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!
Mozzarella di Bufala pizza – with mozzarella so fresh it was milky!
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!
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?”
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.
Arancini rice balls – and crocchè - mashed potato crocchette rolled in breadcrumbs and fried – you can’t eat this cheap anywhere else!
Fried pasta – Frittatina
Small (but not that small) marinara pizza for just 1 euro
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