It is often said that, if you wish to eat authentic food, you need to try it at its authentic source. Website TasteAtlas.com has become the main point of reference for exactly that – “local food around the world”. Still, when it comes to Neapolitan pizza, I have had some of the best outside of Naples: L'Antica Pizzeria in London, UK and Ruspante in Sinac, Croatia, to name but a few.
So, when I was invited to try NAP (Neapolitan Authentic Pizza) in Palma, my expectations were quite high despite geographical distance from Naples. I was a little apprehensive of the fact that this restaurant formed a part of a chain, but I should not have been.
My friend Matija and I were greeted by smiley Giancarlo (a Neapolitan, not Italian!) who promptly pointed to NAP's motto on his T-shirt: “35cm of pleasure”, referring to their pizza's precise size. We looked at the menu for a while, but decided to ask Giancarlo for his recommendation instead.
To start with, we shared “Melanzane alla Parmigiana” - a baked dish that comes in a hot clay pot, filled with layers of aubergine, homemade tomato sauce and melted cheese, decorated with a couple of basil leaves, for an additional burst of colour and a fresh smell. It came with several slices of excellent crusty white bread, baked in the pizza oven. I have only ever had this dish at friends' houses before, and it tasted exactly as I remember it - wholesome and homely.
While waiting for our pizza to share, we studied the menu again and commented that we much prefer this relatively short list of pizzas (about 15 pizzas) to the places that had several dozens of pizzas to choose from, making an ordering process a very lengthy affair. Giancarlo said that they were doing everything with a “poco y bien” (little and well) philosophy in mind. NAP's menu was both informative and educational. It taught is that their pizza was baked at 485C for 60 seconds in an artisan “Stefano Ferrara” stone oven. Imagine all the trial and error that went in, before someone proclaimed: “That's it! That's a perfect pizza!” Their dough consists of only four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast – nothing more.
Giancarlo suggested we go for “Salsiccia e Friarielli”, a white pizza (without tomato sauce) made with mozzarella, a slightly spicy sausage and flowers of an Italian broccoli. Apparently these ingredients are typical for the region south of Napoli. When it came out, we were very pleased with both the look and the smell of it. The taste was slightly strong, a little unusual, but we thoroughly enjoyed and – with some hesitation by the time we got to the last slice – finished it all. The dough was wafer thin at the bottom, with a thicker, chewy crust around. Even with quite a heavy filling, this pizza was very light and I did not feel bloated at all. Giancarlo explained the science behind that too: something about the perfect percentage of water in the dough.
As we were scoffing slice after slice of this delicious Neapolitan pizza, I had a direct view of the kitchen. With the rush hour behind us (we were amongst the last three tables still lingering around), the pizzaiolo was picking basil leaves of the stalk, one by one, and placing them in a storage container, ready for the next flush of pizza orders. Then we saw him making dough, cutting it into smaller balls, ready to be stretched as needed. I was particularly impressed with the fact that he weighted each ball, adding or removing bits of dough as he went along. This pizza making business really is quite a precise science!
When it came to desert, I insisted that we have some Tiramisu. It was served in a glass, large enough for two. Now, this was up there with the best tiramisus I have ever had: light, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth creamy, with just the faintest hint of alcohol!
Having a pizza at NAP was nothing like any experience I have had in chain restaurants so far. From the service, to the food, to the décor of the place – exposed brick walls, mixed with wood panels and cool industrial lighting, with hints of aquamarine blue on the furniture – NAP felt inviting and personal. Giancarlo cared that we were happy, without being in our faces all the time.
We concluded our visit with an obligatory shot of limoncello, served in tall thin shot glasses. I don't know enough about alcohol, but Matija, whose family also makes limoncello, assured me that this one was of a very high quality. To me, it tasted good, and it perfectly rounded this Neapolitan experience. I think that I might have just found my new favourite pizza place in Palma!
To be able to write a comment, you have to be registered and logged in
You forgot to give us the address... Where in Santa Catalina is it?