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Andrew Fenton

Neapolitan street food

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After Rome, Naples is probably my favorite city in Italy. It’s beautiful (sometimes stunningly so), vibrant and with more history and culture than I could ever hope to absorb. So I’ve been very glad to have had the chance to head down to Naples a few times over the last few months. The most recent trip was on April 14- Good Friday. This was a short visit (just a few hours), and I wasn’t able to go to any sit-down restaurants this time around. But I was able to take some notes on my favorite Neapolitan street foods.

I started with my favorite pizza in Naples: Di Matteo, aka “Del Presidente”. It’s the president’s pizza thanks to Bill Clinton, who in 2001 took time out from the G8 summit in Naples to stop in here and enjoy a pizza. They’re pretty proud of this: there are lots of photos of the prez on the walls of the store. The restaurant is pretty much a hole in the wall- though with a very convenient location on the via Tribunali, smack dab in the middle of Spaccanapoli. And the pizza!

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This picture is actually from an earlier trip—this time around, I was too busy eating! This is a small: about the size of an LP record (hey, remember those?). If I remember right, it cost a euro: cheap cheap cheap. This time around, I was charged € 1.50. I’m not sure why: the only difference was that before they had several pizzas already made, and this time it was made to order. At any rate, a measly 50 cents is a bargain for a freshly-made pizza like this.

I had it served to go, and ate it while sitting on the steps of S. Paolo Maggiore just up the street.

This is a fantastic pizza, people: a real taste from the pizza mothership. Served like this, the crust is soft and floppy and slightly charred underneath. It needs to be floppy, because you have to fold it up into sort of a cone to keep the molten cheese from slopping out over the sides. The cheese and sauce sort of turn into a volcanic stew of sweet salty greasy goodness, like a Vesuvius in your hands. If there’s a better, cheaper way to spend your money on food, I’d like to know about it.

Though Friggitoria Vomero may come close. This is up in the Vomero neighborhood, the highest part of town and right near the Castel Sant’ Elmo. They specialize in fried foods—hence the “friggitoria”. And when they’re frying, you can tell. I wouldn’t want to live nearby; it would drive me crazy. But it’s gotta be a good marketing technique: put an awesome fried-foods joint right next to the funicular... It’s hard to pass it up.

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Here is part of what I got. Again, I lacked the discipline to start eating until AFTER the photos were done; sorry, because the photo is missing the star of the show, an amazing zucchini blossom. But what’s left is good too: from the left, a faggotino (baked, not fried) stuffed with escarole. (For those looking for an extra carbo-blast, they also serve them filled with pasta. yow.) I’ve learned just how good a filling escarole is: another one of my deep-fried Neapolitan friends is a deep-fried pastry stuffed with escarole. (I can’t remember the name: maybe calzono?)

Next up is a very simple slice of eggplant, fried in a light batter. Entirely too easy to eat these. And finally, a small fried pizza: a piece of fried dough with sauce and cheese and one little basil leaf. Yum!

Fiori zi zucca and eggplant were each 30 cents, I think. The faggotino and pizza were a little more, but in all, the food came to about 3 euros. Need I mention what an insane bargain this was?

After the fried goodness, we waddled up to the Certosa di S. Martino monastery and looked out over the gorgeous Neapolitan skyline and Vesuvius in the distance:

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and reflected on the fact that, on the whole, it was a pretty good fry-day.

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Andrew, fantastic topic.

Neapolitan street food is one of the things I grew up with, so reading your post brought some great memories back. If you liked Friggitoria Vomero you might want to give Friggitoria di Montesanto a try next time you're in Naples: although topographically somewhat distant, both friggitorie are practically connected by the Montesanto funicolare.

Just one thing that puzzled me: you mention Di Matteo as "Del Presidente". I am pretty sure these are two different pizzerie, although there is a link between them. Del Presidente is the pizzeria the former pizzaiolo of Di Matteo, the one who served Clinton, opened a few years ago after leaving his former occupation. The two pizzerie are about 50 meters away.


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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Neapolitan street food is one of the things I grew up with, so reading your post brought some great memories back. If you liked Friggitoria Vomero you might want to give Friggitoria di Montesanto a try next time you're in Naples: although topographically somewhat distant, both friggitorie are practically connected by the Montesanto funicolare.

Thanks, I'll give that a try next time I'm in Naples.

Since then, I've been fantasizing about opening a friggitoria in the US: a place that would sell cheap, high-quality fried foods. Suppli, arancie, zucchini flowers (and maybe the vegetable too), eggplant, etc. I wonder if it would have any hope of being successful. The problem would be that it would have to be someplace with lots of foot traffic (so a city like New York or Philadelphia), but the rent would be pretty high in one of those places. And I don't know how easily Americans would take to Italian-style fried foods...

Just one thing that puzzled me: you mention Di Matteo as "Del Presidente". I am pretty sure these are two different pizzerie, although there is a link between them. Del Presidente is the pizzeria the former pizzaiolo of Di Matteo, the one who served Clinton, opened a few years ago after leaving his former occupation. The two pizzerie are about 50 meters away.

That may be. This time around, at least, I definitely went to di Matteo (they have the name in tiles on their oven.) I may have gotten confused by the Slow Food osterie guide (2005), which says about di Matteo: "il locale e conosciuto dalla gente del posto come la pizzeria del Presidente" (and then gives the story.) Anyway, it's yet another excuse to get back there and eat more pizza.

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Andrew, thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories. The Pizzeria del Presidente is a hole in the wall, but has a large dining room downstairs.

Naples is one of the world's great street food cities. I would love a friggateria near me, although I'm not sure it would love me. :wink:


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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gallery_8158_790_55267.jpg

Here is a photo of the oven at Pizzeria del Presidente taken during the Slow Food Congress dinner held there in Nov. 2003.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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gallery_8158_790_55267.jpg

Here is a photo of the oven at Pizzeria del Presidente taken during the Slow Food Congress dinner held there in Nov. 2003.

Nice looking oven; I like the stone facing. And it convinces me once and for all that I was at a different place last month- the top of its oven was covered with blue tile...

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Lovely thread. takes me back to Naples too..

Did you have any Nutella filled deep fried pizza.. that thing is probably one of the most crazy things invented. has anybody been able to digest that properly?


Edited by Hector (log)

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According to Carla Capalbo's "Food and Wine Guide to Naples and Campania," Ernesto, who used to work at di Matteo, opened his own place down the street in 2000 and named it "Del Presidente" in honor of Clinton. Clinton visited di Matteo in 1994 and ate 2 American-style sausage pizzas. I'm sure he was a little disappointed not to get the typical Neapolitan pizza. Mr. Creosote was crestfallen when he went to his first banquet in China and they decided to make egg rolls and sweet'n'sour pork in his honor.

I've had Ernesto's pizza, and if I were Clinton, I'd go back...

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I love Neapolitan street food and have written two articles about it only to discover this thread later!

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Here is a shot of the pizzaiolo at Pizzaiolo del Presidente preparing my pizza margherita in two minutes flat plus 30 seconds, not one more, in the oven. I can't believe how fast the pizza bubbled and browned, but again, you won't believe how hot their oven is.

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Just as popular with the locals is deep fried pizza, or pizza fritta. A serious calorie bomb. Antonio, the owner of a hole-in-the-wall pizza fritta joint just off via Toledo invited me inside his shop to watch and learn how they make the pizza fritta. Then I ate it sitting at hte large marble table where he kneads his dough at nights. All of this plus half an hour of lively conversation for €3.50, I love this city!

I have more pictures and details on my blog.

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I must now return to napoli as soon as possible to gorge myself sick. last time was slightly dissappointing, well the pizza at da michele was good but i didn't get to really get into the city. we had only been in italy for a few months and it was our first trip out of roma. that and our italian was very fragile, it's still terrible but we're doing better.

great thread, great pics.

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I must now return to napoli as soon as possible to gorge myself sick.  last time was slightly dissappointing, well the pizza at da michele was good but i didn't get to really get into the city.  we had only been in italy for a few months and it was our first trip out of roma.  that and our italian was very fragile, it's still terrible but we're doing better.

Downtown Napoli can be rather scary. When I was there there hills or rubbish on every street corner, some burning with an acrid smoke. The hills may have turned to mountains by now. Muggings are very common, even for the locals. So you should not feel bad about having had a hard time coping with the center. If your Italian is good it is of course better. I recommend stripping absolutely anything snatchable from your person. No purse, no bag, no camera, no wallet. I put a few banknotes directly in my pocket and left my passport at the hotel. I took a small compact camera and prepared a thread to hang it around my neck below the shirt. All of this makes you an unattractive target for thieves, who go for low-hanging fruits. And then you can enjoy the wonderful people of Napoli in a more carefree spirit. My two cents!

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The situation in Naples has got wrost in the last 12-18 months....

Almost permanent problems with rubish/trash collection due to the closure of many landfields and new one that cannot open while blocked by protest and sit ins....

Also, just over a year ago, many criminals with few years left on their sentence were let out back in the street due to over populated prisons....

FXcusine advice on how to get around are well worth following...

I was almost mugged twice as was getting around looking very pale, well dressed and with a back pack (looking like a tourist my sister said), and only manged to avoid it by talking "Neapolitan" to them....

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The situation in Naples has got wrost in the last 12-18 months....

Almost permanent problems with rubish/trash collection due to the closure of many landfields and new one that cannot open while blocked by protest and sit ins....

Also, just over a year ago, many criminals with few years left on their sentence were let out back in the street due to over populated prisons....

FXcusine advice on how to get around are well worth following...

I was almost mugged twice as was getting around looking very pale, well dressed and with a back pack (looking like a tourist my sister said), and only manged to avoid it by talking "Neapolitan" to them....

like FX said, no one is safe in Napoli. I have a Roman student who had her earrings ripped out of her years on a bus, even with that, she still loves the city. all of my students warn me to not bring anything, so this time around i'll be looking italian, except pasty and blond of course.

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If we're going to continue to have tangents about crime and safety in Naples, my take on it is that as a New Yorker who grew up in the rough 1970s and '80s, I had no trouble in Naples in 1991 and 1998. No doubt, part of that was luck of the draw, and perhaps crime is up since then, but there's a lot to be said for having your wits about yourself. So my advice to anyone is: Go, be watchful, and have great food, savory and pastries alike!


Michael aka "Pan

 

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