So enjoy a very long, but well written pizza blog from:
Brad C. Hodson
Naples, Italy is known for a few things. Its stunning views of the Amalfi Coast. Its Circumvesuviana that takes hordes of tourists every day to the ruins of Pompeii. Its history, dating all the way back through French and Spanish periods to the ancient Greek city of Neapolis. Its churches, old and resplendent, and filled with the blood and bones of saints. Its traffic, one of the most chaotic and uncomprehensible sights any traveller could ever be witness to. Its garbage, recently in the news. And, most importantly, its pizza.
We were very curious about the pizza in Naples. It's said, after all, that Naples is the birthplace of pizza. We had heard several stories about the pizza there- how it's simpler, yet more flavorful than any pizza we have here in the States. We had also heard how the garbage crisis (mostly cleaned up by the time we arrived) had spoiled the famous mozzarella di buffala cheese in the region and, by extension, possibly spoiling the pizza. But who could visit Naples and not try the local cuisine?
So we fought through the crowded streets of what could have been a third world country, dodging Vespas and attempting to speak to locals (who speak their own dialect- but that's another story altogether), eventually stumbling into our first pizzeria. The waiter, Giacomo, was an older man dressed in white who seemed quite content to sit in an empty establishment and read his paper. He sighed when we walked in, put out his cigarette, slammed two menus down, and walked away without a word.
Eventually Giacomo returned. In broken Italian, I proceeded to ask him a few things about the establishment. He was tight lipped, and kept replying with "Che volle?" The choices were limited- traditional Napolitano pizza only comes in two varieties, after all. There is the Marinara- which is simply olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes- and then there's the Margherita, named in honor of the late Queen of Italy, and topped with tomato sauce, basil, and mozzarella. I had the Marinara, my wife had the Margherita, and of course we shared. Both were good (and the brick oven crust was especially delicious) but I hadn't felt that we had seen the best of Naples' pizzas yet.
Then, the night before we left Napoli, we walked around the corner from our B&B to Pizzeria Miracoli. Marizio, who said that his family had owned and operated Pizzeria Miracoli for five generations, greeted me warmly as I entered. "Americano?" he asked. I said "si" and his eyes lit up. He spoke slowly so I could understand, and told me how he was going to show me what good pizza was really like. His menu was a little more extensive- he had 5 pizzas listed, though the extras were variations on the two classics. He made me a Margherita, and we came back a few hours later for a Margherita delle Tre Salume.
The crust was as delicious as ever. It's thin, and cripsy, and bursts with the full flavor of fresh dough- a treat for an American. I never realized how much better fresh dough tasted- most of what we eat here, even at gourmet restaurants, is frozen. Then came the toppings- Buon Sapore! The tomato sauce, he explained, was made that morning from tomatoes picked on his family farm. It literally burst with flavors- the fresh garlic, basil, and pepper sprinkled inside danced across the tongue and really accentuated the taste of the tomato. And the mozzarella was equally fantastic. I never knew what a delicious and pungent cheese mozzarella could be but, even with the bad yield this year, this was better than any cheese I had ever had in the States. Part of the problem here at home is that our dairy products are all pasteurized which, I found out while eating cheese in Italy, saps the flavor completely. If you've never had cheese in Europe, you don't know what you're missing.
The della Tre Salumi also had three meats topping it: salami, prosciutto, and something I could not pronounce no matter how much of it I ate. These, too, were magnificent. They were good cuts, bought from a butcher that afternoon. Succulent, moist, and rich with flavor, they would have been ridiculously expensive served on a plate. But on this pizza they were heavenly- and without the expensive price tag.
Which brings me to one of the best parts about the pizza: it cost 2 euro, or roughly 3 dollars. I kid you not. Absolutely amazing. This was for a 16 inch pizza.
The pizza in Naples spoiled me. I have yet to eat a pizza here at home that has thrilled me the way that Marizio's pizza did. I'm already planning my next trip. And who knows? Maybe I'll get more daring and try Marizio's Egg and Seafood Pizza.
Pizzeria Miracoli - Naples, Italy