Antica Pizzeria Da Michele: From Naples to Stoke Newington
Let’s admit it, we Londoners are becoming too spoiled. There’s a handful of pizzerias in Naples that can boast an uninterrupted tradition of pizza-making, always maintaining an exceptional level, and now we can enjoy that in Stoke Newington. The history of Da Michele dates back to 1870 when the Condurro family started working in the pizza business; by 1906 their first pizzeria was open and in 1930 they moved to their current location in Naples.
Da Michele’s pizza is one of the most celebrated and there are traces of it also in popular culture: “So Sofie and I have come to Pizzeria Da Michele, and these pies we have just ordered — one for each of us — are making us lose our minds,” says Elizabeth Gilbert in her best-seller Eat, Pray, Love. The book was made into the film starring Julia Roberts: at the pre-opening we spoke with the pizzaiolo who cooked the pizza for her whilst filming, and we tried to find out where the secret lies. “Yes it was me in the movie, although you can see only my chest! The secret is in the simplicity: good tomato, mozzarella and of course the dough,” he said.
Purists believe that the “real” pizzas are only two: Marinara (tomato, oregano, garlic and oil) and Margherita (tomato, mozzarella and basil). Those are in fact the only two options you can find at Da Michele. Also, the shape doesn’t have to be round; they call it a ruota di carro, “wheel-cart shaped”; and the cornicione, the crust, has to be uneven and not too swollen.
We try both of them and they are the real deal. The mozzarella cheese, above all, is sweet and full of flavour; but everything from the dough (made with Caputo flour) to the tomato is exactly as you want it to be.
It took weeks for the team of young pizza makers – who all worked in Naples – to find the perfect temperature (of the room and the water) to leaven the dough. Those are in fact the only variables, the products come from Naples and the custom-made wood-fired oven too: with its 450-500 degrees, it takes only 60 to 90 seconds to make one pizza. Members of the Condurro family were present too and they were impressed with the resemblance to the original.
Time to queue up on the Stoke Newington Church Street pavement and try a bite of history.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Laura Denti/Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, 125 Stoke Newington Church St London N16 0UH, call 020 7687 0009 or visit here.