Innovative cooks have long exploited the powers of deep-fried dough (look no further than fried Coca-Cola batter and fried beer ravioli). But Neapolitan cooks are responsible for one of its finest forms: fried pizza. The traditional specialty can be served in one of two ways: the stuffed, calzone-like pizza fritta and the more pie-like pizza montanara.
The latter hails from the mountains around Naples (hence, “montanara”). To make the dish, chefs drop a disc of uncooked pizza dough in hot oil for about a minute, then top the puffy fried dough with marinara and cheese. To melt the cheese and char the crust, they bake it for another minute in an oven. Tasters say this gives the crust a crunchy, airy texture and a smoky, toasted flavor. It may not be as light as dough that’s avoided a bubbling oil pit entirely, but it’s not the battered slice you were imagining, either.
Need to Know
If you can't make it to Naples, several restaurants in New York City also serve pizza montanara.
Visit Naples with Atlas Obscura Trips
Culinary Naples: Producers, Purveyors, and Pizzaioli
From street food to lavish feasts, piping-hot coffee to smooth aperitivos, folk songs to opera, hilltop farms to urban wilds, immerse yourself in the greatest culinary and cultural experiences of Naples, meeting lively local Neapolitani for whom this is the only way to live.
Where to Try It
Pizzeria StaritaVia Materdei, 27/28, Naples , 80136, Italy
This family-owned restaurant has been frying up pies for decades. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to midnight.
This midtown establishment sells a variety of Neapolitan pies.