Shannon Wolf | October 17, 2015 11:00 PM ET
Naples: Search For the Best Pizza
PHOTO: Even after a half an hour wait to get a pizza, Sorbillo’s was the Holy Grail, the perfect pie. (photos by Shannon Wolf)
If there’s one thing to know about me, it’s that I’m a pizza-oholic. Seriously — I came to Italy for three reasons: the landscape, the wine but mostly the food.
My not-so-secret love affair with pizza started in 2011 when I stumbled upon a small, tucked away pizzeria in the tiny village of Menaggio, Italy. From that moment on, I made an oath to myself that I would make it down to Naples, the birthplace of pizza to find the best pizzeria of all. And boy, was I ready for my overindulgence of oozing cheese, soft yet crispy, thin bread and a sweetly blended tomato sauce.
The goal: Find the best pie among the top rated pizzerias all in one day. Eating my way through Naples’ sit down restaurants and the street-za devouring the famous Margherita D.O.C, Marinara, specialty and fried pies using the two Italian techniques to eating pizza: the quad-fold and (god forbid) with a fork and knife.
The result: My eyes are clearly much bigger than my stomach. One day was not enough… So, I made the executive decision to move to Naples for a week after living in Florence to find the best pizzeria in town!
After plenty of research and talking to pizza loving locals, I narrowed my extremely long list down to the 4 best pizzerias in Naples:
• L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele
• Pizzeria La Notizia
• Pizzeria Di Matteo
I thought that the mass consumption per-day would be the most challenging. I was wrong. Choosing the winner was the hardest. Each pizzeria had its charm and its downfall but there were two that stood above the rest: Sorbillo’s and Pizzeria La Notizia.
Pizzeria Di Matteo
PHOTO: First stop: the famous Pizzeria Di Matteo where Bill Clinton visited. Fried pizza has never tasted so good!
My first pizzeria in Naples should have been mind blowing but left us questioning what all the pizza-fuss was about at Di Matteo. Not only were the pizzas bland, but the staff were uninviting.
The good part? We did find one pizza out of the five we tried that was actually worth writing about, Pizza Esseniza: Fried pizza stuffed with provolone cheese, fresh tomato and basil. It won the Primo Pesto Pizza World Cup in 2013 and there is no doubt that they deserved it. The ingredients were like mouth fireworks: fresh and bursting with flavor, working great with the deep-fried feel.
(Note: Do yourself a favor and forgo the Margherita, Marinara and anything involving their mushrooms, which disappointingly are canned, not fresh.)
L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele
PHOTO: The line formed in a blink of an eye once the clock struck noon. All waiting in line for the famous Margherita D.O.P. and Pizza Marinara.
Given all of its hype after it was written about in “Eat, Pray, Love” — I couldn’t help but wander over to this famous pizzeria to see if it held true. Again, the staff seemed more interested in turning tables than taking care of their guests, but I’ll give it to them — The Margherita D.O.C and Pizza Marinara came quick and the sauce was sweet with perfect spotting on the bottom of the pie. It’s a far fetch from “the world’s best pizza” but definitely tasty and cheap!
Like Goldilocks and the three bears, Sorbillo’s was my third pizzeria and I’m pretty sure I hit the jackpot. I walked in with staff smiling and asked the waiter to pick his favorite, since I couldn’t read the Italian menu.
Within minutes, he brought out a gigantic pizza, overflowing from the plate, filling the air around me with the fresh scent of pesto and cheese.
On my first bite, I died instantly.
My eyes bulged. I looked around in disbelief and I wanted to stand up and yell “IS THIS FOR REAL?! OH MY GOD!” but instead I just sat there, staring at my pizza in all its glory. The pizza I ate was called Pesto di Basilico. A pesto pie with fresh Cherry Tomatoes, Provolone smoked mixed Milk buffala and basil.
Pizzeria La Notizia: Best “Margherita D.O.P”
PHOTO: You can tell from the way La Notizia crafted their pie that it was made with love and pride: creating the best Margherita D.O.P. Jasmine and I ever had!
There’s one thing to be said about the simplicity of pizza and the art of mastering it. My friend Jasmine and I sampled three of La Notizia’s pies: A specialty vegetarian pie made of Buffalo mozzarella, grated caciocavallo podolico cheese, “funghetto” eggplants, green peppers, semi-dried cherry tomatoes, green beans and basil.
The second pie was a beautifully crafted anchovy pizza with yellow piennolo tomatoes, oregano, black olives, minced parsley, basil, garlic and a special orange-infused olive oil from the Amalfi Coast but the real winner was their classic Margherita D.O.P consisting of San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, grated pecorino cheese, basil and extra virgin olive oil. There is no way to express how our worlds were altered after taking that first bite. We took a voice memo of our experience for writing purposes and if you could hear our voices, the quiet, the laughing and the constant “OH. MY. GOD. WHAT. IS. THIS. EUPHORIA.” You would say that’s proof enough.
(Also known as “pizza-on-the-go.”)
I tried a few from various vendors such as Di Matteo, Sorbillio’s and other lesser-known pizzerias. I did the standard “quad fold” — where your pizza is folded in half once, and then folded again and I also ate them straight out of the box.
If you want the honest truth, every shop was disappointing regardless of the time or day — even the reputable ones. Stick to sit-down to get the full quality and full experience.
In the end, it had been decided that winning needed to be split into two categories: Classic Pizza and Specialty Pizza.
I have eaten enough pizza to last a lifetime and if you want the best specialty pizza, head to Sorbillo’s who won hands down for their mind-blowing flavors and La Notizia for its classic and perfectly executed Margherita D.O.P.!
More by Shannon Wolf
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