Anyway, in a topical break from form, I'm not going to report on the various follies that befell us at our Roman gig (there were many) or complain about the preposterous "career" that is flying around the world to play records. Instead, I'm going to write about pizza. After all, Naples is less than an hour away from Rome by express train. Since our epicurean friend Matt was also playing the festival, we decided it was imperative that the three of us should go to Naples immediately after the festival and eat pizza until we couldn't move.
We arrived in Naples late in the afternoon and headed directly to L'Antica Pizzeria Da Michele. Despite Da Michele's status as the most famous and highly-recommended pizzeria in Naples, we walked into a nearly empty restaurant and sat right down at a large table. It might have been the jet lag or our low blood sugar, but the silent, white-marble dining area seemed as if it was enveloping us in a (buffalo) milky haze, feeling a bit like Dr. Bowman's space-room at the finale of Kubrik's 2001 - that is, were that room furnished with a wood-burning pizza oven and lacking a giant monolith (you'll note I'm studiously avoiding mention of the popular film that featured a scene in which Da Michele is invaded and sullied by a pizzaphilic beaver).
We ordered three pizzas: two margheritas (one normale and one doppia mozzarella) and a marinara. The margherita and marinara are in fact the only two choices on the menu, albeit with options to double the cheese and or change the pie size (normale, media, and maxi, with each larger diameter increase commanding a 50-eurocent increment above the normale's astonishing four euro base price).
The pizza, in short, was perfect:
|Margherita (foreground) and marinara.|
|Da Michele "upskirt."|
Only a few, short hours later it was dinner time, and we headed off to Da Dora, a seafood restaurant up on Via Palasciano. Always thinking ahead, Matt had reserved us a table there as a respite from our planned pizza marathon. Although the plates of perfectly-fried red mullet, tender calamari, shrimp, dorade and anchovies distracted me, my thoughts kept returning to Da Michele and its humble rounds of perfection. Da Dora's homey, familial ambiance, complete with singing nonna, belied what turned out to be an expensive tab (though we drank wine, we were still surprised by our total of nearly 250 euro). Though I was thankful for the experience, I had experienced better fish in other European cities, and was looking forward to our return to pizza-eating the next day.
|Singing nonna, approaching with insalata caprese.|
|A detail of the mixed fried fish (octopus, fish cakes).|
The following morning, we walked around the old city for a few hours in a valiant effort build up an appetite. We only had about five hours before we were to split up and depart to our respective trains and planes, and we were still a bit full from the night before. Nonetheless, we were soon seated at Trianon da Ciro, a pizzeria recommended to me a few days prior in Geneva by a restaurant proprietor originally from Rome. In fact, he was quite dismissive of Da Michelle, claiming it was overrated and "for tourists only." Knowing firsthand how wrong this chef was about Da Michele, I was filled with trepidation as we waited for our pizzas (selected from a menu of perhaps twenty varieties) to arrive. We had ordered a classic margherita and a D.O.C.
The verdict? I think the expressions on the faces of the pizzaioli at Da Michelle versus the one at Trianon mirrored our own feelings about their respective products perfectly:
|Pizzaioli at Da Michele (left) and Trianon da Ciro.|
|The pasty Trianon "upskirt."|
Our final stop was at Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente. The pizzeria had formerly been called Cacialli, but a summer visit in 1994 from then-President Bill Clinton moved the owners to change the name. If you find the sycophantic corniness of the name a bit off-putting, wait until you see the mural outside:
|Try not to think of fraternity hazing rituals.|