What’s the best way to refuel after a long day of sightseeing in Italy? Pizza, of course! But where can you find the best pizza in Italy? And what’s the difference between Roman pizza and Neapolitan pizza? Read on for tips on finding the perfect pizza!
Pizza in Italy – one of the culinary wonders of the world
Pizza is such an integral part of Italian food culture that it came as no surprise when Neapolitan pizza was awarded UNESCO status. Whether you eat it al taglio (by the slice) while on the go, or prefer a whole pizza in a traditional pizzeria, you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
However, while it’s possible to find excellent pizza pretty much everywhere in Italy, two cities are particularly famous: Rome and Naples. So, if you want to try the best of the best, it’s time to head south.
Roman pizza vs Neapolitan pizza – what’s the difference?
To put it simply, Roman pizza tends to be thin and crispy, while Neapolitan pizza is thicker and doughier.
The classic Roman pizza is paper thin with minimal crust. It’s lighter and less filling, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your hunger. It may not fill you up as much, but it’s also less likely to leave you feeling bloated. It’s not policed in the same way as Neapolitan pizza, so there’s a little more freedom for Roman pizza-makers to use creative license. Especially in al taglio pizzerias, you will find interesting pizza topping combinations.
In traditional Roman pizzerias you’ll find mostly classics like Margherita, Diavola and Capricciosa.
Neapolitan pizza is much heavier. The crust is thicker and fluffier, and the pizza is often smaller than a Roman pizza (but much more filling). Neapolitans are quite traditional when it comes to toppings, preferring the simplicity of a Margherita or Marinara, though some pizzerias have extensive menus.
Naturally, Romans and Neapolitans tend to prefer the local pizza, but when it comes to the fundamental question of “Which is better?” there’s no clear answer. Pizza is personal – it depends on your tastes, and perhaps how hungry you are in that moment.
Just don’t ask for pineapple or make the mistake of offering a pineapple pizza to a Neapolitan.
Best pizza places in Rome
To find the best pizza in Rome, go to pizzerias. That may sound obvious, but keep in mind that there are lots of ordinary restaurants that have pizza on the menu. Your chances of finding a mouth-wateringly delicious pizza are much higher if you go to a pizzeria.
In central Rome, two of the most popular and famous pizzerias are Da Baffetto and La Montecarlo. Pizzeria Emma is a bit more pricy but is renowned for its light-as-air pizzas with quality ingredients.
However, not all of the best pizza places are located in the historic centre. Locals in the know go to Seu Pizza Illuminati, located in Trastevere, or La Gatta Mangiona, a Monteverde pizzeria specialised in Neapolitan pizza. They may seem off the beaten path for a tourist, but we promise you will eat some superior pizza!
Testaccio, another residential neighbourhood, is becoming increasingly well-known as foodie tourist destination. Da Remo is one of the most famous pizzerias in Rome, serving up delicious Roman pizza in chaotic yet authentic surroundings. For excellent pizza by the slice and more unusual toppings (such as pear and gorgonzola, or prosciutto and figs), try Casa Manco in the Testaccio food market. A pizzeria al taglio you certainly cannot miss is the famous Pizzarium by the celebrity pizza-maker Gabriele Bonci, who makes both traditional pizzas (but always using real high quality ingredients) and more experimental ones.
Best pizza places in Naples
The most famous pizzeria in Naples is Sorbillo. The crowds can be overwhelming, but the pizza certainly doesn’t disappoint. Nearby Di Matteo and Da Michele are also generally regarded as some of the best pizzerias in Naples. Da Michele takes a somewhat purist approach to pizza, as the only options are Margherita or Marinara. Starita is another great option for traditional Neapolitan pizza, which is a little less chaotic because it’s located off the tourist trail in the Materdei neighbourhood.
Brandi prides itself on being the birthplace of pizza, but although it’s good, it’s not one of the best. If your priority is taste rather than history, take a walk along the seafront to reach 50 Kalò, a highly rated modern pizzeria which specialises in “more digestible” dough.
If you want to eat at one of the best pizza places in Naples, get there early (before 7:30), or be prepared to queue for an hour. However, you should also keep in mind that when you’re in the home of pizza. It’s virtually impossible to eat a pizza that’s anything less than delicious. So, if you don’t want to wait in line, try a less famous pizzeria such as the excellent Locanda del Grifo.
Read more: Where to find the best local dishes in Naples (CNN Travel)