IT is the city that gave the world one of its favourite dishes.
Naples is so synonymous with pizza that Unesco recognises the doughy delight from the city as part of global cultural heritage, a sort of culinary Coliseum.
Yet the stunning but gritty Italian port is no longer home to the very best pizza, at least according to the people who know the treat best.
The latest industry Oscars – the 50Top Pizza guide, announced yesterday – found that the two best places to eat a Margherita were in nearby Caserta, not Naples.
Two pizza-makers – Francesco Martucci and Franco Pepe – secured joint top spot for their rival restaurants in Caserta, an industrial town 25 miles north of Naples.
Caserta, at least is in Campania, the region of Naples and home to some of the essential ingredients of a good pizza, such as bufala mozzarella cheese.
Rome’s La Repubblica stressed just how remarkable this development is. “Once it would have been impossible to find a good pizza beyond the Naples by-pass,” the paper reported. “Now of the the 50 pizzerias considered excellent, only 17 are in Campania.”
Real slice of Italy: Baked pizza al taglio, Glasgow. Reviewed by Ron Mackenna
There were pizzas recognised for their excellence in Rome – where the dish is often square – which is far from surprising. But restaurants named in the top 50 were found as far north as Milan, Liguria and Verona, suggesting the one time southern grip over the best pizzerias was long lost.
Neapolitans do not buy this and maintain it isn’t just impossible to eat decent pizza outside its old town. And a pizzeria right in the heart of Naples, Sorbillo, still makes it to Number 4 on the list. Da Michele, the rival pizzeria made famous by the Holywood movie Eat Pray Love, does not.
Sorbillo, which has a permanent queue outside its door, comes behind another Naples restaurant, 50 Kalò, in the Oscars. But this eatery isn’t in the historic heart of the city either.
Ron Mackenna restaurant review: Errol’s Hot Pizza, 379 Victoria Road, Glasgow
Its London branch, meanwhile, was named as the best pizzeria outside Italy.
Pizzas are one of he most widely available dishes in the world and connoisseurs often argue that the examples served up in Buenos Aires in Argentina, Chicago in the United States or Sao Paolo in Brazil can match the Italian originals.
Pizza purists, meanwhile, might be shocked at the eighth entry in the rankings, Seu Pizza Illuminati. This Rome eatery took the prize for the best vegan pizza.