Of all the times I have been to Italy pizza just never seems to feature much in the food itinerary. I’m not sure if it’s just too typically Italian or there’s just an abundance of other great dishes available but the humble pie rarely gets a look-in. Until this trip….
My last ‘proper’ pizza out of a wood fire and made to Neapolitan specification was all the way back in 2008 in Sorrento by the Amalfi coast. A long trip from London on very little food maybe made the eating experience all the more heavenly as we munched our way through a Naples classic topped with Parma ham and buffalo mozzarella, it was every bit as good as it sounds.
So that got my mind ticking and straight into the process of looking for authentic pizza in Florence. Many fast food or tourist trap places do a version of pizza, you can find this easily all over the city in the usual popular areas but why pay €10-12 for a half-arsed attempt at a classic when you can get the real deal for less?
Pizza Napoli 1955 ticked all the boxes. It was central, right behind the Uffizi gallery, but just hidden enough for the mainstream of tourists to walk by without noticing. The place had a simple menu of seven pizza’s all priced at no more than €8. The staff are friendly and speak good English in case you need it and in the corner sits a fridge full of cold beer. As first impressions go, this was a good one.
The added bonus for people who love watching artisans at work (such as me) is that the counter is an open one and you can see the pizza chef at work creating your chosen pie. The only slight drawback was that the ovens the pizzeria have are electric and not the wood-fired kind that I was hoping for.
We arrived in the early evening, just as the people and tourists are starting to make plans for dinner. So it came as no surprise that the place was pretty quiet other than a table of tourists and a few on the outside chairs taking in the street atmosphere as the sun began to set. It was a tremendously hot day in Florence so we were most grateful for the giant fan we managed to sit next to.
Pizza’s arrived with a couple of cold Peroni’s. As is customary in Italy you eat a pizza not with your hands but with a knife and fork. Straight away I tucked into the crust on my bufala pizza, made up of traditional tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. The flavour took me right back to Sorrento, a richness in the dough that comes from overnight proofing and that produces the lightest crunch.
The tomatoes always seem to taste so much better in this part of the world. When they mingle with the cheese and basil something magic happens, this is the art of the simplicity that Italian cooking is all about. Ali’s prosciutto pizza was equally as good as we split each others for the benefit of sampling.
The only slight drawback was the intense flavour that the wood-fired oven gives, that kind of smokiness to the crust from touching the oven floor and the tomatoes seem to roast more bringing the sweetness out even more. Still, basing the review on the location of Pizza Napoli 1955 and what you receive for your money, this is very good food.
To pay the bill, simply approach the counter. Bizarrely they asked us what we had before we got the bill in full but there was nothing off putting about the experience and when we next head to Florence this place undoubtedly will be on the short-list of establishments to grab a bite at.
Pizza Bufala €8 (£7.15)
Pizza Prosciutto €7 (£6.26)
Peroni 330ml €4.50 (£4.02)
Cover Charge (Coperto) €1 (£0.89)
Opening hours: Daily 1100-2200