Andrea de Michele with a Pizza al portafoglio, as reproduced in Big Mamma

Mamma Knows Best: How to eat pizza like a Neapolitan

Eaten in the street folded into four and wrapped in paper, it’s known as pizza al portafoglio, ‘walletstyle’ pizza

Like all good mothers, Big Mamma is pretty hands on. The Italian restaurant group founded by two Italian-food-loving Frenchmen has managed to conjure up the warmth and generosity of a traditional trattoria in a wide variety of European locations, partly because it insists on employing young, talented and enthusiastic Italian chefs.

It’s their skilled, nimble hands that make Big Mamma’s delicious food and drinks. Yet the brigade at Big Mamma’s restaurants aren’t only adept when it comes to food preparation; they also know a thing or two about how to put it away.

Take this short guide to eating pizza, also reproduced in our new book, Big Mamma Cucina Popolare, courtesy of the Italian chef and pizzaiolo, Andrea de Michele, who works in one of Big Mamma’s Parisian restaurants.

“Naples is a mecca for Italian street food, and pizza is the jewel in the crown. And not just any pizza, the pizza Napoletana. It was originally eaten in the street folded into four and wrapped in a piece of paper. It’s known as pizza al portafoglio, ‘walletstyle’ pizza.

“It’s appropriately named, as it can be eaten on the go or seated on a bench in the sun. It’s mainly topped with pecorino romano and basil. Pizza al portafoglio is timeless and is still served this way in the streets of Naples. If you want to eat pizza like a true Neapolitan, you have to start by finding ‘vera pizza’ – a pizza whose crust is thin in the middle and with extra-thick lip around the edge, topped with fresh ingredients and cooked in a woodfired oven.


Big Mamma Cucina Popolare
Big Mamma Cucina Popolare

“For those lucky enough to find it, fold it in half twice, arm yourself with napkins and avoid people’s stares as you bite into it. Half of it will end up on the ground and you’ll have it all over your hands and mouth, but that’s what’s so good about it. Andrea, pizzaiolo at La Felicità, says to find the best, go to Pizzeria Port’alba, which has been around for 120 years. People of Naples, you can be proud.”

For more culinary advice from Mamma, order a copy of Big Mamma Cucina Popolare here; and for more on where to eat pizza, get Where to Eat Pizza.