If you've never had pizza in Naples, you've never had pizza.
The places whose residents claim they invented pizza, from New Haven, Conn., to the South of France, are living in a dream. Even in Rome they know their pizza doesn't approach the Neapolitan version.
What's the big deal?
Tomatoes and mozzarella cheese are regional specialties, but they're just the topping on the city's most famous pie, the Margherita, named for Italian Queen Margherita, who visited Naples in 1889.
The real secret is the chewy, delicious crust, made from natural yeast starter and durum wheat flour. The dough is allowed to rise for eight to 36 hours; punched, twirled and stretched by an expert pizzaiolo (master pizza craftsman); then baked in a red-hot oven for about a minute and a half. "The result must be a soft, airy, cooked-through crust, just lightly crisp at the outer edge, that tastes of wheat and yeast and wood-ash," wrote Carla Capalbo in "The Food and Wine Guide to Naples and Campania."
That's the way it's done in Naples, where you'd have to be very unlucky to get a bad pizza. Here are a few places where you can't go wrong:
Brandi, 1-2 Via Santa Anna di Palazzo, 011-34-081-41-6928, just off the pedestrian walkway Via Chiaia, run by the folks who created the Pizza Margherita.
Da Umberto, 30-31 Via Alabardieri, 011-34-081-41-8555, near the Piazza dei Martiri, known especially for fried pizza with smoked mozzarella, ricotta and herbs.
Pizzeria Trianon da Ciro, 46 Via Colletta, 011-34-081-55-39426, a Neapolitan institution since 1925, serving 20 varieties of pizzas and calzones.