Pizza in Naples: The Best in the World? Napoletana Pizza at Di Matteo Pizzeria

November 6th, 2009 · Tags: Discovering Food · Italy · Naples & Campania

A few weeks ago, when I went to the Naples area to visit family, I made sure we spent a few hours in the center of Naples looking at presepe, saints, and of course, eating delicious napoletana pizza.

I’ll try not to turn this post into a rant, but I think we need to spend some time thinking about what pushes us to find the “best” of things in the world – the best pizza, the best gelato, the best cuisine? I think the last category is one that worries me the most and a discussion I encounter often living in Italy. Italians are rightly proud of their cuisine, and my ex-students often cited it as their favorite cuisine.

But often they extended it to the best cuisine in the world. This is not an attack against Italians in any way (it’s obviously not only thought or vocalized by them or just in this country), but a discussion on the need to classify, exclude or diminish the greatness of other cuisines in the world.

Best, traditional, favorite.

I personally try not to say one cuisine is better than other. I love many cuisines – Italian, Indian, Thai, Mexican, Chinese - how can you choose? And do you have to? And though I’ve traveled quite a bit (24 countries and counting) how do you judge a cuisine? By what you’re exposed to in your own country? by eating what natives cook for you? by visiting the country directly and experiencing?

I think this is the spirit with which I face “the best pizza” which is considered by many to be Napoletana pizza (sorry to pick on you, poor pizza). The birth of pizza is often attributed to Naples and it’s with a great deal of pride that Napoletana pizza is searched, consumed, and lauded. And they have a right to! It’s very very good.

Is saying American/NY pizza, very thin Roman pizza (and pizza bianca!!!) or deep dish Chicago pizzas are also very good diminish the greatness that is Napoletana pizza?

I personally don’t think so. But what do you think?

On to the napoletana pizza. We couldn’t pick a better place to start than Di Matteo pizzeria in the heart of Spaccanapoli.

My favorite pizza – in this perhaps I’m quite American – I love “pepperoni” pizza – in Italy salame piccante, please – and the hotter, the better. I even add hot oil if it’s not hot enough. They call it the “Devil” pizza – Diavola Pizza and this one was very spicy and (it was so hot, and delicious!) Look at those hot pepper – peperoncino flakes!

Diavola - Hot Salame Napoletana Pizza from Di Matteo, Naples

Mozzarella di Bufala pizza – with mozzarella so fresh it was milky!

Mozzarella di Bufala Napoletana Pizza from Di Matteo Pizzeria, Naples

Here is the real attraction in Naples: the prices. Napoletana pizza is ridiculously cheap, even when compared to Milan – a Margherita will cost you double what you see below – 3 euro! Here, the price list at Di Matteo Pizzeria – a Marinara pizza for 2 euros, 50 cents!!! Tonight, we dine like kings!

Unbelievable Prices at from Di Matteo Pizzeria, Naples

If you’ve never had a fried pizza, at least one in your party should order it, just so you can have this enormous fried, steaming dough arrive at your table and you can then say to yourself, “How on earth do I start eating this?”

Hot and Fresh Fried Pizza from Di Matteo Pizzeria, Naples

You don’t have to go inside Di Matteo to eat – there are numerous wonderful fried things available outside, too, and that’s the friggitoria part of the Di Matteo pizzeria.

Fried pizza eventually comes down, and is still very very delicious. Here are some smaller ones for just one euro. Forget the Euro menu at McDonald’s – this is where you can really stretch your euros.

Fried Pizza from Di Matteo Pizzeria, Naples

Arancini rice balls – and crocchè - mashed potato crocchette rolled in breadcrumbs and fried – you can’t eat this cheap anywhere else!

Rice Ball Arancini and Potato Crocchette from Di Matteo Pizzeria, Naples

Fried pasta – Frittatina

Fried Pasta from Di Matteo Pizzeria, Naples

Small (but not that small) marinara pizza for just 1 euro

Small Fresh Pizzas for 1 euro from Di Matteo Pizzeria, Naples

We ate way, way too much at Di Matteo – first while waiting outside and snacking on fried treats, then inside with our own pizzas and more fried treats. But it’s a wonderful problem to have.

Perhaps even the best.

Di Matteo Pizzeria
via dei Tribunali, 94, Naples

Recently Nicole from deliciousdays was in Naples and at Di Matteo, too! Check her pictures: Headed south – Naples

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15 Comments

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  • 1
    Michelle // Nov 6, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I too think it’s funny when Italians (or the French or whoever) says they have the best cuisine as if it is just a known fact. I do have to say, though, that I personally think pizza from Naples is consistently much, much better than the pizza you get in your average Italian corner pizzeria. When I first moved to Italy I was horrified to discover that I HATED the pizza. I later realized that I actually hated the really thin pizza you find in Milan at your typical corner pizzeria that uses canned sauce and toppings. This could also be because I don’t eat cheese and therefore if there is barely a crust, bland sauce and veggie toppings that aren’t fresh, I may as well be eating a Saltine with tomato paste on top. Perhaps if it was drowned in good mozzarella, it’d taste better. Anyway, I find that when you go to real Neapolitan pizzerias, all of the ingredients seem to be fresh and properly seasoned. I pretty much only get pizza here in Milan from a handful of Neapolitan pizzerias (Piccola Ischia, Il Tegamino or even Rosso Pomodoro). Otherwise I avoid it. Or if I am invited out to one of those pizzerias with the thin cracker crust and canned sauce/toppings, I order pasta.

  • 2
    Ms. Adventures in Italy // Nov 6, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Yes, unfortunately I think the average pizza in Milan is not very good, though unfortunately I seem to be getting used to it (and lowering my expectations). I miss pizza a taglio (in Rome) perhaps the most – a little slice here, a little slice there of some interesting flavor is the best!

  • 3
    Michelle // Nov 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I too like pizza a taglio in Rome especially when there are lots of interesting toppings! Or thick-crust slices (there’s a pretty good place between your office and the various Japanese restaurants, btw, but it’s better for take away because the place itself has 0 ambiance).

  • 4
    StuffCooksWant // Nov 6, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I will file the name of this pizza place in my “When I go to Italy” list. I will get back there soon, hopefully, as I have tons more exploring to do! Am always looking for the “best” pizza or other cuisine and often the tourist spots are not the best anything. Thanks so much for sharing.

    And now, I’m hungry for pizza. With fresh mozzarella.

  • 5
    Amy // Nov 6, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    I thought the pizza at Trianon was the best I ever ate. Almost ethereal, light and puffy but also chewy. I took videos of them making it.

  • 6
    Sonia Piacente // Nov 6, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I’m craving pizza now! Carlo and I want to go to Naples in January to visit his family. If we do go.. I’m going to put Di Matteo Pizzeria on my list! I’m trying my best to find the “best” pizza in Torino.. so far I’ve got a great list going!

  • 7
    Happy Cook // Nov 6, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    We were in Naples in August and i have to admit i did eat there the best Napoletana pizza untill we went to Sorrento and there in this simple pizza place ( they served them in metal square pans and served the drinks in plastic cups) had the best ever pizza i have ever had in my life.
    In one of the places in Naples i ate this fried pizza dough which i thought was so so delicous too.

  • 8
    ed // Nov 6, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I’ve had a few pizzas in Napoli and I gotta say I’m a Da Michele guy. The beauty in the simplicity.

  • 9
    Barbara // Nov 7, 2009 at 12:24 am

    As the wife of a psychiatrist, I might add that when people say something is ‘the best’ they are really masking a terrible insecurity on their part. So the question then becomes whether to indulge the momentary plea to ‘greatness’ or not…

    In the case of Naples… well… Since I live here:

    Naples CREATED the pizza. And you must also visit the albeit more pricey BRANDI Pizzeria that purports to be the oldest pizzeria in Naples, established in 1780! Go and eat the best pizza in the world! :)

    Another wonderful post. Thanks.

  • 10
    The Food Hunter // Nov 7, 2009 at 1:39 am

    I was in Naples in September and tried the pizza. It was delicious.

  • 11
    janie // Nov 8, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Great post-I grew up eating fried pizza-my grandparents came from a small town in the Avellino province of Campania. I love it-we topped it with marinara sauce and grated romano.

  • 12
    marina // Nov 8, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    The pizza of Michele in Via dei Tribunali is also good and what impressed most is the semplicity of the restaurant : simple tables with white marbles , simple fork and knife,simple pizza in a big disch , simple people ,simple joy to be in a place that reechoes a simple past ….that of Michele’s family
    marina de martino naples

  • 13
    greta // Nov 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Living in Napoli, I look at it as a challenge to eat as much pizza as I possibly can. Is the best? I never thought about it that way. I love many different types of pizza, each for their uniqueness, but I do think I enjoy Naples pizza the most. Marinara con funghi per me!

  • 14
    S Lloyd // Feb 15, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Anything close to this, in Milan (for ie, piuzzas and arrancinis as good as those at almost the same $$$).
    I know I am pushing a bit here since Naples is the place for such, but I’d like to know if anything comes close to this in Milan

  • 15
    flapane // Nov 30, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    @S Lloyd
    Just a few days ago I’ve read that Sorbillo is opening its new Milan branch near the Duomo.

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