Thursday, September 24, 2009

Julia Roberts Took My Pizza Away

When my family was visiting I took them to my favorite pizza place in the world, Antica Pizzeria "Da Michele" in Naples. The place is legendary and, in my mind, there is not other pizzeria in the world that makes Neapolitan-style pizza. I once asked Sergio Condurro, who is usually situated behind the cash register, what makes Da Michele's pizza so good. He responded, "Five generations of secrets." Ok, I thought, that'd do it.

Unfortunately, when I excitedly approached the restaurant with my family--my mouth salivating and my mind blistering with anticipation--I found the street sectioned off all around the pizzeria: It was Hollywood, ruining my lunch. The Naples polizia, camera crews, lighting crews, and management of all levels were running about in anticipation of an afternoon rainstorm that was encroaching the city. When I asked a nearby guy holding a walkie-talkie what was up, he said that Julia Roberts was inside and that Da Michele was closed for the afternoon.

It all started with Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Eat, Pray, Love, which includes a section when she visits Da Michele. The book is now being made into a movie starring Julia Roberts. When the rainstorm exploded, the camera crew and Julia Roberts left, but Da Michele didn't open its doors. The restaurant did, however, promise to be open for lunch the following day. My family and I walked across the street to Trionan, whose pizza is good but lacks the thinness, chewiness, special olive oil drizzle, and impeccable tomato sauce of Da Michele.


The next day, the line to Da Michele was up both sides of the street and the wait was 30 minutes but at least it was open. The pizza was as good as always, especially without Julia Roberts anywhere in sight.

For an in-depth guide to Napoli-style pizza, check out my article for Europe Up Close. Thanks for reading!

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