Honestly, I didn’t eat a lot of pizza in Italy. Not a lot. For starters, we spent a fair bit of time in Rome, and the majority of fast food, take-away style pizza in Rome were the rectangular, pre-cooked, somewhat doughy varieties. Often sold by the kilo, and reheated for you as you waited. I’m not sure if this style of pizza is actually Roman, or whether it’s a reaction to the sheer number of tourists that need a quick cheap feed. A sort of tourist driven, Subway/Taco Bell ‘give em what they expect’ approach. Wasn’t really my thang. Though I did rather take to the potato and rosemary variety, much to my surprise. I don’t usually hold with the whole 2 carbs together thing, but it seemed to work; there was a nice difference in texture between the potato and bread and it was enough to carry it off.
There’s a touch of competition between Rome and Naples as to who makes the best pizza. Though I spent less time in Naples, my pizza preference is, without hesitation – Naples. Our travels through the centro storico (old town) were perfumed by the numerous buy-it-from-the-front-window-and-run pizza joints, and they were all – that I could see – wood fired. Some of them may not have been wood fired specifically for me, and one or two looked as if they may have been on display for a little while, but they weren’t the doughy rectangles cut from a huge tray of pizza. These were round. Individual. Thin, crispy. Good.
According to Lonely Planet, the place to go for serious wood fired pizza in Naples is Sorbillo. Since it was on our way to the Museum of Antiquities, and it was lunchtime (not that I need an excuse), it was a no brainer. And so it was we found ourselves goggling at the 2 man team just inside the door; one throwing dough around, the other stoking a rather impressive looking oven. Appropriately enough the doughboy was….a little larger than normal, whilst Mr Stoker was skinny as. No doubt all that constant sweating in that heat.
God alone knows what it’s like when it’s 40 degrees outside – we were blessed with pretty mild weather – but it was pretty warm in the cafe out the back. Worth it though – we scarfed down our chargrill-y, crisp and lush pizzas in double quick time, and, despite them being about the size of an occasional table, started eyeing up those on the table next door. They’d gone for pizza without tomato sauce – of which there was a whole range – traditional apparently but a step too far for me. And it’s true: in Naples, a marinara doesn’t have any seafood. It’s just tomatoes, herbs and garlic.
While in Sorrento though we stumbled across the ultimate tourist fast food; even more impressively ghastly than doughy pizza squares, I give you: the sausage and chip pizza!
The waiter was inordinately proud of this abomination and even straightened his collar in preparation for that shot. On questioning, they admitted these were popular with the Brits. My God, the shame.