It takes my husband a lot to leave the island of Capri, so I know he really loves me when he agreed to go over to Naples for the promise of a superior pizza. After all, Naples is the birthplace of my most beloved carb (… after pasta, of course). However, not all pizza is created equal. Neapolitan pizza has a very thin crust at the base with dough that puffs up around the edges and provides an airy crust. The dough must be made with a highly refined Italian type 001 wheat flour. The pizza must be cooked in a wood fire oven that is heated to 400 degrees celsius and cooked for only 60-90 seconds. It is typically topped with the finest quality puréed San Mariano tomato. The cheese is either fior di latte, made from cow milk, or mozzarella di Bufala, made from water buffalo milk. Then it is topped with fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil. They must be simple, all-natural ingredients.
Pizzeria Concettina ai Tre Santi is located in the heart of the historical, working-class neighbourhood of Sanita, about a fifteen-minute drive from the port. This pizzeria has been run by the Oliva family for over sixty years and is now in its fourth generation. The current chef, Ciro Oliva is in his twenties and has reinvented the restaurant under his leadership into a hip establishment while retaining its traditional roots. It has now become modern and imaginative. Ciro made the experience even more memorable with his charm, warmth and exuberance.
We left our lunch in Ciro’s capable hands and he created an extravaganza of carb delights. One of my favourite dishes was a sandwich with zucchini, prosciutto, and cheese that was to die for. The typical Margarita pizza was stellar. Apparently, they also serve one with yellow tomatoes that is supposed to also be out of this world. You can immediately taste the quality of the dough. If you were to buy just a margarita pizza, it only sells for 8 Euros, a very reasonable price. We also enjoyed a pizza fritta that was rolled in a sauce that is reduced for a long time, sprinkled with fresh cut basil from the plant on our table, and drizzled with olive oil. My husband declared it, “f–king amazing!”.
One disappointment was the use of white truffles in the dishes. They were absolutely tasteless and definitely not in season in July. I would have gone with the more seasonal and flavourful black truffle. We tried two of the truffle dishes and the pizza was still incredible, even buttered with fresh butter under the truffles. Our second truffle dish was more carbs, fried, stuffed with cheese, and topped with truffles and a slow-cooked sweet onion sauce. I preferred a simple pizza with tons of fluffy grated cheese or the fresh salmon on a pizza topped with caviar, the chef even placed a big schmear on the back of our hands to lick off.
There is a small, but ambitious wine list and we were up-sold on a Gaja, which in hindsight, wasn’t necessary with the pizza. A glass of local wine from Campania would have suited just fine. Following our entrees, we were given a medley of chocolates and desserts and a delicious digestif cocktail from Sicily. After our meal, Chef Ciro showed us his private wine cellar located around the corner from the restaurant. This is a restaurant where the actual hype meets reality.
All in all, we were enamored with our delicious lunch and impressed with this well-established, yet ambitious and energetic little Naples restaurant. The verdict: my husband had no regrets about spending the afternoon in Naples. He even said he would come back next year.