This isn't it. But the reader's tip led me to find this place. Let me explain.
I've been to, and reported on, Luigi's, which is a basic, small-town pizzeria and sub shop in Naples. When a reader tipped me off about another place in Naples offering pizza, Roots Cafe, I started doing some online research. In the course of that, I discovered four establishments in Naples that do pizza: Luigi's, Roots Cafe, Middletown Tavern, and Neapolitan Pizzeria.
Eventually, I hope to report on them all. But following a recent Saturday morning hike at Conklin Gully, a/k/a Parish Glen, I had to pick one, and I stopped at Neapolitan Pizzeria. I was sweaty, dirty, and tired, and I wanted to get home and shower, so I wanted a pizza to go. And of the three places I hadn't been to, it seemed like the best for a takeout order, as well as the most pizza-oriented.
There was one person working behind the counter, who turned out to be the owner. Chef Derek opened the place in 2014. After years of experience in the restaurant business, including a long stint as head chef at a local golf club, Derek decided that Naples was ripe for a top-notch pizzeria, and that he wanted to be the man to do it.
Following some extensive tours of pizzerias elsewhere, New York City in particular, Derek found a suitable place on Main Street in Naples. A new wood-fired oven was installed by Empire Masonry, whose efficient dome design ensures a long, hot fire without the need for a lot of tinkering.
Derek keeps the oven temp at around 650. That's 100 degrees hotter than the max on a typical home oven, but well below the temperatures maintained at some wood-fired pizzerias.
Derek acknowledged that he could get his oven hotter, but he's straddling a line between customers who just want "regular" pizza and those looking for what they perceive as more "artisanal." But I think he's walking that tightrope very well.
I wanted to try the Margherita, but I knew my daughter's preference for "meat lovers" pies. Chef Derek was able to do both on one pie. I was afraid that splitting a pie into two such different styles might compromise one side or the other, but the results were quite good.
My pie was on the thin side of medium, with an underside that was lightly blackened and dry to the touch. The slices were firm underneath, but pliable; not crackly crisp, but not floppy either. The dough had a bready flavor, and the well-formed cornicione was well worth eating in its own right; there were no "pizza bones" left behind from this pie.
On top, the meat side was well-laden with mozzarella, pepperoni, ham, sausage, and bacon, atop a layer of mildly seasoned tomato sauce. The Margherita side was likewise generously topped with slices of fresh tomato, nicely melted fresh mozzarella, and shredded fresh basil.
Neapolitan offers pizza in 9, 12, 14 and 18 inch sizes, with 29 available toppings and four sauces. I will, at some point, try the Peruvian Pepper (H-Bomb) sauce. Specialty pizzas, which cost a little less than a la carte, include the "Buttery Pig," topped with fresh mozzarella, caramelized onion, and pancetta.
Derek frankly admitted that he was a little nervous when opening Neapolitan Pizzeria. Who wouldn't be, opening a new place? But business so far has been good. They get some wintertime traffic from skiers in Bristol, up the road, but the core business will continue to be local. And the local response has been positive. I'm not surprised. This is good pizza.
Neapolitan Brick Oven Pizzeria
120 North Main St., Naples, NY
Tue. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sun. noon - 8 p.m.