A day in Naples and the best pizza in the world. Gino Sorbillo’s review.

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Vesuvius volcano.

Naples is like a lioness, beautiful, haughty and arduous to tame. The collective consciousness about the third city of Italy is made up of diehard preconceptions: a poor, anarchic and at times dirty urban centre on the slopes of a volcano. I’m not here to say this is just not true, because each and every stereotype always has a pinch of accuracy. Also, if the essence of a community remains strong throughout centuries, not necessarily the said people won’t open to change for the needs that modern times demand. What I would like to point out here is that although I come from a region that borders with Campania (the region where Naples is the main centre) and my dialect is strictly similar to the Neapolitan one, due to centuries of Neapolitan domination in the fragmented South, I also had preconceptions. I had them because the last time I visited the city I was about ten, and well, almost 20 years ago the situation was a bit different than it is now. The neglected architecture of the buildings always stays the same, just as some grotesque “personalities” you can find in the narrow alleys that form the map of the city centre. However, this time Naples felt cleaner and safer. It’s true that Christmas is a busy period for the city, because tourists from every part of Italy and the world hit the San Gregorio Armeno alley, to visit the artisan workshops specialised in the creations of nativity scenes. For this reason it would be only logical to consider the hard work of the municipality as something special for the holiday season, but apparently the city is dealing with an actual desire to change, in order to make the ancient capital of southern Italy a modern European city. Some results are already showing, just like the project Stations of Art which is aimed at changing the perspective of the city’s perception by allowing contemporary artist to take over the design and architecture of some underground stations. In fact in 2012 Toledo station was chosen as the most beautiful underground station in Europe

The wonderful mosaic of Toledo underground station in Naples. Project by the Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. Credits: The New York Times

Where does food place itself in this context of traditions looking at the future? Exactly in harmony with everything else. Street food is a market that lures young entrepreneurs, because they have the chance to offer the classics of Neapolitan gastronomy in a new light by enhancing the traditional preparation methods, using quality Italian products and social networks to promote their business in the quickest way to the public. This is just what happened with the famous Gino Sorbillo’s pizza that I finally had the chance to try. Gino Sorbillo for whom pizza making runs in the family, is a young talented chef. His passion for the traditional Neapolitan pizza motivated him to improve it by researching and experimenting with mother dough, different organic flour blends and ingredients in order to find an excellent and easy to digest recipe. Gino Sorbillo’s research never stops, in fact it seems that he is trying to create a dough specifically for coeliac disease affected people with the same texture, taste and digestibility of the regular one used in his 3 pizzerias. The ingredients used as toppings are all the best Italian products the country can offer, with their origin and traceability stated on the menu. In other words, Quality. Yes, with capital Q.

Now let’s talk about the experience: image10 The location. You’ll recognise it from afar even though you’ve never been there before, because there’s always a queue that looks endless. You have to be patient, because sometimes it’s necessary to wait hours to get a taste of the best pizza in Italy (and the world in my opinion). My advice is to go either at the opening around 12 or after lunch time at 3. This doesn’t mean you will not queue at all, because as I said the place is always packed with people, but the wait is more “human”. image3 The pizzeria is an ancient two storey house, property of Esterina, Gino’s beloved aunt who passed the passion for pizza on to him. The decor is minimal because all the attention is concentrated on the product. Anyway, in my opinion it wouldn’t harm to modernise the retro style of the place, but retro is not to be intended as the vintage design that is so trendy right now. I am talking about 90’s Italian, so last century!

The service is very fast even though the waitresses aren’t smiley or chatty. I would have certainly appreciated some more courtesy, but I understand that heavy shifts and dealing with every kind of people at a fast pace can get easily on everyone’s nerves. For this reason, there’s no tablecloth on the table and glasses are disposable, just like their napkins. When customers are ready to leave, a waitress comes and cleans the table in a few seconds, so it’s ready for the next group of people.

The pizza. The base is light and soft but doesn’t tear up. This is the result of working the dough and stretching it by hand only, because Sorbillo refuses to use industrial machineries. To those who are not familiar with Neapolitan pizza the dough will taste as still raw, but believe me, it’s not. You will realise it immediately, because after eating you pizza you will not feel full and bloated. As I mentioned before, high-digestibility.

My Osvaldo pizza.

My Osvaldo pizza.

I got an Osvaldo pizza which is made with cherry tomatoes, smoked mixed buffalo&cow’s milk provola cheese, mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella, extravirgin olive oil and fresh basil. Only 5€.

Vittorio pizza.

Vittorio pizza.

G got Vittorio, an amazing mix of Apulian tuna, Taggiasca olives, Mount Saro’s wild oregano, Italian organic passata and mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella. Price was 7.50€.

My vote is 9. Sorbillo’s pizza is extraordinary, the best I’ve ever had, because it is a combination of harmonic quality ingredients with a digestible dough, basically the dream. I can’t give more than 9, because some aspects of the overall experience can definitely be improved, but of course I recommend you to try Sorbillo’s amazing pizza because, I can assure you, nothing will ever be the same after that.

Gino Sorbillo, Via dei Tribunali, 32, 80138 Naples.

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July’s favourites: 5 London’s independent coffee shops that I love

Monmouth Coffee @Borough Market during my last visit. Coffee blend is Gichatha-ini from Kenya.

Flat White @ Monmouth. The blend is Gichatha-ini from Kenya.

My day doesn’t start until I get my cup of coffee. Not just because it wakes me up more quickly, but just because it’s a comforting habit, that takes different forms according to the context: from my Dad’s strong espresso back in Italy, to my much bigger paper cup and different blends in the UK or when I’m lucky enough to travel around the world.

I admit that in the first place coffee abroad meant to me the famous green siren logo, but there definitely was something else out there to try, and I had to try it. Needless to say that after the first independent coffee, it’s impossible to go back.

I always like to try a different one and these are my 4 favourite coffee shops that I discovered this month in London, plus my all time favourite that I always go back to.

Nude Espresso – This coffee shop has its own roastery where the staff takes good care of their coffee beans from the start, when they are still green. The House Blend has, according to my taste buds, a taste of licorice with a softer aftertaste, medium body and low acidity. Just to clarify, I’m not an expert, just a person who really loves coffee.

Nude Espresso, 26 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR (their roastery is just opposite the coffee shop and it’s open to public from Wednesday to Sunday)

 

Prufrock – Nice and cool atmosphere just as their informed and helpful staff. The House blend is light and sweet as it delicately cuddles you while waking you up in the morning.

Prufrock Coffee, 23-25 Leather Lane, London, EC1N 7TE.

 

Allpress Espresso – directly from New Zealand, Allpress team knows how to treat coffee and to prepare an amazing flat white. Their House Blend is sweet with caramel notes and low acidity, which makes it the ideal partner for milk.

FW@allpress

Flat White @ Allpress

The staff is not only very helpful, but also smiling and relaxed, which also leads customers to peacefully enjoy their coffee break, or their superb breakfast!

Allpress Espresso, 58 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London, E2 7DP.

 

Kaffeine – Another Australian/New Zealand coffee shop that perfected the art of Coffee Making. Their House Blend is a balance of sweetness and acidity, perfect, again, with milk to achieve an excellent flat white. They are Australian afterall!

Kaffeine’s supplier is Square Mile, one of the most awarded roasteries in the world.

Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield St, London W1W 7QJ.

 

Monmouth – well if you say independent coffee, you say Monmouth. This is my favourite coffee shop, the one I always find myself going back to. The reason is simple: there is the possibility to try their different blends for any coffee drink, just ask the highly knowledgeable staff. They will advise you on the kind of blend is better for the drink of your choice and your personal tastes. Then they will grind the exact quantity they need for your coffee and within minutes you’ll have it there, ready for you to enjoy it.

My advice is the House Blend if you like a smooth and sweet taste that reminds of almonds and chocolate, but if you want to try something with more body and acidity, try the Brazilian Fazenda da Lagoa, amazing for espresso.

FW@Monmouth

Flat White @ Monmouth. Brazilian Blend Fazenda da Lagoa (sky blue label)

Monmouth, 27 Monmouth Street Covent Garden London WC2H 9EU

 

I hope you guys enjoy these coffee shops as much as I do, not only for their high quality ingredients but also for the expert staff who is willing to help the customers and share the good coffee culture. And no, they will not misspell your name on the paper cup, which for me is a big thumbs up.

 

And now in Italian.

La mia giornata non inizia finché non bevo il mio caffè. Non perché mi svegli più in fretta, ma perché è un’abitudine che mi rassicura, e che cambia secondo dove mi trovo: dall’espresso ristretto di mio padre in Italia, alla mia cup di carta e le diverse miscele qui in Inghilterra, o quando ho la fortuna di viaggiare per il mondo.

Ammetto che all’inizio, associavo il caffè al di fuori dei confini italiani al bicchierone di carta con il famoso logo della sirena verde, ma sapevo che c’era sicuramente qualcos’altro là fuori e dovevo provarlo. Inutile dire che, dopo il primo caffè indipendente non si torna più indietro.

Mi piace sempre provarne uno diverso e questi sono i miei 4 caffè preferiti che ho scoperto in questo mese in giro per Londra, più quello che amo da sempre e in cui torno spesso:

 

Nude Espresso – Questo caffè ha la propria torrefazione dove il personale si prende cura dei chicchi di caffè fin dall’inizio, quando sono ancora verdi.

La miscela della casa ha, secondo le mie papille gustative, un sapore di liquirizia, con un retrogusto più morbido, di corpo medio e bassa acidità. Comunque io non sono esperta del settore, ma solo una persona che ama veramente il caffè.

Nude Espresso, 26 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR (la torrefazione è proprio di fronte alla caffetteria ed è aperto al pubblico dal Mercoledì alla Domenica)

 

Prufrock Atmosfera piacevole e giovane, proprio come il loro personale, competente e disponibile. La miscela della casa è leggera e dolce come una coccola delicata che ti sveglia dolcemente.

Prufrock Coffee, 23-25 ​​Leather Lane, Londra, EC1N 7TE.

 

Allpress Espresso – Direttamente dalla Nuova Zelanda, la squadra di Allpress sa come trattare il caffè e preparare un flat white straordinario. La loro miscela della casa è dolce, con note di caramello e bassa acidità, che lo rende il partner ideale per il latte.

Il personale non solo è molto disponibile, ma anche sorridente e rilassato, il che permette anche ai clienti di godersi la pausa caffè in pace. Oppure la loro colazione, che è superlativa!

Allpress Espresso, 58 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, Londra, E2 7DP.

 

Kaffeine – Un altro locale Australiano/Neo Zelandese che ha perfezionato l’arte del caffè. La loro miscela della casa è un equilibrio di dolcezza e acidità, perfetto, ancora una volta, con il latte per ottenere un ottimo flat white. Dopotutto, sono australian!

Il fornitore di Kaffeine è Square Mile, una delle torrefazioni più premiate al mondo.

Kaffeine, 66 Great Titchfield St, Londra W1W 7QJ.

 

Monmouth – Se dico caffè indipendente, penso subito a Monmouth. Questo è il mio caffè preferito, quello in cui torno sempre. Il motivo è semplice: c’è la possibilità di provare le loro diverse miscele per qualsiasi tipo di caffè si scelga, basta chiedere al personale che è altamente competente. Vi consiglieranno la migliore miscela per la vostra bevanda, rispettando anche i vostri gusti personali. Poi macineranno la quantità esatta di chicchi di cui hanno bisogno per il vostro caffè, e in pochi minuti sarà pronto per essere gustato.

Consiglio la miscela della casa se vi piace un gusto morbido e dolce che ricorda le mandorle e il cioccolato, ma, se volete provare qualcosa di più corposo e con media acidità, allora chiedete la miscela brasiliana Fazenda da Lagoa, che è ideale per l’espresso.

Monmouth, 27 Monmouth Street Covent Garden Londra WC2H 9EU.

 

Spero che vi piacciano questi caffè tanto quanto piacciono a me, non solo per i loro ingredienti di alta qualità, ma anche per il personale esperto che è disposto ad aiutare i clienti e condividere la cultura del buon caffè. E no, non sbaglieranno a scrivere il vostro nome sulla cup di carta, che per me è molto molto positivo.