No matter where you are in the world, people always have their local landmarks. It could be the supermarket, a convenience store, or, as was my case growing up, the local pizza joint.
While it lacked the best food in town and the decor was somewhat cheesy, everyone would wind up there at some point, because it was easy and enjoyable.
I did not expect to find a place with such ambiance in Nanjing, yet Napoli Pizza defied these expectations. The interior of the restaurant certainly has all the familiarity of a Western pizza parlor, with its vague Italian-American feel. And while the food offerings vary in complexity, it is quite easy to get a classic pizza and (European) beer combo. This familiarity only stops at the counter, where the menu reads mostly in Chinese, with only the titles of each pizza in English. Ultimately, this hiccup matters little, as the titles state exactly what toppings are utilized. Additionally, several staff members speak English and will helpfully accept custom orders. On this note, Napoli is quite accommodating in general and offers a plethora of vegetarian options.
It is surprising Napoli finds success with atmosphere despite being Chinese owned and operated. Perhaps even more surprising is that Napoli finds success with its pizza. While several menu choices are slightly unorthodox, many of the pizzas offered are accurate, and delicious, recreations of the Western originals. The use of a wood fire oven further solidifies their credentials. It is clear Napoli has learned from Chinese pizza parlors past and improved upon their pizza-making failures.
Were I not in China, I would say there is not much special about a place like Napoli; it would simply be a decent and cheap pizza parlor. However, the fact that such places are rare in Nanjing, combined with the fact that Napoli’s atmosphere feels so “normal”, make this eatery a surprisingly enjoyable experience.
Napoli is located at 100-1 Shanghai Lu 上海路100-1号. Tel. 025-85985980.