I just mentioned in my Ischia post that I was going back and forth between Naples and Ischia, I kept going back to Brandi in Naples from Ischia just for pizza. The pizza at Brandi was mindblowingly good, there are actually many other famous pizza places in Naples that are all just as delicious, I mean pizza was born here.
One of the things I loved about going to Brandi was walking up narrow streets, Brandi is tucked away in a tiny corner, its actually very close to the famous coffee shop “Gambrinus”. The reason why I went to Brandi a lot is because it is a very short walk from the port, after I got off the boat I was there in about 10-15 minutes. If you have time you should also check out GAMBRINUS for classic italian pastries and coffee.
From far away you can see a huge “BRANDI” sign leading you into the tiny street that it is located on.
The history of pizza is actually very interesting– in Naples they had flatbread in the 16th century which they started calling pizza, pizza wasn’t actually something that people looked forward to eating, they used a thin sheet of dough to test the temperature of their ovens which eventually turned into pizza. Apparently many poor people ate this flatbread and then they added tomato sauce to it. At Brandi they are known for their classic Margherita pizzas, this combination was created by Rafaele Esposito who worked at “Brandi”, he was known for baking pizzas for the king and queen which is why many of the pizzas on Brandi’s menu are named after royalty (Pizza Margherita was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy. There is one other famous place in Naples called Antica Pizzeria Port Alba that also has a hand in starting pizza but apparently Brandi is the first place to make Margherita Pizza (Basil, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce). If any Neapolitans are reading this feel free to correct me if I’ve made any errors here I know you guys take your pizza very seriously. Here this sign literally says “here 100 years ago came the pizza margherita” in Italian.
Besides pizza, one of the starters YOU HAVE TO ORDER when you come to Brandi is the antipasto with Mozzarella, Arugula and Prosciutto. You notice that they don’t really give a damn about presentation, everything here is just about ease and serving the best and freshest ingredients.
Mozzarella cheese was the best I’ve ever had, better than that place Mandara I posted about, the milk is oozing out the minute you cut it. It is very common for each person to order one of this antipasto for themselves- before I thought it was weird that someone would eat a whole ball of cheese, but now I get why.
Arugula here is smaller, and spicier.
This pizza was divided into four sections, you can tell a lot from this quartered pizza, people here do not like to mix flavors, they like to keep the flavors pure. At least that was the message I was getting. I also noticed that sauces are all different for pastas, in the US they use one sauce and flavor it differently but here there is a different sauce for each and every single pasta. They don’t use the same tomato sauce base for everything.
Sauce turns pink because the cheese is so fresh that the milk blends into it. For me this was the best part, its what made the pizza here taste different. The sauce is also very fresh, not much garlic or flavorings, just fresh tomatos. The dough is also incredibly chewy, salty and bubbly. You can’t eat this pizza by slice, you have to eat it with a knife and fork because the dough is too thin to lift, the moisture from the cheese and sauce creates a very soft crust. But having a super crusty crust is not the point here, its supposed to taste softer. This pizza is meant for a knife and fork.
Within the restaurant you can smell the basil baking in the oven, it was intoxicating.
Out of all the cities in the world, I get the best vibes from people in Italy. As soon as I got to Paris I felt terse. Italians know how to live, obviously. Can you believe I went to Brandi three times while I was here?
If you’re in the Naples area and you want to eat at the pizza place featured in EAT PRAY LOVE (haven’t seen this yet but I am sure I will order it on demand when I am bored out of my mind) that place is called “L’ANTICA PIZZERIA DA MICHELE” but I’ll be honest most of the pizza places taste pretty similar.