograph: Eustaquio Santimano on Flickr] According to the Associated Press, some of Italy's famed buffalo mozzarella may actually be short on the milk of water buffalo. The agriculture minister there suspended the head of the buffalo-mozzarella-makers trade group. The ministry said about a quarter of the 530 samples of buffalo mozzarella tested by authorities over the course of last year showed traces of cow milk. Some samples were up to 30 percent cow milk, ministry spokesman Giampiero Beltotto. D'oh! Something to think about next time you're at a place that offers buffalo mozzarella on its pies at a premium....
Florence, Italy–based food writer and ur-American-in-Italy-Italian-food-expert Faith Willinger has named her three favorite pizzerias in Italy. Here's what she says ... Being passionate about pizza, I have decided to create the Unofficial Platinum Pizza Awards for the greatest pizzerias in Italy in three different categories--traditional, innovative, and by the slice. I've tasted all over the country. The winning pizzaioli are fanatical about pizza and share an obsession with quality flour, natural yeast, and lengthy rising, which results in a more flavorful and digestible crust. And we all know how important digestion is for Italians. And the winners of the Platinum...
Thought you all might want a little break from my recent ramblings. Here's a field report from Gianluca Rottura (who you might know round these parts as nextgospel). Enjoy! --The Mgmt. [Photographs: Gianluca Rottura] Unfortunately, I must make this article for Slice as short as possible. If there were no limits, I could write a book on my lunch at Pizzeria Starita. For those of you familiar with Kesté Pizza & Vino in New York City, the co-owner and pizzaiolo there, Roberto Caporuscio, perfected his skills at this Neapolitan landmark, which was featured in the Sophia Loren flick L'Oro di...