L’Antique Pizzeria Da Michele is one of the most famous restaurants in Naples – the pizza capital of the world. As well as hosting VIP guests such as Jude Law, it was also featured in Julia Robert’s film Eat, Pray, Love. It’s a long way from the restaurant’s roots when, in 1870, Salvatore Condurro started making fired pizza in an alley to help make ends meet. In 1904, due to his success, his son Michele decided to open a real pizzeria.
But family ambitions haven’t stopped there, with branches opening in Japan in 2012 and 2015 – rebranded at Da Michele. And the family is now ready to make a new investment taking Da Michele from Cesare Sersale Street, Naples, to Church Street, Stoke Newington.
And locals – especially those with Italian heritage – can’t wait for the doors to open towards the end of November. It will be a bit like going back home,’ says Gianluca Nazzaro, who moved to London from his native Naples three years ago. ‘I used to go to Da Michele every Sunday with my family. That place serves the best pizza I have ever eaten, and the atmosphere is just magical.’
The London restaurant – a former pub – can seat 80 and has been decorated in traditional Italian style with old photographs telling the story of the Condurro family, giving a cosy and warm vibe to the place.
‘The charm of a Naples pizzeria that it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,’ explains Alessandro Condurro, who is in charge of the franchising project. ‘But we will try to recreate the same atmosphere here.’
That authenticity also comes through in the menu; originally, Da Michele served a variety of local pizzas, but with the advent of World War II locals opted for the cheapest offerings – Marinara (tomato and rosemary) and Margherita (cheese and tomato) – and these are the only pizza’s the restaurant has served ever since, made from Italian ingredients, such as Fiordilatte cheese from Agerola and flour from Caputo. However the London menu will also include some appetizers and draft beers.
Many of the staff are also native to Napoli. Marco Condurro is taking charge of the British business and is part of the fifth generation of the family still working at Da Michele. And what do the family elders think? ‘They’re happy to be exporting a bit of Naples abroad and to introduce younger people to our food and culture.’