It’s hard to remember now, but it used to be a big deal when a Neapolitan pizzeria opened in Berlin. Puffy, blistered crusts? Rejoice! A big expensive 500-degree oven that fires up pies in 90 seconds flat? What a wonder! San Marzano tomatoes and DOP prosciutto? Molto frickin’ bene!
These days, exactly none of those things are special. In fact, they’re the bare minimum requirement for a new pizza joint. Which is great – if you live within the Ring, you’re never far from a proper margherita or marinara – but also overwhelming. Even since this June roundup, at least five restaurants have opened promising chewy dough and ingredients straight outta Napoli. Just how is one supposed to keep track?
Between September 9 – 15, at least, you can catch up with the help of True Italian Pizza Week. Started in 2017 by the extremely press-savvy team behind Berlino Magazine, it’s a city-wide (and, since last year, Germany-wide) promotion where over 30 pizza spots offer one of two special creations and an Aperol spritz – or a beer, or a soda – for €12. While not exactly an underground tip (corporate sponsors include everyone from Campari to SumUp to the tourism bureau of Naples itself), it remains a decent deal, and with three Italians doing the curating, a guaranteed good meal.
Here are three of this year’s promising newbies (and one old favourite in a new location).
When Bielefeld entrepreneur Jan Hunke wanted get into the Neapolitan pizza game, he went straight to the source. Vincenzo Capuano, a third-generation pizzaiolo with four restaurants in Italy, lent his name, recipes and personal flour stash to a pair of restaurants in Berlin and Hunke’s possibly-nonexistent hometown.
Watching the waitstaff cut up your pizza with Capuano’s signature golden scissors will be very unsettling if you’ve seen Jordan Peele’s Us, but the soft, cloudlike crust will put you squarely back in the comfort zone. Try the zingy special with ham, lemon zest and basil-mint pesto, and don’t miss the brioche with Duo gelato for dessert.
Weinbergsweg 24, Mitte, Mon-Thu 12-23, Fri-Sat 12-24, Sun 12-22:30, capvin.de
Who dares challenge the Rosenthaler Platz pizza primacy of La Pausa, king of the mediocre but irresistibly cheap slice? This party-happy newcomer, where certified master pizza instructor Gianluca Simonato puts his own spin on the Neapolitan classics (also available as Roman-style slices). Unorthodox topping combos include the Flora – a sphere of burrata resting atop a garden’s worth of salad – or, for Pizza Week, potato cream and Brandenburg wild boar sausage. Ask nicely and you’ll get yours in a cutesy heart shape.
Rosenthaler Str. 3, Mitte, Tue-Thu, Sun 16-23, Fri-Sat 16-24:30, Instagram
Vegans who refuse to choke down yet another marinara pie can indulge in the creations of Stefan Kugler, a German Neapolitan pizza obsessive who works out of the Prenzlauer Berg café Vamos Veganos five nights a week. A literal chemist, his science background shines through in his homemade animal-free toppings – the Pizza Week specials feature horseradish cream and carrot salmon or almond ricotta and seitan salami, atop puffy crusts that may or may not have activated charcoal in them.
Schönfließer Str. 16, Prenzlauer Berg, Wed-Sun 17-21, Instagram
The best pizza in the West has come to Kreuzberg! Alessandro Piras was only looking for a place to store the vegetables and deli items he’d been importing from his native Sardinia, but because the cellar in Moabit’s Arminiusmarkthalle came complete with a market stall, he began incorporating them into terrific, classical-style Neapolitan pies. Made with a secret flour mixture and intensely fruity tomatoes, they’re newly available at the Wolt-run pop-up Parker Bowles & Friends just off Moritzplatz – stop by (or order delivery) while you can.
Prinzenstraße 85d, Kreuzberg, daily 12-24, mangiare-berlin-berlin.de