A mere twenty four hours in Naples, Italy… This brief stopover on our way from Rome to Sorrento existed for a couple of reasons – to visit the Naples National Archaeological Museum in advance of visiting Pompeii a few days later, and for me to try as many pizzas as I could. I’m proud to say I managed to squeeze in four delicious pizzas, even if for one of them it meant creating a rarely used meal between lunch and dinner.
The first pizza of the visit was a proper street lunch at what many believe to be the world’s first ever pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba. Back in the mid 1700s this restaurant replaced street food stands and brought their wood fired pizzas out to the street to sell. Here I am taking my first bite of a Neapolitan pizza:
This was very good street food and perfect for a quick bite as we made our way to the archeological museum. Here’s a closer look at the pizza, folded for easy take away eating. This is about as well as you can eat for €2.00.
After our visit to the museum, it was time for a second pizza. In the historical centre of the city on Via dei Tribunali (where you can’t walk more than 100m without bumping into another wonderful pizzeria) we popped into Di Matteo. Their wood burning blue pizza oven is a fixture in the front of the restaurant. A pizza cooks in there in just a tad more than 60 seconds:
The pizza at Di Matteo was spectacular and ruined me for pizza back home forever. The edges of the pizza were crisp, and in the middle was this heavenly soupy mixture of cheese, sauce, oil and moist crust. I wasn’t planning on eating all of this, but I couldn’t help myself. This pizza was more than twice the size of my head and only cost €3.50. That photo on the right below is me pondering my first bite. I think when my wife snapped this I could hear angels singing:
Traditional Naples pizza isn’t friendly for celiacs. My wife, who has to eat gluten free, was a real champ on my first two pizzeria visits and watched me eat without complaint. She was rewarded when we found a place (Ciro a Santa Brigida) that did Neapolitan pizza on a gluten free crust. There are very strict rules governing what can be called a Neapolitan pizza, so this one wouldn’t cut it with the pizza authorities, but put a smile on my beautiful wife’s face as she got to partake with me:
The crust on her pizza was one of the better gluten free crusts she has ever had. It was great to see her experiencing a slice of Naples in a way we didn’t expect she might. I used the opportunity to try my third pizza of the trip and ordered another classic margherita pizza. Although this was my least favourite in Naples, it was still better than anything that goes by this name at home:
Waking up the next morning, I was so full I barely touched breakfast at our B&B. I was worried I would consider skipping lunch and my last opportunity at one more pizza. After a morning exploring San Martino, we made our way back to the centro storico as there was just enough time for one last meal before our train to Sorrento. There was a single table available at Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo – I made my order and in no time at all a mammoth pizza was placed in front of me. I did my best, but could only eat about 3/4 of it. It was another remarkable pizza.
That wrapped up pizza in Naples for me – four margherita pizzas in 24 hours. All slightly different, but each outstanding in their own way. On a final note, the photo below sums up the trooper that my wife is. When we travel, inevitably there’s something I want to eat that leaves her little to no option as a celiac. She’s a great sport, but my reactions to eating the pizzas made her a bit wistful for the days when we could share an experience like this. Here she is at Gino Sorbillo on that last afternoon in Naples, having only the ability to imagine what my pizza must have tasted like. I’m a very lucky man for her patience and sense of humour.