There is scene in the film Eat, Pray, Love when Julia Roberts’ character Elizabeth makes a pilgrimage to Naples to indulge in the staple of Neapolitan cuisine: pizza. Sitting at a communal table with a whole pizza to herself, she takes a bite and then breaks out into a wide grin.
“I’m in love. I’m having a relationship with my pizza,” she says, wiping her cheesy hands and tomato stained face with a napkin. Although her friend Sofi feels guilty about indulging in the thin crust, tomato pie, Elizabeth convinces her that worrying about muffin tops should be the last thing on their minds. Then, after finishing both of their pizzas, Elizabeth proceeds to order another round— with double the mozzarella.
Unfortunately for me I never had the chance to “have a relationship with my pizza” in Naples. Although I did eat my fair share of pies while in Italy, I never made the trip to the capital of Campania to sample the city’s most iconic food. As a city known for its trash and a penchant for crime, Naples was not recommended for the Villa students, particularly for females, thus I never made it down South.
Despite never journeying to Naples, I felt like I finally made it there during a recent trip to the D.C. restaurant Two Amys. On one of the hottest days of the summer, a friend and I made the short trip to the Glover Park neighborhood to see if it was possible to have an affair with one’s food.
Two Amys prides itself on the use of the finest and most authentic Italian ingredients for all of its menu items. Since Neapolitan pizza received Denomination of Controlled (Denominazione di Orgine Controllata) status more than thirteen years ago, an authentic Neapolitan pie must be prepared using specific methods and ingredients.
San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala from the water buffalo, both stables of the Campania region, are two of the most important ingredients for any pizza di Napoli. Few ingredients are in the dough: flour with a high protein content, yeast, water and salt. After forming the dough into a thin disk and topping with minimal ingredients, the pizza cooks between 60-90 seconds in a wood-burning oven heated to 485 degrees Celsius, or 905 degrees Fahrenheit. A perfect pie will be crisp and tender with a slight char from the oven’s high heat.
On the night that my friend and I arrived at Two Amys, patrons crowded the restaurant to capacity, surprising considering it was 7:30 on a Thursday night. Despite the high temperatures and humidity, we passed on the inside noise and thirty minute wait by agreeing to sit outdoors. So long as we had bottomless water glasses, we were apt to sweat for our meal.
As I walked through the restaurant to the back patio, I caught a glimpse of a pizza coming hot out of the oven. If you eat with your eyes first, then I was already full. Upon seeing the mozzarella-topped disc I knew immediately what I would order. Two Amys offers an assortment of pizzas, from the classic Marinara and Margherita to the more creative like the Etna with eggplant, capers and Grana Padano and the Abruzzese, garlic, Pecorino and polpettine, or little meatballs.
I kept it simple and ordered the Margherita, while my dining companion went with the Santa Brigida of cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and arugula. Though we each had a whole pizza to ourselves, we could not help but order the Supplì a Telefono to begin. My interest in the supplì had less to do with hunger and more to do with curiosity. Could they compare to Flavia’s? I was eager to find out.
When they arrived, I admit feeling disappointed. Based on presentation alone, their round shape resembled arancini more than the oblong croquettes I ate with my host mom. Two Amys’ rice balls were also meat-free, differing from the traditional supplì recipe made with ragù. Notably, supplì are not even Neapolitan, but rather Roman; in Naples, rice balls are called palline di riso.
Despite my critiques, the crunchy fritters were quite tasty. The cheese stuffed inside was plentiful and stretched out just like a cord a telefono. Still, when my pizza arrived it was as if my stomach had not seen food in days. Like the scene in Eat, Pray, Love my first bite made me feel as if I had fallen in love. The crust was perfectly chewy; the cheese melted in small pools; tomatoes with a slight sweetness; the smell of basil permeated the entire pie.
I feel no shame in admitting that I devoured the entire thing. As Julia Roberts says in the film, “I am so tired of saying no, and waking up in the morning and recalling every single thing I ate the day before; counting every calorie I consumed so I know how much self-loathing to take into the shower…I’m just through with the guilt.” With each bite of pizza, I felt myself grinning more and more. Yes there was cheese and oil and carbohydrates, but it was one of the most incredible things I have ever eaten.