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Pizzaiolo del Presidente - Napoli's Most Famous Pizzeria

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Eat like a president for 5 Euros in one of Napoli's most famous pizzeria.

In July 1994, an American tourist entered Pizzeria Cacialli in Naples, Italy, and changed the restaurant's name forever. Caciallis is one of the top pizzerias in Naples, world capital of pizza. The tourist was US President Bill Clinton and Cacialli became Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente - 'The President's Pizza baker'.

This restaurant enjoys a cult following amongst the locals. Tourists also know about it but do not come in hordes as it is located in a working class district in downtown Naples, infested with purse-snatching centaurs, those thieves on motorcycle who snatch bags, cameras, phone and of course their favorite, Rolex watches. A local paper - Cronache di Napoli - reported no less than four Rolex-snatching on the day I visited this restaurant, excluding any other brand. No matter what watch you wear, if you are not with the Foreign Legion, I recommend you take a taxi. This being said if there is nothing grabbable on your person you will probably be all right even on foot. And Via dei Tribunali is a beautiful, picturesque street that has been on the map for nearly 2000 years - very atmospheric.

Watch the pizzaiolo (Italian for pizza chef - photo) prepare my pizza Margherita and try to guess the secret to the world's best pizza:

The first secret is in the dough, and it is prepared secretly at night and nobody will tell you how they do it. Oh yes, flour, water, salt yeast and a drop of fire resistant oil, but how do you get a paper thin dough that will puff and become crusty in 30 seconds flat - that I don't know.

The pizzaiolo stretches the dough to make a flat disc which he covers with a thin layer of tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes. He then adds crumbles of fresh, quality mozzarella. You are unlikely to find mozzarella half this good abroad. That's the second secret - fresh ingredients of the highest quality. There is just nowhere you can hide a bad ingredient in such a simple dish prepared in front of the clients.

A basil leaf and the pizzaiolo grabs and egg to break it over my pizza. The restaurant makes mostly pizza margherita, the most simple and basic pizza there is. Each pizza on the menu differs from the others by one or two ingredients at most. The third secret is: do not to change a recipe that works, especially if it's simple.

With amazing dexterity, the pizzaiolo quickly swivels the pizza around to ensure a circular shape.

With one sharp movement, the chef slides the paper-thin pizza on a wooden paddle without altering its shape. That's the fourth secret - dexterity one attains after making 2000 pizzas a day for a few years.

In it goes in the 300°C + wood fired oven. Mr Cacialli let me put my camera right in the oven's mouth. My lens almost melted. The oven bottom is extremely hot and the pizza bubbles and browns in a matter of seconds. After 30 seconds flat it is ready to eat. This is the fifth and last secret - a white hot wood fired brick oven. The turnaround time is about 5 minutes between order and the pizza being delivered.

The finished pizza - crispy, juicy, gorgeous. You'll find pizzas nearly as good but you'll never find better.

The white stuff is not mozzarella but coagulated egg white. The yolk, disguised as a tomato slice, is at 9 o'clock.

Just because Clinton ate there doesn't mean this place has become a tourist trap - it hasn't. The US President didn't walk in by chance, but because this was arguably the finest pizzeria in town. And where else can you eat like a President for 5 Euros?

Il pizzaiolo del presidente
di Ernesto Cacialli
Via Tribunali, 120/121
Tel. 081.210903
Closed on Sunday
www.ilpizzaiolodelpresidente.it

Published 21/05/2007
141070 views


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16 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by parshu.naraynan
  • on: 19/06/2007
My mouth had been watering since I saw this. To my delight, right across the road from my office block in hot & dusty old Gurgaon, a suburb of Delhi, I found a restaurant called Tonino which has a tie-up with a restaurant in Italy by the same name. They delivered a wood-fire oven pizza which was pretty similar visually to the FX pic, which they claimed was made with dough and cheese imported from Italy though its probably pretty far from it taste-wise. Still, I had fun
  • #2
  • Comment by pietro
  • on: 07/09/2007
La pizza napoletana é la vera pizza nel mondo non cé una uguale.Lo dice un Napoletano que emigró 57 anni fá
  • #3
  • Comment by George Nathaniel Cobb Clark II
  • on: 29/09/2007
I like a lot of pasta and as I were looking . Knowing me and my eyes with the taste buds. I would say deliscious and surprising. Wonderful clear shot. Thanx for asking.. Sincerely,   George , Newport News, Va.
  • #4
  • Comment by Jacqui
  • on: 08/10/2007
This looks soo good. I would love to go to Italy, and when I do, I'll go and eat this pizza. Did you see the Heston Blumenthal show where he tries to replicate the pizza he had there? Well worth watching! Anyway, keep writing these blogs, I really look forward to each new entry!
  • #5
  • Comment by Nick
  • on: 10/01/2008
Two friends and I were in Napoli the summer of 2007, and were directed to this holiest of pizza holies by a friendly vespa courier in front of the train station.  It really is the best pizza we ever had, or will ever have.  If you get lost on the way there, as we did, just ask any local for "pizzeria molto bene."
  • #6
  • Comment by Luca
  • on: 16/01/2008
Nice article but... egg on the top of a pizza... come on!!I am sure it was your request: no pizza is prepared with eggs on top!
  • #7
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 16/01/2008
Luca, you must be Neapolitan living abroad to feel so strongly about your pizza! In fact it is one of the few pizzas offered on the menu and nothing special for me. If you feel that breaking an egg on a pizza should be like breaking the law I suggest you bring it up with the owner of Pizzaiolo del Presidente. I am sure he will answer you. Thanks anyway for the visit!
  • #8
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 16/01/2008
Excellent idea Nick, the locals in Napoli all have very clear ideas about which pizzeria they like best. That's how I found the guy who made the pizza fritta.
  • #9
  • Comment by susie
  • on: 02/11/2008
Just got back from Bolognetta, Sicily to vist relatives and was treated to homemade pizza like the ones in Napoli.  I watched my cousin mix semolina, water and yeast together on a table, adding more water as needed until the flour could take no more and had a soft dough.  THEN she added the olive oil, kneading it in as she had the water.  With oily hands she pinched handfulls from the ball and rounded then out.  They were placed between 2 blankets to rise for one hour only.  Then they were flattened, dressed and cooked in a wood oven...puffed and crusty.
  • #10
  • Comment by Paul Hopkins
  • on: 15/01/2009
Just returned from a trip to Rome and Naples, and we had a terrific dinner at the "President's" pizzeria.  For three or four euros we each (and there were 12 of us) got a whole, fresh pizza.  Delicious!
  • FX's answer→ Paul if only Naples was not such a dangerous place (it really is!) I'd vote it one of the best cities in Europe. The food is so superlative and affordable (as long as you count euros, not calories), and the streets are oozing 2000 years of history. Great place.

  • #12
  • Comment by clarissa
  • on: 16/06/2009
Seven years ago I rented a room in my london flat, a young man from italy took the room, last week my family and i met him in italy, he is from salerno and he took us to napoli for the finest pizza that i will ever eat! no superlative will be too much, quite simply this was the best pizza that i shall ever eat, infact i advised him that I could never eat pizza again unless it was at il presidente a visit here is essential, do not go to napoli without eating here, also the macroni breadcrumb 'dumplings' were sublimehappy eating!
  • FX's answer→ Yes, indeed, presidential food it is!

  • #14
  • Comment by Barbara
  • on: 09/02/2010
Can you send me the recipe for the macaroni stuffed with cheese and peas that they serve at this pizza place, please?  I had it 5 years ago and still dream about it and cant find it anywhere.  Arancini isnt the same.  Thanks.
  • #15
  • Comment by Brian
  • on: 20/12/2010
I wish we had egg yolks that gorgeous here in the states. It looks almost a orange-y color. Ours are a pale yellow.
  • #16
  • Comment by Tom
  • on: 26/04/2011
Best pizza. Period !

My friend, a native Napolitano, brought my family there for dinner in year 2009. Best friend, best pizza, and the cheese ball (?) is great too :)

Tom from Hong Kong

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