Have you ever eaten chilaquiles

The best pizza is not found in Naples

Neapolitans take great pride in the fact that, in their opinion, pizza comes from their city. This may be a somewhat shortened representation, but pizza is undeniably ubiquitous and an essential part of Neapolitan culinary culture. Last year I had several months to taste my way through here. What follows is a little guide to Naples' pizza culture - and some recommendations on where, in my opinion, the best pizzas in this pizza-rich city can be found.

This is supposed to be the start of a small city best-of series that will appear on my website and at this point in the coming months.

Naples' pizzerias are cited as role models around the world, but here they are quite different from anywhere else. It's a bit like Chinese food: each country has its own version, and they are all different from China. The first thing that sets it apart from other places is the price: the pizza is mostly dirt cheap. A Margherita to take away or folded so that you can eat it while walking is available here for one euro, in a restaurant it seldom costs more than five, and the most expensive creations only occasionally break the magical ten euro mark.

Here are three things that make Naples' pizza culture special:

1) Pizza in Naples is not only baked but also fried.

The pizza fritta is a very essential - some say: original, older - part of the offer of every pizzeria, and there are pubs and mobile market stalls that offer nothing else. A pizza fritta is mostly, but not always, a "ripiena" (that is, what we call calzone, folded and filled) and is somewhat reminiscent of a filled lango. Traditionally it is baked in lard, today, as almost everywhere, more oil is used. Grams and bacon, along with ricotta, are still one of the most popular fillings - reminiscent of the time when it was a quick meal for the city's hard-working poor.

In some cases it is not only filled and fried, but also topped and baked in the oven. My first pizza that I was ever allowed to eat in Naples was such a monster: filled with shrimp and ricotta, topped with tomatoes and more cheese. That was, to put it mildly, very filling, but still pretty awesome. I haven't ordered it since then.

2) In Naples, fried food is almost always eaten even before pizza.

Every Neapolitan pizzeria (actually almost every Neapolitan restaurant) has various fried snacks on the menu. I usually don't like fried food, but after a little trying I have to say: the Neapolitans can do it almost as well as the Japanese. The most popular are probably frittatine, deep-fried pasta balls with béchamel, occasionally filled with extra cheese or meat, pasta cresciuta, basically small pieces of fried pizza dough, salted and often seasoned with seaweed near the sea, arancinas, fried rice balls, or crocchette di patate, deep-fried potato croquettes .

The fritti should originally have been leftover rice or pasta from the day before, which were seasoned a little, shaped into balls, rolled in breadcrumbs (old bread) and recycled in hot lard - much like Asian fried rice or Mexican chilaquiles. This is why they are probably eaten in the morning: They are not just a pizza starter, but also the first salty snack that Neapolitans enjoy after their sweet breakfast, bridging the time between eleven and lunch, which is usually eaten at two becomes. As in Japan Tempura, fries are often served on a small piece of paper. If it hardly has any oil stains, it is a sign of quality.

3) Pizza is much more varied than anywhere else.

Sure, we also have seasonal offers and unusual creations, but the variance and diversity of the offer are significantly different in Naples. There are seasonal pizzas everywhere (in winter they are mainly topped with friarielli, the best of all cabbage vegetables, and maybe more another time), and each shop has its own signature creation. In contrast to other countries, strange-looking experiments usually succeed here - one of my favorite pizzerias, for example, fills the rim with ricotta, another offers great octopus pizza. So it pays off even for seasoned Margherita purists to make an exception here and order something a little more unusual.

Where?

In my opinion, the very best pizza in the world, a league above all others, is unfortunately not in Naples, but 45 minutes away by car in the small medieval village of Caiazzo. Franco Pepe has his there Pizzeria Pepe in Grani Unlocked, a pompous shop in an ancient stone house. Franco runs his own "pizza laboratory" and actually has his dough kneaded exclusively by hand. It is topped only with the best, often local ingredients, such as the famous Caiazzo olives. The result is, I can't put it another way, spectacular. A world of its own. Pizza like you've never eaten before.

A dough that is wonderfully crispy and at the same time cloudy and light, topped with ingenious, really well-balanced flavor combinations. If you do make the trip I strongly recommend the pizza tasting menu. That sounds affected, but it has the advantage that you can test a large number of pieces of different pizzas. And because they're served one at a time, your pizza will be hot to the last bite. Make a reservation, come early or wait a long time.

My number two is Because Attilio, a traditional company in downtown Naples. The house specialty are octagonal pizzas with ricotta on the tips of the pastry edge.

Those who like it a little quieter are in theCantina del Gallo wonderfully cared for. A cozy pub in the working-class Sanità district with very good pizzas (octopus!) And excellent fries - the rice balls with cheese are a dream.

And if you ever want to go to a pizza with your mother-in-law: Gorizia 1916 is an institution in the middle of the middle-class Vomero, the Währing of Naples. Very popular with the Neapolitans, but not yet tested by me: 50 Kallo in Mergellina.

Finally, a word of warning: the quality of the pizza in Naples seems to be in indirect proportion to the fame of the pizzeria abroad. In front of Naples' by far most famous pizzeria, Sorbillo, hundreds of (sic) people regularly queue, even in the rain, and that for a pizza that, in my opinion, is better to get in any pizzeria. The pizza in the also hyped Trei Santi is good, but certainly not better than at Attilio and definitely not worth the queue. And this knowledgeable lady also warns against Da Michele, which I haven't tried personally for years. In short: you better stay away from the famous shops. (Tobias Müller, March 17, 2019)

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