L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele

{ Naples, Italy - May 2011 }

Growing up in Malaysia, and then studying in Singapore and Australia, the pizza that I knew and grew up with were those American pizza with thick crust and lots of toppings. I was never really a fan. Soon, I discovered thin crust Italian pizza that I came to love. So, when in Naples, the birth place of pizza, what do you think is the must eat dish?

Pizza is probably the most popular and the best known creation of all Neapolitan cuisine. And the most popular pizzeria in Naples is arguably Da Michele. A small unassuming pizzeria, with no decorations except for the white and green tiles, that offers only two types of pizza - marinara (with tomato, garlic, and oregano) and margherita (with tomato, mozzarella, and basil). There must be a good reason why Da Michele still manages to attract long lines of customers after 140 years. And being featured in the book and the movie Eat, Pray, Love is not the reason.

The reasons are these...

When you are able to make something perfectly, why do you need to make anything else? The dough was fluffy, chewy and crunchy, with just the right amount of oven-burnt taste. There were no fancy toppings, but the tomato, the cheese and the herbs were so right together. It may sound like a cliché, but I have never thought that pizza can be so good.

We had a front seat view of the pizza making process. A boisterous man spread out the dough on a wooden shovel, put the ingredients on the dough and passed it on to another man who slid the shovel into the wood-fired oven, turning the pizza a few times, and voila - you have the world's best pizza. Well, so I have not tried the other pizzeria in Naples and I cannot honestly put that label in this small little pizzeria. But if it is not the world's best, it must come in a close second!

We were lucky to get to the pizzeria in the early afternoon before the lunch crowd. There were no queues and we were quickly shown to our seat, with the pizza served promptly. When we wanted to go to the pizzeria on the second evening, we were met with the huge crowd in front. But even if you have to wait for an hour, it will be worth it.

To quote from Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray Love, "Please go to this pizzeria. Order the margherita pizza with double mozzarella. If you do not eat this pizza when you are in Naples, please lie to me and tell me that you did."

::: Footnotes :::

Via Cesare Sersale 1
80139 Napoli
Phone +39 081.5539204
Closed on Sunday, and last 2 weeks in August
The pizzeria is off Corso Umberto, between Piazza Garibaldi and Piazza Amore

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