Our pizza pilgrimage to Naples wasn’t going to be complete until we squeezed in one last lunch at Starita a Materdei before we made our way back to Rome and our onward journey to Nice.
As with all of the pizzerias we had visited on this trip Starita has a rich history, opening all the way back in 1901 as a wine cellar before its gradual conversion into trattoria & friggatoria before eventually settling on its current incarnation as a pizzeria.
It was here that Sophia Loren starred as a (naturally) beautiful, adulterous pizzaiola in 1954’s “L’oro di Napoli” (1954), posters from which still adorn the walls, and they even received an award from the Pope in 2000!
Having walked across town, suitcase in hand, I was more than happy to settle into a window table and relax with a cool beer whilst we looked at the menu, although I had already decided what I was going to order prior to arriving in the restaurant thanks to Marina O’Loughlin (one of the UK’s top food critics) who had offered advice via twitter the day before.
The menu at Starita is completely, but COMPLETELY different to anything else we had seen so far, with pizzas including “Porchetta Arricia” (7 Eu) topped with slices of roast pork, provola and basil, “Carciofa” (5.50 Eu) with creamed artichokes, artichokes, provola and basil and “Pistacchio e Mortadella” (9.50 Eu) with creamed pistachios, basil and mortadella.
They are especially famous for their fried pizzas, which was what I had been recommended to try, something I have to admit to being a little dubious about! The idea of a fried pizza didn’t actually sound all that appealing, but you don’t ask advice from a top food critic and then ignore it (well I certainly don’t) and the rest of the menu was totally overwhelming and to be honest I was quite relieved not to have to make too many decisions!
I started with a “Fiori di Zucca Imbotitti” (1.50 Eu) which was a lighter than light courgette flower stuffed with ricotta and their skill with frying became quite clear – maybe this fried pizza wasn’t going to be so bad after all!
My “Montanara Starita” (6.50 Eu) was classically topped with tomatoes, provola and basil with the addition of a little pecorino and olive oil (essential in a good pizza from what i observed on this trip) and as you can see from the photos was about as far removed from some heavy, stodgy fried pizza as possible!
I learnt that they make the dough then deep fry it very briefly before the toppings go on and it is placed into a wood fired oven to be finished off. I really can’t explain how wonderful and light and airy it was, I think the photo of the dough helps to give some idea but it really is something very unique and unlike anything I have tried before. This is why it pays to listen to a pro!
D&G had taken a more creative approach to the menu with D choosing the “Pizza Del Papa” (9Eu) topped with creamed pumpkin, provola, peppers, courgette, courgette flowers and basil whist G went for the “Noci e Fiorilli” (8.50 Eu) topped with creamed hazelnuts, provola, courgette and pumpkin flowers and basil.
Luckily they were both nice enough to offer me a slice (we swapped!) so I could see how the use of different sauces on the pizza impacts the flavour. Whilst I have had pizza with pumpkin before, it was sliced pumpkin as opposed to the creamed version used here, and I have certainly never had a pizza topped with nuts! It struck me that they were both a little sweeter than a classic tomato base, but the vegetables used added a more savoury hit and I was really torn as to which was my favourite over all.
Lunch at Starita was a great place to end our pizza trip, we ate everything from the classic to the creative, and everything (and anything) in between. Pizza will certainly never be quite the same again, Naples I will most definitely be back
Address: Via Materdei, 27/28, 80136 Napoli, Italy
Phone: +39 081 557 3682