The Ten Best Pizzerias in Naples, by Simona Piccinelli, our Italy Specialist
This year, I decided to celebrate the New Year with some amici in Naples and I bet them that we would discover the best pizzeria in Naples by eating nothing but pizza for our entire five day stay. I won the bet (thanks to Sant’Antonio Abate, the patron saint of bakers?), although I might have put on a few extra kilos New Year’s Eve was the only day when almost all pizzerias are closed and so we welcomed in 2009 in the beautiful Piazza Plebiscito and Castel dell’Ovo, watching spectacular fireworks, after a delicious seafood dinner.
Some notes from our Pizza Tour of Naples
“La Vera Pizza” of Naples has a few basic golden rules:
- it can only be cooked in wood burning brick ovens
- the crust has to be soft and light, that’s why the dough is made the day before it’s used, allowing the yeast to rise for at least 10/15 hours
- the pizzaiolo (pizza maker) must be a real maestro, the dough stretching technique is essential and you need at least 2/3 years of apprenticeship to become a pizzaiolo
- The pizzerias that make the traditional pizza “verace” are members of the Pizza Napoletana Association
We visited many many many pizzerias and now we can list our definitive 10 best pizzas in Naples :
1. Da Michele on Via Sersale, 13 – Tel +390815539204. Website here.
Let’s start with what some people may consider the inconveniences- the restaurant is rustic to say the least (almost spartan and very much “no frills”), no reservations are accepted, you always have to wait in line (we had 40 people before us!!) and they serve only 2 kinds of pizza. Nothing but the pizza margherita and pizza marinara here, using only fiordilatte cow´s milk and sweet , tantalizing San Marzano tomatoes. So why do we recommend this place? Because this is the best pizza in Naples in our opinion!!! Since 1870 the Condurros have been making pizzas for their hungry patrons, from tourists, to local Napoletani to VIPs (they are particularly proud they had the famous soccer player Maradona as an approving diner!)
2. Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente on Via Tribunali, 120/121Tel. +39081210903, web here.
Right in the heart of Spaccanapoli, the historic center of Naples, Signore Ernesto Cacialli welcomed us here with a huge smile. Pizzaiolo since the time he was 7 (!!!), Ernesto invited former US president Bill Clinton – who was in Naples for G8 – to taste his creations (back in 1994) and since then his pizzeria (the “president´s” pizzeria) was re-named in his honor. Buono!
3. Brandi on Salita S.Anna di Palazzo, 1- 2 (angolo via Chiaia)Tel +39081416928, website here.
Close to the elegant Chiaia neighbourhood and to Piazza Plebiscito, this is where the mythical “pizza margherita” was invented. Although pizzas have apparently been around in one form or another since Ancient Roman times, Raffaele Esposito is credited with creating the Margherita. He worked at this very pizzeria (established in 1780) and in 1889 he was asked to bake 3 different kinds of pizza for the royal visit of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Queen’s favorite was a pizza that had the colors of the Italian flag: basil leaves for green, mozzarella for white, and tomatoes for red. Named Pizza Margherita in her honor, this is how this pizza is still universally known . Brandi is one of the more elegant and atmopsheric pizzerias and offer many traditional Napoletano side dishes as well. While Italians tend to drink beer with pizza, they offer some nice Falanghina white wines and Aglianico based reds here as well.
4. Di Matteo (Via dei Tribunali, 94 – tel +39081455262)
Founded in 1936 by Salvatore Di Matteo, the pizzeria was then managed by the “scugnizzi pizzaioli” (street urchin pizzaioli kids, usually poor, going to school only when they had to and spending a lot of time hanging out in the narrow streets of Naples) that used to work for him. Today, it is run by Raffaele Marigliano, who 50 years ago created an amazing pizza con alici e cicinielli (anchovies and newborn very very little fish, not produced any more). Here you cannot miss the pizza fritta, a deep fried pizza with ricotta cheese, provola cheese, tomato sauce and sugna (lard). Heaven on earth!
5. Pizzeria Trianon da Ciro on Via P. Colletta, 46 Tel: +39.081.5539426 , see website.
Established in 1923, this is a BIG pizzeria, with 3 floors. Here you can find exquisite (made fresh daily) buffalo milk mozzarella as a topping as well as the full range of pizza toppings you normally expect. They have 29 in their list and their specialty is salsiccia (Italian sausage) and friarielli (a kind of sprouting broccoli that grows only in the countryside around Naples, see photo below). Recommended.
6. Sorbillo on via Tribunali, 32 tel. +39081.446643 Website here.
This is another pizza “temple” in the “centro storico” of Naples; run today by daughter Anna Sorbillo, a member of the 21st generation pizza making family. Sorbillo can also deliver to your home or hotel (in historic center of Naples) and you can order on line.
7. Da Ettore (Via S. Lucia, 56 – tel +39081 7640498)
Right on the seafront, facing the pretty Castel dell’Ovo marina/fortress on the elegant Santa Lucia boulevard (where politicians, actors and tourists frequent) the pizza here is truly excellent. But apart from pizza, they also excel in the “frittura all’italiana”, a sinfully delicious mix of deep fried aubergines (eggplant), zucchini, mozzarella, arancini (rice croquettes), cauliflower, potato croquettes, zeppulelle con alghe (salty doughnut-like fried thingie with seaweed).
8. Lombardi on via Foria, 12 tel +39081456220
Close to the FABULOUS archeological museum of Naples (with its fascinating Erotic room of Pompeii mosaics, and the Farnese collection), Pizzeria Lombardi was founded in the turn of the century by Enrico Lombardi who sold pizza in Brazil before setting up his pizzeria in Naples. Nowadays it is run by his grandsons Nando and Gigi. They offer also a variety of simple, perfectly executed dishes, but pizza is what you come for. Their specialty is pizza with smoked provola cheese. yummmmmmmmm.
9. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba (Via Port’Alba, 18 – tel +390814421061)
This is the oldest pizzeria in Naples and Italy. Founded in 1738 as seller of street food, it became a real pizzeria in 1830. Vincenzo Luciano is the 5th generation to run the business.
10. La Notizia on Via Caravaggio, 53-55 – tel +390817142155
Named after the movie (the owner Enzo Coccia loves “Citizen Kane”), this pizzeria opens for dinners only, allowing time for the yeast to create the perfect dough. A real treat is the pizza bianca – without tomatoes – with scarola salad, aubergines (eggplant) and provola cheese. It is not located in a touristy neighborhood, but it is absolutely worth going to the upper part of the town to reach it. Authentic Napoli.
If you will be Pizza touring in Naples, and want to try even more pizzerias beyond this list, you´ll find a mega list of Pizzerias all over Campania here.
Some handy info on Napoli-
WHEN TO GO – For major pizza lovers, Naples holds the annual Pizza festival in September (our favorite month to visit the beautiful Campania region anyway as the weather is still gorgeous and the summer crowds are gone). info on the festival here.
WHAT TO SEE/DO- Depending on how much time you have, “must visit” locations near Naples include: Positano, Ravello, Pompeii and Capri. Cetara (a real fishing village) , Vietri (hamlet specialized in beautiful ceramics), Paestum (3000 year old Greek temples) and the wine country of Campania are also highly recommended.