Whenever I get down to Napoli it’s usually de rigueur that we get a pizza at one of the ‘holy trinity’ pizzerias. This trifecta of mozzarella bliss consists of Sorbillo (a 2-floor joint in the historic centre with pizza elevators), Pellone (a rustic environment with not so warm and fuzzy waiters, but notable Bufala mozzarella) and Da Michele (aka the ‘Eat Pray Love’ pizzeria – see the prominently displayed photo of Julia Roberts enjoying a slice above). Now in order to relish in this fluffy, doughy, gooey, saucy, wooden oven delight, one must face great sacrifice and tests of self endurance…especially on a Saturday afternoon when literally half of Naples has nothing better to do but go out for a pizza. Hence the 1 hour + old school wait where you take a number and resign yourself to cooling your heels on the street with the rest of the common folk.Having been predisposed to the call-ahead reservations and flashing/vibrating disks they hand you at Jack Astors, scenarios like that of Da Michele were hard to adjust to at the onset, but nowadays I’ve become more accustomed to this fact of life. I’ve come to realize and respect that places like Da Michele are legendary because they don’t change: the interiors are spartan, almost clinical, there are only two menu options margherita (mozzarella and tomato sauce) or marinara (just tomato sauce), the menu has perennial typos in both Italian and English and the prehistoric manager never seems to move from his position propped against an alcove, surveying the scene with his old-man glare and crossed arms – come to think of it, maybe he can’t move and has been paralyzed there since ’92… All of these signature characteristics have perhaps played a part in keeping the pizzeria the mainstay that it is. Turning out pizzas since the turn of the twentieth century is no small feat afterall, the crowd outside suffering in starvation attests to that.
Antica Pizzeria ‘da Michele’
Via Cesare Sersale, 1, Naples