Poetry of Pizza at Da Michele

Considering that Da Michele’s pizzas are virtually edible poems, it’s not surprising that poets were inspired to write about them
Two poems on the wall at Da Michele, one by Gennaro Esposito, the other by S. Galante,

For any pizza lover, a trip to L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples, Italy, has to be considered one of the ultimate pizza pilgrimages. There’s little choice there — no extra toppings, just three types of Neapolitan-style pizza: the Marinara (sauce and crust), the Margherita (sauce, cheese, basil, and crust), or the Margherita with extra cheese. Just €5 gets you a pizza and a bottle of Orangina within four minutes. Why is it so good? Without adding to the breathless account in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, it’s not hyperbolic to declare that this will most likely be the best and most pure pizza you will ever eat. At Da Michele it’s about simplicity, quality, and tradition.

The Condurro family has been making fantastic pizza in Naples since 1870. The story goes that Michele Condurro perfected the family art by learning the secrets of dough preparation, kneading, and cooking from the pizza masters in Torre Annunziata, a suburb of Naples. In 1906, Michele opened his first pizzeria, which he was forced to move in 1930 to Via Cesare Sersale when the Ascalesi Hospital was under construction. His instructions and philosophy for making true Neapolitan pizza have been passed down for five generations. Each component is of the highest quality and these components interact in a sublime equation, their ratios perfect: charred to non-charred crust, crust to sauce, crust to cheese, and sauce to cheese — the Platonic ideal in pizza form.

Considering Da Michele’s pizzas are virtually edible poems themselves, it’s not surprising that poets were inspired to write about them. Two signs on the wall add to the simple décor (white walls and a religious statue overlooking the pizzaiolos).

 

They feature poems dedicated to the pizzeria’s two types of pizza: "'A Margarita (To the Margherita)" by Gennaro Esposito (left), and "'A Marinara (To the Marinara)" by S. Galante (right). Esposito (1920-2004) was a popular poet who wrote in the Neapolitan dialect about social issues and his memories of "the old Naples." Galante is harder to find information about, but both poets were said to have been frequent patrons of the pizzeria.

Included below are the poems and their approximate translations:

‘A Margarita To the Margherita
'A quando sta ‘o "benessere" When everything goes "well"
'A gente penza a spennere People can think only of spending
E mò pure ‘o chiù povero And even the poorest man
‘O siente é cumannà; Feels the right to give orders;
Voglio una pizza a vongole "I want a pizza with clams
Chiena é funghette e cozzeche With mushrooms and mussels
Con gamberetti e ostriche With shrimps and oysters
D‘ó mare ‘e sta città. All from the sea of this city.
Al centro poi ce voglio At the center I want
‘N’uovo datto alla cocca An egg à la coq
E co liguore stok With Stok Liquor
L’avita annaffià. Sprinkled about."
Quando sentenno st’ordine When we heard this order
Ce venne cca’na stizza We were taken aback
Penzanno ma sti pizze, And we thought, "These pizzas,
Songo papocchie o che. Are they disgusting, or what!?"
Ca se rispetta á regola Here you have to respect the rule
Facenno á vera pizza, And make the real thing,
Chella ch‘è nata a Napule The pizza born in Naples
Quase cient’anne fa. Almost 100 years ago.
Chesta ricetta antica This ancient recipe
Si chiamma MARGARITA It’s called MARGHERITA
Ca quanno è fatta arte And when it’s done right
Po ghì nant‘á nu re. You can present it to a king.
Perciò nun e cercate So don’t go looking
Sti pizze complicate For any complicated pizzas
Ca fanno male á sacca, Which will only hurt your wallet
E ó stommaco patì. And your stomach too.
Poesia di G. ESPOSITO A poem of G. ESPOSITO

 

                                                                       

‘A Marinara   To the Marinara  
Cu l’aglio, luoglio ê arecate With garlic, oil and oregano,
Oppure a pummarola Or else with tomato sauce,
Pare na cosa facile It seems a walk in the park,
Fa’ a pizza é na parola. But making pizza is no simple task
N’ce vo na pasta morbida Nothing else but a soft dough,
S’adda sapè n’furná Know-how ‘round the oven,
O gusto é chi pripara Good taste in preparation
Pe nun ve n’tussucá So that you don’t finish poisoned.
A pizza é nata a Napule Pizza originated in Naples
Ma poche in’ dó mestiere But few in this profession
Ve ponne da’ o’ piacere Can give you the pleasure
E farvela mangiá Of having you eat it well.
Surtanto Don Michele Only Don Michele
Che’ fino pasticciere Who is a master baker
Ve fa’ pizza splendida Can make a pizza so splendid
Ca ve fa cunzula’. That you’ll be consoled.
S. Galante S. Galante

L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, Via Sersale Cesare, 1, 80139 Napoli

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