Pizza in narrow streets of Italy
When I Google the word “Pizza”, the Merriam Webster dictionary provides the following definition:
Piz-za | \ ˈpēt-sə
: a dish made typically of flattened bread dough spread with a savory mixture usually including tomatoes and cheese and often other toppings and baked.
— called also pizza pie
That formal, soul-less description of the world’s greatest gift to mankind does nothing to capture the complex simplicity that makes pizza the beautiful piece of art that it truly is. You see, it’s that simple-ness, the basic elements in play (cheese, dough, sauce), coming together through love, compassion, and gratitude, that create the perfect pizza. It’s the ingredients you can’t include in a recipe, or find in a grocery store, that make a Pizza perfect. Love. Love makes Pizza perfect.
Pizza is Sorrento
I was fortunate enough to find the perfect Pizza one time, up a hill and down a dark and quiet street, in Sorrento, Italy, at a place called PIZZERIA da FRANCO.
My wife and I were celebrating our honeymoon and our one year wedding anniversary and we had spent the day on a boat sailing around the Island of Capri. When we got back to the mainland, we walked to the Marina to watch the sun set, not realizing that the winding road while romantic and charming on the walk down, would be difficult to traverse upon dark fall.
Surely a taxi would be available right? Uber? Lyft? Nope. As we began to walk, rather HIKE, back up the hill towards town, and from town to our hotel, we realized that the memory of the day might be in jeopardy. The only thing that could salvage this disaster of a plan, was Pizza. That’s it. That was our only savior and our only hope. Sure enough, after what felt like 10,000 sobering steps, we found Pizzeria da Franco and our Pizza eating lives were forever changed.
Simple. Elegant yet relatable. Like all great pizza you think you’ve had it before, it’s comforting, but you haven’t, because you’re a kid from New York and you’re sitting on a side street in Italy with your wife on your honeymoon and nothing in this moment, nothing else in the world matters.
Paired with some cold local beers and with loads of options for toppings and styles, this little Italian pizzeria tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist traps below feels like you’re walking into a “slice” of Pizza heaven, or as close to a Perfect Pizza Experience as you can have on Earth.
Next Stop, Rome
Rome, as Italy’s biggest international city, has put it’s only flavor on pizza leaning more towards what we in America might refer to as a “Sicilian slice”. Square/rectangular, with more water thus being more doughy, Rome while not known for their pizza like other regions across Italy, does have some of the best slices in the world. Check out any grab-n-go place near the Jewish Ghetto area of the city, those ones tend to be my favorite.
In the idyllic beach town of Rimini, I like a place called Mr. Pizza that sits just a few blocks from the sea. More traditional Neapolitan style pizzas, you cant go wrong with a margarita at this intuition by the water.
In Florence, it’s not about the pizza. It’s about Florentine steaks and a famous sandwich shop called Antico Noe that has sandwiches made to order by number. You can’t go there and just have one, so anything with prosciutto is a must for me, and always add peppers, and I usually done one pressed as a Panini and one not. In fact, these are the best sandwiches in the world and all this pizza talk now has me wanting something else…
About the Author
Ben Lyons grew up in New York City, home of the best Pizza in the world.