Hello, fellow pizza lovers! If you're anything like me, you've always dreamed of visiting Italy and tasting the authentic pizza that made this country famous.
Well, I'm happy to report that I finally did it, and it was everything I hoped for and more. In fact, I ate so much pizza that I think I might have turned into one. But hey, that's a risk I was willing to take for the sake of culinary adventure.
In this blog post, I'll share with you some of the highlights of my pizza journey through Italy, from the birthplace of pizza in Naples to the capital of pizza al taglio in Rome.
I'll also give you some tips on how to order pizza like a local, and how to avoid some common pitfalls that might ruin your pizza experience. So grab a slice and join me as I relive my pizza memories!
My first stop was Naples, the city where pizza was invented in the 18th century. Here, pizza is not just a food, but a way of life. You can find pizzerias on every corner, each one claiming to make the best pizza in the world. And they might be right.
The Neapolitan pizza is simple but sublime: a thin crust made with fresh dough, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil and olive oil. That's it. No fancy toppings, no extra cheese, no pineapple (please don't ever put pineapple on pizza in Italy). The pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven for about 90 seconds, resulting in a soft and chewy base with charred edges and bubbling cheese.
The most famous type of Neapolitan pizza is the Margherita, named after Queen Margherita of Savoy who visited Naples in 1889 and fell in love with this pizza that resembled the colors of the Italian flag: red, white and green. Legend has it that a local pizzaiolo (pizza maker) named Raffaele Esposito created this pizza especially for her, and presented it to her with a letter of dedication. Whether this story is true or not, it doesn't matter. The Margherita is still the queen of pizzas today.
I tried many Margheritas during my stay in Naples, but my favorite one was at Pizzeria Da Attilio, a historic place that has been serving pizzas since 1938. The owner, Attilio Bachetti, is a master pizzaiolo who knows how to balance the ingredients and bake the perfect crust. His Margherita was divine: light, fragrant and flavorful. I also loved his Marinara, another classic Neapolitan pizza topped with tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and olive oil. This pizza was originally eaten by fishermen who returned from the sea, hence the name.
One thing to keep in mind when ordering pizza in Naples is that you're expected to eat it with your hands. No forks or knives here. Just fold your slice in half and enjoy it like a sandwich. Also, don't be surprised if you get a whole pizza for yourself. That's how they do it here. Sharing is not caring when it comes to pizza.
After Naples, I headed to Rome, where I discovered another way of eating pizza: al taglio (by the slice). This is the Italian version of fast food: you walk up to a counter where you see several types of rectangular pizzas with various toppings, and you point to the one you want. Then, the pizzaiolo cuts a piece for you with scissors or a knife, weighs it and charges you by weight.
Pizza al taglio is perfect for a quick lunch or snack on the go. You can either eat it standing up at the counter or take it away and eat it while walking around the city. You can also try different kinds of pizzas with different toppings, from classics like Margherita or Marinara to more creative ones like potato and rosemary or zucchini and ricotta.
One of the best places to try pizza al taglio in Rome is Dar Poeta Alla Scala in Trastevere, a charming neighborhood full of narrow streets and colorful buildings. Here, they make their pizzas with organic flour and natural yeast, and top them with fresh ingredients from local producers. My favorite one was their Amatriciana pizza, made with prosciutto and pecorino cheese. It was salty and savory, just like the famous pasta dish with the same name.
Another great spot for pizza al taglio is Ristorante a Casa Mia, also in Trastevere. They make their pizzas with sourdough and extra virgin olive oil, and bake them in a wood-fired oven. Their Parmigiana di Melanzane pizza, made with eggplant and parmesan cheese, was amazing. The eggplant was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the cheese was melted and gooey. It was like eating a slice of heaven.
One thing to remember when ordering pizza al taglio in Rome is that you don't have to be shy. Just use your hands to show how big you want your slice, and don't be afraid to ask for more or less toppings. The pizzaiolo will be happy to accommodate your preferences. Also, don't forget to ask for a napkin, because pizza al taglio can be messy.
My pizza adventure in Italy was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned so much about the history and culture of pizza, and I tasted some of the most delicious pizzas ever. I also met some wonderful people who shared their passion and knowledge of pizza with me.
Pizza is more than just a food in Italy. It's a symbol of identity, tradition and creativity. It's a way of expressing yourself and connecting with others. It's a source of joy and satisfaction. It's love.
If you ever have the chance to visit Italy, I highly recommend you to try as many pizzas as you can. You won't regret it. And if you can't travel to Italy right now, don't worry. You can still enjoy pizza at home, by making your own or ordering from a good pizzeria. Just remember to keep it simple, fresh and authentic.
And always, always, eat it with your heart.