The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to family and friends regarding our recent voyage in search of perfect pizza. It was accompanied by pictures and is not written in Chowhound style, but I'm unwilling to do a new one and figure the info is there, despite it being a bit more personal than usual. So, enjoy (I hope).
Despite losing my wallet in Naples last year, it remains one of our favorite places. So as our time in Rome wound down Sandy became ever more desperate to get there--the siren's cry of pizza is particularly loud for Sandy, it is the equivalent of what most woman feel around their mid-thirties if they have not had children, but for Sandy, her biological clock screams mozzarella.
Soooo, on the Friday before our departure (which was early Sunday), we took the fast train to Naples and the adventure began. We arrived shortly after 11:00 AM and took the requisite long-way-around cab ride to the hotel to drop off our stuff. From there, we walked nearly all the way back to the train station (50 minute power walk) to hit our first Pizzeria--Di Matteo (it was where Bill Clinton had lunch when he visited Naples as President). We were both quite hungry so we had a hard time waiting for the pizzas to arrive. I eventually started chanting quietly "pizza, pizza, pizza"; but as when I was a child and would chant "here fishy, fishy, fishy" when I was fishing, it didn't seem to work. But finally, at around 1:20 we bit into the first of our pizzas--you will notice a chunk was missing before I remembered to snap a picture. The pizza was sublime--nearly as good as our favorite spot Da Michele. The restaurant is actually quite large, on two levels with several rooms, but from the street, all you see is a glass display case with a few items and in the rear of the small room, the pizza makers huddled around the oven.
Move forward a few pictures, or in our case about thirty feet down the road, and at 2:00 we were tucking into our second set of pizzas, this time at Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo. These were the only disappointing pizzas of the trip; though we both acknowledged that if we were served the same pizzas in the US we would have raved about them--but in the end it's all about the competition, and in Naples pizza competition is fierce. At this point, we had been in Naples for about three hours, hit two pizzerias and were ready for dessert, so we hit our favorite gelateria which is actually a branch of a Naples chocolatier's that has homemade gelato. Okay, we were officially now full, so we wound our way back towards our hotel stopping along the way to shop--Naples is really a good place to shop--sport coats for me, shoes (gee, go figure) for Sandy.
But we were not done; not by a long shot. At 8:45 we climbed into a cab and headed up to Pizzaria La Notizia owned and run by the very effervescent Enzo Coccia--where our cab driver noted with obvious concern for us, there was a line out the door and down the street. But, lucky for us, Sandy had called and for some reason he decided to accept a reservation from us, even though they don't take reservations. Maybe it was because his wife's maiden name is essentially the Italian version of ours. So we walked up past the line of people who assumed we were adding our name to the list, but instead were told to wait there at the front and we would be seated. Well besides the fact that Enzo took a clear liking to us, the experience was fantastic gastronomically. Unlike the other pizzerias, this was a place for a meal. So, good sports that we are, we ordered accordingly. We started with a Rottolino--essentially like a strudel in shape, but made of pizza dough filled with fresh ricotta and mozzarella, and a very large calzone filled with a giant salad, a little fresh mozzarella, and some anchovies (Jen we definitely thought of you). After that, we each ordered a pizza and they were as good as Da Michelle (or so close that nobody could pick a clear winner). Now most people would have quit by then, but we are not most people and we were doing research, so we then ordered two small calzones, one filled with liquid dark chocolate, and one filled with nutella--not the remnants on Sandy's face. All in all it was an incredible meal and we were stuffed like calzones ourselves by the time we were taken out front by Enzo--who grabbed someone who was waiting in line (yes, still a line after 11:00) and told the guy to take our picture.
We slept late the next morning since our train didn't leave until noon, but in case you are wondering why there are pictures of pizza following the parting shot at La Notizia, the answer is, of course, we had to stop at Da Michelle for one last pizza before we left. As always it was amazing and by the time we hit the train, we were in a virtual pizza coma.
Final score 3 great pizzerias, one average one. Total of 8 pizzas, one rottolino, one giant calzone, and two dessert calzones--that is more bread than we normally eat in a year.
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