Ok, everyone knows pizza comes from Italy, but is it really worth travelling all the way to Italy for?!
Having spent much time over the last few years in Italy I can tell you it most certainly is. There are now hundreds of pizzerias across the UK and the rest of the world, having lived in London for the past few years I have seen a huge variety. From cheap roadside takeaways (with students queuing outside in the wee hours of the morning) to the next cool place to be seen, so many hip new restaurants now have wood fired ovens.
I have to admit I have become a bit of a pizza snob, after my first few proper Italian pizzas I refused to eat pizza whenever I was in the UK. Nothing compares to that fresh homemade crisp pizza with fresh mozzarella and Italian tomatoes. Now however I have been slightly swayed by the discovery of ‘almost Italian’ pizzas at a couple of places I have found in London, Pizza East is one of my favourites with their unique toppings (very unitalian!) such as veal meatballs with procuitto, cream and sage.
Another recent discovery was Princi in Soho. Before the pizzas even arrived I knew they would be authentic as the five tables surrounding us were all speaking Italian, a great sign! I later found out that to no surprise, baker Rocco Princi began these stylish eateries in Milan.
I’m not claiming to have travelled Italy to find the best pizza, but I have travelled Lake Como in search of the thinest crispiest base, and I found it. On the western shore of the lake, just beyond the large town Menaggio where the lake widens out, in the little village of Aquaseria is THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD! Ok well definitely the best pizza on the lake. The pizzeria is called Creme Caramel and is run by a Swiss lady called Karen. Its a bit of a drive for us from Argegno up the lake, but its hardly a great distance when you consider I would travel from England for one of their pizzas!
Italians treat pizza as seriously as the English treat a Sunday roast, and it is their equivalent, every sunday pizzerias are full of big Italian families, everyone from the nonas to the bambinos! The classics found on every menu obviously are Margherita (named after the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, whom the first pizza with cheese was named after…it represents the colours of the Italian flag with tomatoes, cheese and basil). Then theres the calzone (folded over pizza), pizza quatro staggione (four seasons), pizza with anchovies, olives, salami…the list goes on. However varieties such as ham and pineapple are laughed at by Italians, as is the addition of chips to the pizza ordered by my brother, Finn, pictured below. My favourite however is a toss up between tuna and red onion (pictured) and the Creme Caramel Norvegese, chunks of smoked salmon with rocket!
The answer is simple, the base is so thin and crispy it cracks in your mouth. There is the perfect ratio of tomato to cheese. The dough is so light you don’t feel stuffed and bloated. You can see the chefs preparing it in the corner of the little cosy restaurant. And you have the best view right onto the lake, what more could you want?!
Why not try having pizzas at your wedding for a truly Italian feel, include them as part of your canapés, or as a midnight snack when your dancing feet are tired! Or you could make a main focus of it and do a pre-wedding get together the night before and dine on this completely traditional dish.
All photos except the first are taken at Creme Caramel Restaurant, Via Molino Nuovo 7 – 0344 50932