Pizza at Da Michele, Naples Italy

A fresh Margherita pizza comes out of the oven at Antica Pizzeria da Michele, in Naples, Italy.

This popular local pizza joint always had lines out the door, but the fame grew enormously after being featured in a certain best-selling book (followed by a movie). It's the antithesis of the philosophy that you should give the customer whatever they want. For generations da Michele has served only two types of pizza – Marinara, and Margherita. The drinks menu consists of beer, Coca-Cola®, or sparkling water. With no reservations possible you are seated when enough spots open up for you group, often at a communal table. Yet the crowds continue to que, and local workers leave with take-out boxes stacked high, because da Michele serves one of the best pizzas in Naples (you'll have to decide for yourself if it's THE best).

With fame has come expansion. There are now locations in Rome, Milan, Barcelona, London, two in Japan, and even one in Los Angeles.

Pizza in Naples

Introducing a young Harry Potter – or at least a Harry Potter look-alike – to Neapolitan pizza on one of our Hand Crafted Tours in 2006

One of the tidbits of advice that I give travelers heading to Italy is to avoid pizza north of Rome. Pizza is universal to a certain extent, but serious pizza is Neapolitan and Roman (want to start an argument – tell a Roman that pizza is Neapolitan, or vice versa). The distinctions between the two schools is not relevant here. If you order pizza anywhere else it should at least be cooked in a wood burning oven in a proper pizzeria (preferably by a native Neapolitan).

Probably the most famous pizza place in Naples right now is Antica Pizzeria da Michele, thanks in large part to it being featured in a very famous book and movie (which shall remain nameless). They only have two choices: Marinara (sauce, oil, oregano) or Margherita (sauce, oil, cheese, basil), but there is perfection in their simplicity. There's no question that the pizza at da Michele is one of the best, if not the best I've ever had. Even before becoming a star of print and screen, locals would stand in line for an hour or more to get a table, and a constant stream of boxes were being strapped to Vespas for delivery to local office workers. If you plan to eat at da Michele, arrive early (by 11:00), or during the lull around 16:00.

If you get to da Michele and find the look of the line unbearable, just around the corner is Pizzeria Trianon da Ciro. With multiple levels there is far more seating, and you can usually get in quickly. They have a more expansive menu, too. Not quite as good, but it will do in a pinch.

Both of these are a short walk from the main train station, and even closer to the end station of the Circumvesuviana, the train line that connects Naples to a string of villages along the bay, including Pompeii, and Sorrento. If you are visiting the National Archaeology Museum, the best option is Pizzeria da Sorbillo Gino. Sobillo's pizza goes head to head with da Michele as the best in Naples, and you're likely to find a line here, too. Be careful, though. There are several pizza places in the area masquerading as 'Sorbillo'. The one you want is at Via dei Tribunali 32.

Also nearby, Antica Pizzeria Porta d'Alba frequently is mentioned as one of the oldest, if not the oldest pizza places in Naples. While their pizzas are decent, I've never been very impressed with the quality, with the atmosphere, or with the service. I'd stick to one of the three listed above.

Was your pizza made by a licensed pizzaoli?

Maybe it's things like this that led Britain to vote to exit the EU...Italy wants to establish a government-controlled exam, minimum qualifications and a registry for pizza-makers.

Pizza Pollution

The town of San Vitaliano, Italy has banned the use of wood-burning pizza ovens because of concerns about the city's poor air quality. Local pizza makers are protesting, saying that nearby Naples, which has far more pizza ovens, has better air quality than San Vitaliano.

The Naples area is considered home to the best pizza in Italy, pizza that must be made in a wood-burning oven.

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