Psst, I don’t know if you knew this about me, but I’m sure you can keep a secret… I like pizza. Like, really, really like pizza. I know, I’ve hardly ever mentioned it before, and I most certainly didn’t have my first ever holiday abroad in Napoli so I could visit legendary pizzeria, Da Michele. I mean, that would be the sort of thing you’d expect of somebody with a real unhealthy obsession with pizza…
So when in Manchester on Sunday to do a spot of shopping I suggested to Sara that I’d buy us lunch, on the proviso that it was pizza. Not just any pizza, I wanted proper Neapolitan style pizza that would take us back to our time in Italy and the amazing pizza at Da Michele.
After AppleMaps sent us in circles, as it is often prone to do so, I popped into the excellent, independently run Ancoats General Store who helpfully sent us in the right direction, a 1 minute walk around the corner and we arrived at our destination in the heart of Ancoats, an area formerly known as “Little Italy”, what could be more fitting for a Neapolitan pizzeria?
Offered a choice between a sharing table in the window or up at the bar, I choose the bar style seating so I can see the action, watching the dough being expertly hand stretched, hoping to learn from the experts but ultimately giving up on the idea as they do this with far too much efficiency for me to learn anything from them.
This ideal location allows me to be able to tell when our order is being made and about to go into the wood fired oven they use for all their pizzas. Just like in Napoli, we ordered both types of pizza, (which always makes me think of that scene in The Blues Brothers, when asking the proprietor of the music venue what music they put on there “oh we got both kinds, country and western”) a margherita and a marinara. As they go into the pizza oven I start the stopwatch on my phone, I stop it as they are removed… 55 seconds later, two excellent looking Neapolitan style pizzas are on plates and ready to be delivered to our table.
My margherita immediately invoked memories of that meal in Napoli, the leoparding on the the cornicione, the soft thin base, the scattering of mozzarella and a soupy centre. I am entirely convinced it came on the exact same plates as used at Da Michele!
Sara’s marinara, a pizza which is traditionally only tomato sauce, sliced garlic, oregano and olive oil, also had the welcome addition of basil just deviating slightly from tradition. We swapped a slice each of our pizzas and this was still just as impressive as I found it in Napoli. Everybody I tell about pizza marinara struggles to see the appeal of a pizza without cheese, but I say to them, just go try one and your opinion will change. The moment you bite into it, and get that slight heat from the warm but practically raw garlic against the sweetness of the tomato and the metallic aniseed flavours from the basil and oregano. Heaven.
All of this washed down with one of the beers that alongside Peroni was ubiquitous in Napoli, Birra Moretti. Refreshing, cold and malty, a good lager to pair with pizza. I’m sorry that I kept references to Da Michele constantly throughout the post, but to me it just seems like a testiment to how authentic the pizza is here at Rudy’s… and it’s cheap too! £4.80 for a marinara, £5.80 for a margherita! You can’t complain at quality this good at prices that low! Oh, if you want to have toppings, they have them as well but simplicity is often perfection, and I’ll always go for either of the Neapolitan classics.