Saturday in the city. This time of year, Naples is nearly deserted. But being Saturday I had that desire for pizza. This week’s choice was Antica Pizzeria Donna Regina. Ernesto Fico’s Donna Regina. Pizza by Fico as his t-shirt proudly announced. Fico, son of a pizza maker, opened up his first pizzeria in San Giorgio A Cremano back in 1988. Via S.S: Apostoli, #4, in Naples,however, is where he has called home for the last 7 years.
The menu…Ordering a pizza is not as easy as one might think. We wanted something different …a pizza (or two) that would show us a little bit Donna Regina. One that would show us the best of a pizza by Fico…
While deciding, I overheard Ernesto say prepariamo o ‘cuptiel…yes! Classic in Naples. Brown paper cone…stuffed with all kinds of fried specialties. Oggi? Today? Fried pasta, zucchini, arancini, and crocchè. Something to tie you over while you try to contemplate…try to concentrate.
No…still undecided. A plate arrives. Straccetti del cardinale...a simple, but tasty appetizer he makes especially for Cardinal Sepe of Naples (whose offices are just down the street)...Lightly fried strips of pizza dough topped with fresh tomatoes and basil…
Allora? Ok? Have you decided?...Yes! A Checcholina. A pizza made with melanzane ai funghetti,eggplant with tomatoes, prosciutto, fior di latte, and basil. We wanted to keep it light, being summer and all. And it was. Light and tasty.
And a Donna Albina. A pizza with provola cheese (my it cheese of the moment), fresh tomatoes, rucola¸extra virgin olive oil. We wanted to keep it light, being summer and all. And it was. Light and tasty.
Afterwards, over a caffè with Ernesto, I thought back to when we first met. At the judges table. World Pizzaioli Championship. It was Ernesto who I observed as he analyzed each pizza. Raising his slice wth his fork to look underneath. Why? La cottura…to see if it was cooked correctly, he answered. It was Ernesto who I observed as he tore off a piece of crust, opened it up, smelled it, paused, and then took a bite. Why? Tempo di lievitazione…checking to see if the dough had risen properly before being cooked.
I thought back to what I had tried at lunch. How a lunch had casually turned into little lessons. Lessons on quality. Lessons on fresh products. Lessons on simplicity. A lesson by Fico. A pizza by Fico. A Saturday in pizzeria…
Via S.S: Apostoli n° 4