The pizzeria where food is art and love

Trip Start Jan 11, 2007
1
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Trip End Jan 15, 2010


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Flag of Italy  ,
Friday, April 27, 2007

In Naples, pizza is an art form. Our favorite pizza place is Tony's. At least, we call it Tony's. I think the official name is DaBernardo's, which is probably Tony's last name. Tony is a big, husky, friendly guy who looks like he would be a great defensive lineman, in the American-style of football. He speaks very good English, which is helpful for newcomers like us, and he has traveled to America and loves New York and New Jersey. New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia are very popular in this part of southern Italy. Jobs are scarce here, and some young people learn English in school, then travel to America and work in the Northeast at pizza shops and restaurants. In the U.S., they can earn much more than they would in Naples. Sometimes they return to Naples, able to speak good English, where they then find better jobs or take over the family business. Tony's father originally founded the restaurant, but then he passed away and now Tony runs the business, along with his mama who watches over everything from her perch near the cash register and phone stand.

Tony spoke to us in English the first night we came to the restaurant, and told us about his trips to America and how he enjoyed New York City. He told us stories about his newborn son and introduced us his mama, the grandmother or Nonna of the baby. Many of her recipes are used in the restaurant, so when our pasta dish was particularly good and we knew it was Nonna's recipe, we made sure to tell her it was delicious. On a return visit, we brought a small gift of some baby bibs with baseballs and footballs, and another small baby item. Nonna and Tony were both thrilled, and now we seem to be practically family members. Since then we are greeted with the more informal "Ciao" and Nonna always lets Tony know that we have arrived for dinner if he is in the kitchen. Tony introduced us to his wife and his baby when they visited the restaurant, and we were given a small gift in honor of the baby's christening service as a token of friendship.

Antonio is the single waiter who efficiently and patiently serves all the customers, no matter how busy the restaurant may be. We have not been formally introduced to the Pizza Man, but I love to sit near his wood-fired oven and watch him work. He is a master. For our first three or four visits we sat near the pizza oven, and watched him toss, stretch, and shape the dough, add the toppings and know exactly how long to cook each pie so that it came out with the perfect crispy bubbly thin crust. We finally said hello, asked him about his work, and offered him a glass of our wine as a small gesture of appreciation for the terrific pizzas he made us that night. He said thanks and that the wine was great, because water or beer would make him sweat too much. He told us that he makes about 100 pizzas a day. We calculated that if he is roughly 40 years old and has been making 100 pizzas a day for 20 years, he could have made about 650,000 pizzas by now. I need to learn more Italian so that I can ask him about his work and his pizza-making skills. He is very dedicated to his craft, and in my mind I have already thought about how much we will miss Tony's and his pizzas and this little corner of Italian life when we return to America, even though that may not happen for several years. Where will we go to find pizza and people this special in America?
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Comments

amym1228
amym1228 on

I can't wait to meet Tony!
Yum. My mouth is watering just reading this. This is a definite place we will have to come when we visit! I am already planning on being completely spoiled by wonderful food.

linhaytur
linhaytur on

Bella Napoli & Arce Felice!
WOW! How we loved our time in Italy, especially Napoli! Tony's & Mama's are FANTASTIC! I'm ready to travel back already! linhaytur

Blenda Simms on

Yes, I miss the pizza of Tony's too. We haven't found anything half as delicious anywhere in America. And you are right, the people there could not have been better to us strangers among them.

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