Inspired by the release of “Eat Pray Love,” we asked some our female contributors to write on how those themes have played into their travels. Today Emily Chaplin Krug shares how she followed in the footsteps of best selling author Elizabeth Gilbert to find her Shangri-La, Neapolitan style.
Three little words: I, Love, Pizza. I’ll try any variety, any preparation method: deep dish, wood fired, Californian. Whether it hails from Chicago, New York or somewhere in between, if it is freshly and attentively prepared (meaning no canned ingredients) I’m in. (And sometimes I’ll even bend on the canned rule, if I’m hungry enough.)
As much of a fanatic as I am, until this year I had never visited the place I consider the source of everything that is pure and wonderful about pizza: Naples. When I scheduled an impromptu trip to Italy in February, I knew the coastal city would be firmly on my agenda and that a meal at a particular pizzeria would top my must-do list.
In her wildly popular memoir Eat, Pray, Love, the movie version of which opened in theaters on August 13th, Elizabeth Gilbert gushes sensationally about the Naples establishment Pizzeria da Michele, “…just go,” she ultimately insists.
So I decided to follow her directive. I arrived in Naples midday on a Wednesday, dropped my bags at my budget hotel in the Centro Storico district and immediately hit the streets to navigate my way to da Michele.
After a couple of wrong turns I finally stumbled upon the restaurant’s unassuming storefront. Unfortunately so had half the city. On a hopeful return later that afternoon the line had mercifully disappeared.
My order of a beer and a “regular” pie (no frills or toppings here other than fresh mozzarella and basil sprigs) arrived in minutes. The pizza, true to Gilbert’s assertion, was delicious – the crust (in my opinion the true measure of a pizza’s greatness) an impeccable equilibrium of salty and sweet with a sublimely chewy consistency.
And yes, like Gilbert, I ate the whole thing (though this is hardly impressive – she ordered a second).
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On my way to pay my tab (arguably the happiest six euros I’ve ever spent) I spotted a photograph of Julia Roberts, who plays Gilbert in the film, surrounded by the pizzeria’s staff. I pointed to it and grinned at one of the bakers. He responded with a shrug and a wan smile, and then returned to focusing on the work at hand. I nodded my approval. Pizza, particularly this pizza, takes categorical precedence over movie stars.
Pizzeria da Michele
Napoli – Via Cesare Sersale, 1/3
(angolo Via P. Colletta)
+081 553 9204