I am a die-hard pizza fan. A pizza monster. A pizza fiend. I won’t eat it cold, but I could eat it every day if I could. But only if it’s good. And what is good? The authentic Napoli pizzas are the best: thin, crispy yet chewy bases topped with fresh ingredients, a flavoursome tomato sauce (unless you’re going for a bianco), and just the right amount of cheese – too much and it becomes a cloying, heavy mess. I personally love the crusts; it’s the chewy treat at the end of a slice, and if it’s good enough I won’t even need a sauce to dip it in.
I search out the best pizzas at home in London, and when I’m travelling I’ll hunt it down. When I visited the home of pizza, Naples, I paid homage by visiting the most lauded pizzerias in the town. Three nights: three pizza places. I generally order the classic bufala margherita as a litmus test of how good the place is: get this right, and the other pizzas should be good, too.
I mention these in my travelogue blog posts on Naples, but for ease here are the results on the best pizza in the city:
1) Sorbillo (Via dei Tribunali 32, Naples)
This is generally recognised as the best pizza in Naples, and with good reason: my bufala marguerita arrived piping hot, the flavoursome toppings nestled on a fluffy, pillow-soft base. It was massive but light, and I devoured all of mine. This place also has more creative toppings, all reasonably priced (compared to London, although this place is considered to be more expensive than the other pizzerias in Naples) – my pizza cost 8 Euro.
- Arrive when the restaurant opens at 7pm to get a table quickly. By 8pm there will be a crowd outside and you’ll have to wait.
- There are two Sorbillo restaurants a few doors away from each other on Via dei Tribunali. The one you want is number 32, with a wooden frontage (see photo). The other one is also owned by the Sorbillo family, but it just doesn’t seem to have the same atmosphere or popularity: while no. 32 was packed, its blue-and-white sister branch was quiet and empty.
2) L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele (Via Cesare Sersale, 1, Naples)
This old-school pizzeria is a Napoli institution. It’s just off Via Corso Umberto I, and doesn’t look like much both outside or in. Service is swift: I placed my order as I was sitting down, because you have only two pizzas to choose from, margherita or marinara. I chose the former (5 Euro), and it was of epic proportions, falling off the sides of the plate and dwarfing the utensils. What I loved most about this pizza (apart from the size) was the base: it was perfectly crisp and chewy, and the oven had imparted a smokiness which was just heavenly. This was my second favourite, and again I’m glad I arrived early: I had to wade through a small crowd when I left after my meal, about an hour later.
3) Di Matteo (Via dei Tribunali 94, Naples)
Another old-school Napoli institution, and located on the same street as Sorbillo in the heart of the Centro Storico. I was seated easily at around 8pm, and ordered a margherita (5 Euro). Note that they don’t do half-half toppings. This is a no-frills place, and I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my favourite. It was a decent pizza but not in the same league as the other two – and the absence of a crowd waiting to be seated as I left was perhaps a reflection of this.