27 January 2008

la migliore di milano : pizza

Ten years ago I was told not to bother with Milan. People said it was grey and ugly and a useless stop for a backpacker. So I skipped Milan and went on my merry way.

Who knew I would be lucky enough to make up for my mistake?

Milan is a wonderful place but it's true that you wouldn't know it from the surface. The word "grey" will be included in most any description of the city and urban beauty awards aren't exactly filling Milan's résumé. But - and here's where it gets interesting - that very same lack of surface appeal is what keeps Milan real.

Italians work here and Italians eat here. Italians walk their dogs and shop here. Milan is not filled with tourists and that, my dear friends, is what makes Milan the perfect place for you to shop, eat and walk your dogs.

The pizza in Milan is made for Italians. The same goes for the gelato. In Milan you eat as Italians eat and thankfully, there's really no other choice. And so begins my sporadic listing of what we've found to be the best of this delightfully grey city.

There is no exaggeration in saying that pizza in Italy is an art. The dough can be chewy-soft-light-airy and cradles tomato and all other manner of coverings. It comes out of a wood oven and has burnt spots and bubbles, and there is zero relation between this and the pizza that is delivered to your doorstep in an insulated red bag back in the States.

Pizza here comes out of a giant stove where a man who's been swirling and twirling dough for years has used a long paddle to shove it deep into the oven closer to the wood fire. If you sit near the oven you will be warmer than if you sit someplace else. And the size of the pizza is perfect for one, it always is.

If you eat one pizza in Milan it should be the marinara pizza from Pizzeria Sibilla. Tomato sauce, garlic slivers, olive oil, basil and a couple of flecks of spices. That's it. And that's all you need.

You don't need cheese. You don't need vegetables. Of course you could have them and be quite happy, but first try the marinara. After loving the puddles of olive oil nestled in with tomato and little pieces of garlic you won't go back. And you shouldn't.

Once, I made the mistake of ordering a regular margherita pizza (with cheese) while Stefano had a marinara. It was a mistake I never made again.

This pizza is why you eat in Italy.

Pizzeria Sibilla, Via Mercato 14, 02.864.64.567
Closed Sunday at lunch and all day Monday

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