Pizzerias Finally Allowed to Reopen in Naples After First-Ever Citywide Shutdown
In mid-March, Italian authorities imposed the tightest of lockdowns in the city of Naples, and required all restaurants to turn out their lights, lock their doors, and stop selling any food, even via takeout or delivery. That meant all restaurants were closed, even the hundreds of pizzerias that are scattered throughout Italy's unofficial pizza capital.
These coronavirus-related closures might've been the first time ever that the city's celebrated pizzaiolos have had to stop making their signature pies, and the first time that fresh pizzas weren't available anywhere. "It has never happened since it saw the light of day, that in Naples, pizza couldn't be found," journalist Luciano Pignataro told Al Jazeera. "Not in the Neapolitan Revolution of 1799, the fall of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, the two World Wars, during the cholera period, nor the Camorra war."
But on Monday night, Neapolitan pizzerias were finally allowed to reopen, although they're required to adhere to a number of restrictions and limitations, including no in-person orders or pickup—it's phone-in and delivery only—and they have to close every night by 10 p.m. But the fires have been re-lit in the wood-burning ovens, and just-baked pizzas are back on the menu.
“Surely this is a little restart for the entrepreneurs, important for us and for our region, our city and our nation,” pizzeria owner Giovanni Pezzuto told the Associated Press. “This is a symbol of hope for the little firm that slowly can restart.” The AP reports that Vincenzo De Luco, the governor of the Campania region, has also allowed bars, restaurants, and even ice cream parlors, to start making home deliveries too.
Whether it's because they're surrounded by so many pizzerias or despite it, the average Neapolitan still eats at least one pizza a week. (Just one?!) During the region's strict lockdown, pizzaiolos started getting creative on social media, sharing video tutorials for at-home pizza-making, and swapping pizza-related recipes. And yes, all of these DIY pizza crusts probably contributed to the region's own yeast and flour shortages. "People are now sharing videos on how to make sourdough, to substitute regular yeast," Claudia Giardiello, a north-of-Naples local told DW. "I think we are eating double the amount of pizza than before."
Errico Porzio, a pizzaiolo and restaurateur, told the outlet that he believes that pizzerias might have to change their "entire business model" in the weeks and months ahead. He's probably right: restaurants will undoubtedly have to handle an increased number of delivery or takeout orders and, when they're allowed to reopen for in-person dining, they might have to reconfigure their seating areas or start taking reservations to ensure that there's adequate space between customers.
But Porzio also thinks that Neapolitans will pick up right where they left off, and will continue to proudly frequent the pizzerias that the city is known for. "With the little means they have at home, people have proved their love for pizza," he said. "This makes us pizzaiolos proud and we know that when all of this is over, pizza will be loved even more than it already is."
Buon appetito, Napoli! Mangiamo!