Sunday, November 4, 2012

Da Michele

Shortly after stumbling on a pool of blood upon leaving Antica, I headed south to intersect with Corso Umberto I, one of Napoli's main thoroughfares. In fact, it was the construction and ultimately the completion of this road that brought King Umberto I and his wife, Queen Regina Margherita to the city in June 1889.

It was this trip in which she serendipitously had a pizza served to her by Raffaele Esposito at what was then called "Pizzeria Pietro" (now Pizzeria Brandi), and she loved it so much he named it after her.
Unfortunately Brandi was closed that day, so I headed instead to the infamous Antica Pizzeria da Michele, just off Corso Umberto I.

Immediately on arriving there was a wait, so I grabbed a number like everyone else and did my best to understand the Italian digits being shouted every so often. Built in 1870, the lunch clientele didn't just consist of your average Neapolitans who have known good pizza for 142 years- no, there were clearly other out-of-towners looking to have "a relationship with their pizza" ala Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love.

(courtesy of Serious Eats)

Puh-lease. I've been having a relationship with my pizza since I started eating it 27 years ago. Eventually something like my number was called and I found myself herded in and crammed into the corner of the joint.

Charming, eh? I know this place has a legendary history and reputation, but 20 foot white walls and open fixture fluorescent lighting wasn't exactly what I had envisioned the interior to look like.

So here's the menu- essentially you have your choice of Margherita or marinara in several different sizes, beer, and soda. Excellent. Plain and simple, let's do this.

Oh, okay. That's cool, half my pizza didn't need cheese anyway, but thanks. I understand the rigors of slinging pies to meet a packed house, really I do, but this just seems lazy.

While this was by no means a bad pie, I was left less than impressed. Anywhere else and this pizza probably wouldn't have been served, but it's da Michele, so it's okay /sarcasm/.

2/3 of the pie was pretty good- not too wet, flavorful mozzarella and evenly cooked. That being said, I felt duped. With the most people waiting outside than any other pizzeria I'd been to in Italy, I really didn't get what the big deal is when they're serving pies this unbalanced.

I finished my pie, had one last look around, and promptly left underwhelmed. Maybe they were having an off day, or the pizzaiolo was going through relationship woes with his pizza, but consider me unimpressed by da Michele.

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