Saturday, September 02, 2023
Italy's Caserta has the best pizza with flash freezing cooking technique and a castle with 1200 rooms, a 123-hectare royal park and an English garden that rivals Versailles,
In 2022, the palace welcomed 770,000 visitors, which might not sound like a lot until you realise that 10 to 15 million people visit Versailles every year.
A travel writer from Rome was interested in seeing this unnoticed palace. She believed they could experience both pizza and palace when her husband asked her to try to get a reservation at Caserta's Pizzeria I Masanielli di Francesco Martucci, which was named the greatest pizza restaurant in the world by Top 50 Pizza in 2022.
"I booked our table two months in advance and planned our trip around the reservation. We would visit the palace, eat award-winning pizza for dinner, and spend the night in a cute little bed-and-breakfast", she said.
Since it takes a few hours to drive from Rome to Caserta, the couple departed in the morning and arrived by midday. They decided against a sit-down lunch and instead just grabbed sandwiches at the cafe within the Reggia before their visit so as not to destroy their appetite before evening.
"It wasn't difficult to understand why the palace is compared to Versailles while walking around the royal rooms. More than 130 feet in length, the throne room features elaborate, golden mouldings. The throne's frame is composed of carved and gilded wood, and its fabric is light blue velvet", she said.
They were taken away by the flavours and textures of the pizza at I Masanielli that evening after a trip around the mediaeval section of the city located high above the palace. Francesco Martucci is renowned for creating exquisite pizza using haute cuisine methods like flash freezing, sous vide cooking, dehydration, and fermenting. He's not the only notable pizzaiolo in the region, either.
Pizza may have originated in Napoli, but Caserta's pizzaiolio appears to have mastered it. The moment they returned to Rome the following day, she made reservations for a table at Pepe in Grani, whose proprietor Franco Pepe helped establish I Masanielli as a fine-dining pizza and who was featured on the Netflix series "Chef's Table: Pizza".
"I have now eaten at both pizzerias and have gone back to visit the Reggia di Caserta twice since that first trip. So, I can attest that, for travellers who want to get off the beaten path in Italy, a detour to Caserta is worth the detour. Just be sure to plan ahead — those pizzerias book up a month or two in advance", she added.