The ultimate Neapolitan pizza

The original pizza is having a renaissance, trumping American pies

When I first arrived in Dublin, I was ignorant of the city’s booming Neapolitan pizza scene. It still seems quite random that this is the case. But Dublin’s selection of Neapolitan pizza has surprised and delighted me. My dad is from Naples and, as an Italian, I have discovered that I don’t just enjoy pizza, I need it for survival. And Italians will tell you that Neapolitan pizza is superior to any other: it focuses on the freshness of the ingredients, and stresses the importance of the dough rather than the toppings. The wood-fired brick ovens get fiercely hot, cooking the pizzas in under a minute. This leads to a different experience: a chewy pillowy crust and floppy middle, rather than your thin and crispy New York slice. All these pizzerias are worth going to, but they excel in different ways, so pick one based on the occasion. My method thus far to get the most out of this experience has been to split a margherita and marinara (just the base and tomato sauce, perfumed with garlic, oregano, and oil) with my pizza-partner, as the simplicity allows for better comparison between restaurants. I also find that this is the perfect balance – a whole margherita can be too heavy, and sometimes a marinara leaves me wanting more.

Forno 500: 8.5/10

Dame Street, Dublin 2

I am giving this pizzeria the highest rating because the pizza is not too expensive (a margherita is €10.50) and the atmosphere is relaxed and not too formal. The pizzas themselves are perfect – exceeding all expectations of what bread, cheese, and tomato can do together. My advice here would be not to go at the most popular times. I once had to wait for half an hour because some drunk people refused to pay their bill. This was stressful as the narrow room was packed with people and waiters were rushing around frantically. But another time I walked in and was seated immediately, so it really depends. All of the waiters are Italian and the restaurant resembles its origin: loud and lively. It is suitable for both a special occasion or something more casual.

Little Pyg: 7.5/10

William Street South, Dublin 2

The only thing that brings down the rating of this restaurant is the weird atmosphere. This pizzeria is located in the Powerscourt Centre, and this potentially spoils the ambience as it doesn’t feel like you’re stepping into a restaurant, but rather a shopping centre. I would advise eating here at lunch, when it’s light and airy, rather than at dinner, where the acoustics and loud bass music, accompanied by strange pink lighting, makes for a less intimate environment. However, this could be teething problems for the newly-opened restaurant, and they haven’t figured out what mood they’re going for yet. Atmosphere aside, the pizza is the most delicious of the four, and having the pizzaioli working right next to us enhanced the experience; it was entrancing and gave me an increased appreciation for the food I was eating. These pizza chefs work at an amazingly high standard set by Michelin-rated pizza maestro Enzo Coccia, one of Napoli’s best pizzaioli, who is a large part of the branding of this restaurant. A waiter told me that the owners paid a “fortune” to stamp his name on the menu. Ultimately this does mean that eating here is more expensive (a margherita is €13) but the quality really does live up to the price. My sister commented on the pizza being a bit ‘raw’, but I would have to disagree, as this makes it taste light and fresh. It should also be mentioned that there is a 2 for 1 cocktail deal (cutely named “pygtails”), for the price of €15.90. This seems to be worth it as they have an ample selection and are all presented beautifully.

Sano: 8/10

Exchange Street Upper, Temple Bar, Dublin 8

The atmosphere here is the most relaxed out of the restaurants reviewed, and is the perfect place to have a good Neapolitan pizza for not very much at all: the margherita here is €7.90, and the marinara is €6, with the quality being similar to that of Forno 500. It is much more informal here and service is fast – this will definitely be a recurring meal for me in the future. Its location on Dame Street makes it the ideal spot for lunch in between lectures (another location is opening soon on D’Olier street), and the prices are competitive with other lunch spots.

Manifesto: 8/10

Rathmines Road Lower, Rathmines, Dublin 6

Here the atmosphere is more refined – they are only open for dinner and you will likely need a reservation. A margherita is €13, which is on the expensive side but this place seems to be going for more of a restaurant feel, rather than a traditional pizzeria – the price also accounts for the fact that the pizzas are bigger. They serve homemade pasta and desserts, and the floor upstairs is solely used as a wine cellar, giving them an intimidatingly long wine menu. The pizzas here are incredible and this makes sense: the restaurant boasts a plethora of awards, including gold medals at the Pizza World Championships. This is an ideal place for a fancier occasion – a date, perhaps.