Naples – Centro Storico – pizzerias on Via Tribunali
Via Tribunali and Spaccanapoli (see separate food post) have the greatest concentration of pizzerias in Naples, as you’d probably expect in such a touristy area. There are several shops along Tribunali, all good, but some are better than others…
Pizzeria Sorbillo (Elementary A+), 32 Via Tribunali, www.sorbillo.it
This classic Neapolitan pizzeria is my favourite place in town to eat pizza. They’ve been dishing it out since 1935 and are rightly featured in nearly every guide you can think of. If you can I’d go straight up the stairs to the less frenetic first floor with its dim lighting, wooden beams and soundtrack of Neapolitan songs. Try and bag the table by the balcony for the cool breeze and view of the street below.
There are thirty varieties of pizza on the menu, twenty one of which are named after the Sorbillo grandchildren, all pizza makers in their own right. I like to have the classic Margherita for €3.30 which is so big it hangs over the side of the already large plate. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had in Naples and I’ve certainly had a few. Paulaner is the house beer which doesn’t seem very patriotic but it hits the spot.
To finish I recommend one of their tiny chocolate mousses and a frozen Limoncello. There are other digestivos in the freezer. Come here first and then compare the rest.
Pizzeria I Decumani (Intermediate B+), 58 Via dei Tribunali
There’s always a crowd waiting outside this popular pizzeria so I usually go elsewhere. I have had a Margherita to take away and it was fine but nothing out of the ordinary (B).
However one Sunday, with nowhere else on my hit list being open, I decided to queue for an indoor table. I was told the wait would be 20 minutes, but it was 40 minutes till I finally got to sit down.
Rather than pizza I decided to try their renowned Fritturine (vegetables fried in batter). if memory serves me correctly this involved stuffed courgette flowers (A), strips of courgette (A), pumpkin (A), eggplant (B), ‘tittoli’ (deep-fried polenta triangles) (B), plain ‘pizzelle’ (dough balls) (C), pizzelle with seaweed (B) and ‘arancini’ (rice balls) (B). They were all good but are really meant to be shared as it’s quite a hefty portion for one person.
The service is friendly and efficient and the interior is new and modern but Decumani isn’t worth the wait in my opinion, despite its popularity. I’d prefer to go to Sorbillo instead if it’s open.
Pizzeria Di Matteo (Elementary B), 94 Via dei Tribunali, www.pizzeriadimatteo.com
A basic place with okay pizzas so there’s no reason not to try it. The reason they are so popular and famous however is just down to random luck. Back in 1996, President Clinton was in town for the G7 summit. As he was walking down Tribunali with his entourage he felt thirsty and asked his security to get him a coke. Di Matteo was the nearest shop. The media picked up on this so Di Matteo became known as the ‘pizzeria of the president’.
In 1996 one of the brothers opened up his own pizzeria which he called ‘Dal Presidente’ (see next review) and in turn his son and daughter opened their own places nearby, respectively ‘Dal Figlio del Presidente’ and ‘Dal Figlia del Presidente’ (untried).
Once you’re inside, turn left onto the stuffy cramped downstairs then right and straight upstairs for the main room where you can sit beside an open window. It’s the usual paper tablecloths and plastic cup scenario, nothing special.
As usual I wanted to do my taste test on their basic Margherita but they make them here with Fior di Latte rather than Mozzarella di Bufala (boo!). As I crave Mozzarella I went instead for the Bufalina DOC at €6 with cherry tomatoes instead of tomato sauce. It was okay but again you can get a bigger and better pizza for half the price up the road at Sorbrillo. One to come to when you can’t get in anywhere else.
Pizzeria del Presidente (Low Intermediate B-), 120 Via dei Tribunali, www.dalpresidentepizzeria.it
As mentioned above, this is run by the brother of the guy who owns Di Matteo, and it’s of a similar ilk. It’s undeniably popular as there’s always a crowd waiting outside but there are other places I prefer. They often have the radio on in the kitchen playing loud (but quite good) dance music so it’s not a place for a quiet meal.
I came once on Republic Day and there was a roadblock of people waiting to get in so I just ordered a takeout for €3 to devour folded up in quarters in a nearby square. It was ok (B-) but I don’t think they had the oven temperature quite right and the mozzarella hadn’t melted properly, although the underside was very well done.
I went again on another evening when it was less busy and managed to get a seat so I tried their Pizza Fritta which is too sloppy to take away.
You can choose the filling which can include provola, ricotta, cooked ham, ‘ciccoli’ (pork pieces rendered from lard), salami and tomato, and there’s also a sausage, provola and friarielli (broccoli rabe) option which I haven’t tried. Theirs is supposedly a good example of this genre of pizza but I felt it had very little flavour and it left me feeling a bit queasy if I’m honest (B-).
I asked for a Limoncello to finish but was given a Meloncello instead, a bastard creation that I absolutely loath so I left it untouched (D). The waitress, otherwise very nice, still charged me for it and I couldn’t be bothered to dispute it.
Again, this pizzeria is fine, but given the quality of the competition, any of the other options on this street would be a better choice I think.