Every pizza can be a personal pie if you believe in yourself!
I am unabashedly not into this pizza thing which, as Food Network chefs told me, makes me belong to the 7%. However, when in Italy, I will give it a try because really, history lovers and food voyeurs cannot deny the chefs that make the land and other things proud. Which is why, when wandering Naples, I walked into what was a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria, but with a legacy that stretched across the Atlantic and Pacific.
Pizzeria Di Matteo is from an ancient family of pizza makers, which looks quite ordinary at the onset, what with mint green walls covered with awards and pictures of the likes of Clinton, and a massive brick furnace churning out hot pizzas. As history has it, founder Salvatore di Matteo was born an Aries (like me!) on April 18 1974, and over time and until very recently, participated and won a plethora of national and international pizza competitions, including the 2013 Pizza World Cup! But none of this removed the very earthy, homely quality to the place, which radiated simplicity and authenticity, what with gingham tablecloths and thick plates serving pizza that was sweltering hot and too big for it! Classic.
Being vegetarian but a lover of cheese, mine was the parmesan and gorgonzola cheese margarita pizza which arrived too big for its own plate, and radiating of aromas that literally made me levitate. The pie was covered with specks of hand strewn cheese and basil, and even the dough looked hand knead. With organic crispy exteriors, this was obviously a recipe that was family owned, for there was nothing commercial or cookie cutter about the irregularity of the pizza, which also came unsliced, mandating me to rip it apart with my vicarious appetite!
Words were at miss for the deliciousness of this bite. The crust was crisp, thin, but chewy on the interior, with a hearty smoky flavor and an irregularity of crunch that made it exceptionally unique in a world of harmonized flavors. The burnt bits were my favorite. The sauce tasted of fresh tomatoes, literally bursting with freshness as they gave way to the flavorful cheeses. And how the cheeses melted! Still melting from the heat of the furnace, they kissed my tongue and lips with their salty, briny and undertone sweet flavors, often mixed up in the ensemble, creating a different bite each time.
A fun experience, and one that was easy on the wallet, what with a pie under 8 Euros! And one that left me heated up on a chilly evening, which I consequently vanquished with a staple street side gelato right outside from an tiny, non-descriptive spot. Nonetheless my dark chocolate coffee bean and licorice gelato bites had me competing with Peter Pan for a singalong to ‘We Can Fly!’
What a fun city by day, and a mischievous one by night. Napoli, I love you.