On my ever growing list of favorite cities, Napoli is always near the top. Being that this city is one of the oldest continually inhabited in the world, it is no surprise the wealth of history and tradition held here. Energy levels run high, no doubt fueled by the delightfully intense espresso being brewed at every turn. With it's frenetic, scooter riding population flying around, it can feel a bit overwhelming upon entering the maze of cobbled streets in the old quarter. Never fear, though, as Napoli is a traveler's dream and a budget oriented, food traveler's fantasy. Certainly, from a culinary standpoint, there is more to offer in beautiful Napoli than pizza. After a few weeks on the road and funding dwindling, you'd be hard pressed to find me eating anything but perfect, simple, tasty and cheap pizza napoletana. If you don't like pizza, what's wrong with you? Just kidding. But seriously, go to Napoli and eat a thousand pizzas, OK?
Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) is an accredidation and the presence of the above sign will indicate pizzas are prepared using only natural, unprocessed ingredients and baked in a wood-fired oven. However, this is a certification you pay for and many pizzerias without this plaque still follow the same standards and use the approved ingredients: '00' flour, san marzano tomatoes (only to be crushed by hand), bufala or fior di latte mozzarella from Campania, natural yeast, sea salt and fresh basil. The dough may not be mechanically manipulated in any way (no rolling pins!) and the pizzas themselves should bake in the wood oven for 90 seconds. Vera sign or not, this will be the best margherita pizza of your life!
Of the many, many pizzerias in town, and after much exhaustive research (you're welcome!) I still am partial to Pizzeria Di Matteo. Turning out delicious pizzas since 1936, this pizzeria made the most memorable pizza of my last trip to Napoli. On this trip, too, it was love at first bite! Especially if your first bite is of one of the insanely delicious arancino they sell out front on the street. So great, in fact, I had to devote my entire next post to fried friggitoria goodies. For now, we are talking pizza, and what could be better than that? Nothing really except maybe Falanghina and pizza together.