Neapolitan pizza originated in Naples in the late 1800s. The classic pizza is made up of the simplest ingredients – tomato, mozzarella cheese and basil. One of the most famous pizzerias in Naples is L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele. The pizzeria was founded in 1870 and gained popularity especially after Julia Roberts had a slice of pizza there, in the film ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. Such star power has resulted in long lines at L’Antica Pizzeria especially during peak hours. For a pizzeria with only two items on the menu, one may wonder: is L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples worth visiting?
Is L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples worth visiting?
We visited L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples in late January this year. We arrived at the pizzeria at about 2pm in the afternoon. Thankfully, the line wasn’t too daunting. We got a number and waited outside the pizzeria for about 15 minutes before our number was called. It was a pretty relaxed neighbourhood and noticeably cleaner than other streets in Naples.
As mentioned earlier, there are only two items on L’Antica’s menu: Pizza Margherita which comes with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and Pizza Marinara which is made up of tomatoes, oregano and garlic. S and I both ordered Pizza Margherita, because a pizza doesn’t seem as complete without cheese =).
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele has been run by the Condurro family since 1870. Since then, the restaurant has been run by five generations of pizza chefs. The Condurro family wanted to stay true to Neapolitan pizza flavours, hence the menu only revolved around “Marinara” and “Margherita” pizzas.
Fun facts about Neapolitan pizza
Did you know that the origins of New York-style pizza is Neapolitan pizza? The pizza was brought to the US by Italian immigrants in the 20th century. According to Wikipedia, Neapolitan pizza has to be made with either San Marzano tomatoes or Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio tomatoes which grow on the volcanic plains near Mount Vesuvius. Traditionally, mozzarella cheese is made from water buffalo milk from Naples’ Agerola commune. The art of making Neapolitan pizza has also been recognised as part of UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.
We placed our orders and the pizzas were served to us within five minutes. I recalled it to be extremely affordable. A normal-sized pizza was priced at about €4.50, which was quite a steal given the size! The dining area was no-frills, made up of marble-top tables and wooden stools.
The biggest highlight of L’Antica’s pizza is probably its pizza dough. One way to tell how good the dough is is from observing leopard-spotting on the crust. In the picture above you can see many brownish-black spots on the dough. The dough was chewy, had a great texture and went very well with the red sauce on the pizza. The mozzarella cheese added a depth of flavour along with the olive oil and the basil leaves which were scattered on the pizza. It was a great experience. I only wished they were a tad more generous with the basil.
The Travelling Squid’s Take
Is L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples worth visiting? I would say yes given its history and traditional techniques used in pizza-making. (No judgement if you’re there because of the film, ‘Eat, pray, love’. s( ^ ‿ ^)-b).) I’m just glad I had the chance to try another popular pizza place in Naples for comparison. The pizzeria is Esterina Sorbillo – the pizzas are slightly more expensive but you get a lot more variety.
If you’re wondering what is the difference between the two, I think the red sauce in L’Antica’s pizza is a lot more savory and flavourful, while Sorbillo’s has a stronger tomato taste. As for which is better, I would say, to each his own. I was certainly attracted to Sorbillo due to the wide selection of pizzas they had on the menu. The dining atmosphere was definitely more chic too. That said, I do really like L’Antica’s dough and red sauce, so it’s a draw between the two. In general, you should visit both pizzerias if you have the time. Don’t be intimidated by the lines – just try to visit during off-peak hours!
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples
- Address: Via Cesare Sersale 1/3, 80139, Naples Italy
- Tel: +39 081 553 9204
- Website: http://www.damichele.net/ (Unfortunately it is not in English)
- Opening hours: 11am – 10.30pm