Italy and its ancient civilizations have had an immeasurable impact on western culture, but one of the biggest marks that Italy has left on the world is through its food. The Mediterranean peninsula gave us pasta, polenta, great gelato, and even better coffee, but you can’t talk about Italian cuisine without honoring the humble pizza pie.
Italians have been making tasty topped flatbreads for centuries and the word ‘pizza’ was actually first documented as far back as 997 AD in Gaeta. Still, it was until the 19th century that the Margherita was born out of Naples, kickstarting the modern pizza revolution.
From the terracotta-tiled roofs of Florence to the Renaissance streets of Rome, and of course all the way to gritty Naples and the Amalfi coast, great pizza is made all over the country and these are just some of the most famous pizza places in Italy that you have to visit in your lifetime. Let’s get into it.
Pizzeria Brandi, Naples
As the birthplace of pizza, it’s no surprise that Naples comes first on this list. Pizza pie evolved from flatbreads that have been around since the 18th century, but pizzaiolo, Raffaele Esposito, was credited for the invention of the Neapolitan Margherita, which he named after the queen when she visited the city in 1889.
So where did Esposito come up with his creation? None other than Pizzeria Brandi, one of the most famous pizza places in Italy—not to mention the world.
Pizzeria Brandi serves up pizza with a slice of history. The restaurant opened in 1780 and has been feeding guests the original pizza Margheritas for over 100 years. Family-owned by the Paganis, Brandi is still as rustic as ever with a cozy and traditional set-up, wood-fired ovens, and rickety outdoor seating.
The Margherita pizza has to be first on your agenda when choosing off the menu here, but all of the ingredients and toppings that go into these illustrious pizzas reflect the soul and great quality of Campanian cuisine. They also do great seafood pasta and desserts. The shop is located at the entrance of the Spanish Quarters in Naples, overlooking via Chiaja with its boutique stores and corner cafes.
Address: Salita S. Anna di Palazzo, 1/2, 80132 Napoli NA, Italy
Contact: +39 081 416928, pizzeriabrandi.com
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 12.40 pm – 4 pm, 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm, Sunday, 12.30 pm – 11.30 pm.
It might not be the most conventional pizza place in Italy with its long rectangular slices piled high with toppings, but it’s every bit as Roman as it gets at Pizzarium. Gabriele Bonci, the revolutionary restaurant owner, has been dubbed the Michelangelo of pizza for his tiny bakery where they serve up the tastiest pizza-by-the-slice this north of Naples.
Nestled close to the Vatican Museums, Pizzarium has become a landmark pizzeria and it’s always crowded, but hot slices of thin Roman pizza are never too long of a wait away. The shop is one of Rome’s most influential food spots and the humble fast food has been elevated to an art form by Bonci.
You’ll find simple classics like marinara and basil to wacky combinations like pimiento and pine nuts or mozzarella and potato—a particular crowd favorite. The restaurant is just over 500 square feet and it’s always crowded, but there’s nowhere to sit so turnovers are fast and it’s definitely worth the queues.
Address: Via Della Meloria, 43, 00136 Roma RM, Italy
Contact: +39 06 3974 5416, bonci.it
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11 am to 10 pm, Sunday 11 am – 3 pm, 5 pm to 10 pm, Closed Mondays.
In fair Verona where we lay our scene, Simone Padoan has been praised for reinventing gourmet pizza and Tigli is the place to try it. This Michelin Guide Restaurant shares Romeo and Juliet’s quaint town setting, but the pizza here is far from traditional with toppings like beef tartare, cod and polenta, prawn sashimi, and beef cheeks gracing the menus.
One thing Padoan does respect about the age-old pizza-making traditions of his ancestors is the importance of good dough. Perfect in rise, consistency, and digestibility, each topping compliments the base, and Padoan constantly plays with colors, flavors, and textures, to create a game in his guests’ mouths.
The pizzas are designed to be sharing food, but this is far from a rustic establishment with its sleek interior, decadent ingredients, and prices to match. Visitors are also especially fond of the delicate desserts.
Address: Via Camporosolo, 11, 37047 San Bonifacio VR, Italy
Contact: +39 045 610 2606, pizzeriaitigli.it
Opening Hours: Thursday to Tuesday, 12 pm to 2 pm, 7 pm to 10 pm, Closed Wednesdays.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, Naples
Another one of Naples’ oldest and most-loved pizzerias, da Michele opened its doors way back in 1870 and is one of the most famous pizza places in Italy, if not the world. Da Michele is Michelin-Guide rated, despite the effortlessly stripped-back menu offering just pizza Margherita and marinara—since Neapolitans hardly ever order anything else. And the restaurant was actually one of the filming locations for Julia Robert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and rightly so, being a Neapolitan institute and emblem of Campanian cuisine.
A wood-fired oven occupies the cozy restaurant space, where diners are crammed in shoulder to shoulder at small wooden tables. There’s always a long queue out the door and visitors need to take numbered tickets when they join in order to make sure they get served.
Da Michele belongs to the AVPN, or the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, a regulatory board in the city designed to protect the traditional art of pizza-making. This means you can guarantee that da Michele adheres to the time-tested regulations about dough leavening, stretching, and the 90-second maximum that a pizza can stay in the oven. They also use only the finest local ingredients for their toppings, and at just 7 euros for a pizza pie, this one is not to be missed.
Address: Via Cesare Sersale, 1, 80139 Napoli NA, Italy
Contact: +39 081 553 9204
Opening Hours: Open daily, 11 am to 11 pm
Serving up time-honored Neapolitan pizza pies in Italy’s cultural capital of Florence, Santarpia is everything you could want from a contemporary pizzeria. The restaurant is housed in a bright and industrial space, with tiled walls and pizza ovens anchored to one side of the room.
Legendary pizzaiolo, Giovanni Santarpia, is no longer in charge of this well-loved Florentine gem, but his methods and recipes are still very much respected. Neapolitan, Michele Leo, mans the ovens today, churning out 150 pizzas a night constructed with the finest Vesuvius tomatoes, Campanian mozzarella, and Amalfi anchovies. If you can’t make it down to the south, Santarpia is the closed you will get.
Dough that’s left to proof for 48 hours is complemented by classic Neapolitan toppings like mozzarella and tomato as well as more creative combinations like burrata and truffle or ricotta, lemon, parsley-pesto, and mullet roe. Don’t miss master pastry chef, Luca Mannori’s, luxurious desserts either, including the celebrated seven veils cake, a rich and layered chocolate gateau traditionally served on birthdays in Sicily.
Santarpia is fast-paced and efficient, but it’s essential to book and you might have to do so far in advance to guarantee a table. Find it behind the Sant’Ambrogio food market in Piazza Lorenzo, Florence.
Address: Via Senese, 155r, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
Contact: +39 055 933 8245, giovannisantarpia.com
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 7.15 pm to 11 pm, Closed Mondays
Pizzeria Starita, Naples
Nestled in Materdei, once an assuming neighborhood between the hustle and bustle of the historic center of Naples and the upper part of the city but now an artist bohemian hub, Starita is one thing that hasn’t changed too much with the times.
This pizzeria has been around since 1901, serving Italian royalty like the Pope to Hollywood actress, Sofia Loren, in its more than a century of operating years. Starita is another slice of pizza-making history in Naples and with the restaurant’s owner, Antonio Starita, being vice president for the AVPN, it should come as no surprise that Starita does traditional Neapolitan pizza the right way.
Starita is also a member of “Le Centenarie”, a body that recognizes and strives to protect Naples’ 10 oldest pizzerias. Expect firm bases with a delicious doughy crust, and don’t miss the fried dough balls served with warm Nutella for dipping as your dessert.
Address: Via Materdei, 27/28, 80136 Napoli NA, Italy
Contact: +39 081 544 1485
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 12 pm to 3.30 pm, 7 pm to 11.30 pm
Pepe in Grani, Caiazza
Pepe in Grani might not be located in Naples, but the traditions of the region are respected and perfectly executed by Franco Pepe, with his pies being some of the best in the world.
Located in Caiazza in Campania, 50 km north of old Napoli, Pepe in Grani perfectly balances modern elegance with time-honored Italian tradition, and not only in the pizzas. With its rustic exposed brick dining room and veranda that’s carved into the ancient walls of an 18th-century building, Pepe in Grani sits at the historic heart of Caiazza and is a part of the furniture in this small city.
Franco Pepe’s dedication to his craft has bought more global tourism to Caiazza than its humble history as the seat of anti-royalist rebellions during the Neapolitan Republic. Pepe is a third-generation pizzaiolo and only the finest local ingredients and fresh produce go into the pies, with Pepe nurturing his relationships with local producers as much as he does with his customers.
Don’t miss the Margherita Sbagliata, also known as the mistaken Margherita comprising mozzarella, a cold tomato reduction, and basil. Reservation is always recommended at Pepe in Grani and make sure you get in there far in advance.
Address: Vicolo S. Giovanni Battista, 3, 81013 Caiazzo CE, Italy
Contact: +39 0823 862718, pepeingrani.it
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 6.30 pm to 12.30 am, Sunday, 12.40 – 3.30 pm, 6.30 pm to 12.30 am, Closed Mondays.
What is the most famous pizza place in Italy?
As the modern birthplace of pizza, Naples is, of course, the most famous destination for pizza lovers to visit, not just in Italy, but the world. You can visit the oldest pizzerias in the country, including L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, the so-called best pizza place in Italy, but also Pizzeria Brandi, where the pizza Margherita was invented.
Which city in Italy has the best food?
Pizza might hail from Naples and Spaghetti Carbonara from Rome, but Bologna is known by many as the culinary capital of Italy. Tagliatelle al ragu (Spaghetti bolognese), Parmigiana reggiono, Prosciutto, Mortadella, Bologna sausage, and Tortellini all originate from this central region. However, most Florentines will argue that their city has some of the best gastronomy in the country, with steaks, mushroom pasta dishes, and wild boar gracing every menu.
Where does Tiramisu come from?
The iconic layered Italian dessert made from cream, cocoa, and espresso-soaked sponge fingers, was invented by Ado Campeol and his wife, who owned the Le Beccherie restaurant in Treviso, northern Italy. Campeol was dubbed “the father of Tiramisu” for his take on the dessert that he started serving up in the 1960s. However, versions of Tiramisu are first thought to have been documented as far back as 1800 in Treviso.