Crispy, chewy, ooey and gooey, pizza has the ability to warm the soul like nothing else. But with so many pizzerias in Auckland to choose from, the stakes for the slice has never been so high. What we’re looking for is a true taste of Naples—no dreaded pineapple in sight. A thin crust blistered to perfection in fierce heat, topped with ingredients that emphasises quality over quantity. So we’ve scooted around town (in our minds, on a Vespa) and picked out the best woodfired slices on offer—now that's amore.
If owner Luca Villari from Al Volo, had it his way, he would serve only the classics: the Margherita and a cheeseless marinara—which relies on just olive oil, garlic, oregano and salt. When a chef isn’t scared to hide behind ingredients you know it’s going to be good. Open since 2004, this little beauty at the top of Mt Eden Road has made a name for itself with its authentic wood-fired, Neapolitan pizza. The 400C Manuka-fired oven cooks up its pizza in 90 seconds, resulting in a blistered, thin and crispy base topped with quality ingredients.
The woodfired pizza at Archie’s in Newmarket is one of Auckland’s best-kept secrets. It’s always teeming with customers but the cozy atmosphere and warm welcome makes it all worth it. Sitting in the heart of the restaurant, the wood-fire oven is responsible for cooking some of the best flavour combinations in town. Try the alla capricciosa—a crispy, semi-charred base topped with a flavour bomb of salami, olives, capsicum, anchovies, tomato, mozzarella and oregano.
Dante's Pizzeria Napoletana
Ponsonby and Takapuna
If the awards that adorn the walls in Dante's don't give it away, the mouthwatering aroma that wafts over from perfect Neapolitan pizza bubbling away in the woodfired oven will. Dante’s arguably delivers Auckland’s best Neapolitan pizza, as certified by being New Zealand’s first pizzeria to receive the prestigious accolades of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana—and we won’t argue. The pizza base takes owner Kevin Morris four days to make, the tomatoes are hand-crushed and grown in a village near Naples, along with the flour and cheese all straight from Italy. Morris doesn't cut any corners and his passion for authenticity can be tasted in every heavenly bite. Order his favourite, the classic Margherita and enjoy the simple beauty of pizza made right—and don't you dare ask for meat lovers!
You can trust your pizza is in good hands when its been made by Pizza Chef Sergio Maglione —the mastermind behind the legendary Toto’s meter-long pizza. Farina serves up authentic Napoletana wood-fired pizza, whether you’re dining in or taking away while cheekily double-parked on Ponsonby Road. Try the Pugliese chili for strong, sharp tastes of chili, anchovies, olives and capers over the base of sweet tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella.
We’re about to let you in on a local secret. If you do happen to be on a little vacay from Auckland, cruising around the Coromandel, head to Luke’s Kitchen in Kuaotunu. This treasured hangout spot has the locals and in-the-know visitors queuing out of the door for their insanely good woodfired pizzas. Topped with locally sourced and grown ingredients they’re cooked in a traditional wood-fired oven, which sits in prime position in this laidback, beachy restaurant. Enjoy the holy combo of pizza, beer and sunshine while listening to live music acts and gazing out at the million-dollar beach view. This pizza is worth the trip to the Coromandel alone.
Bringing Naples to New Lynn with Settebello, owner, Francesco Acri is top of the class when it comes to pizza school—a class we’d happily sign up for. He represented New Zealand at the World Pizza Championship in Italy last year after winning the New Zealand Pizza Championship in 2015. His dough is a labour of love, proved for 20 hours then cooked in a Manuka-fired oven, making the base light and crisp with a sweet smoky flavour. While still remaining authentic, the toppings are on the generous side, which we like, a lot. The “early bird” $15 pizza-and-Peroni lunch deal is a pure gold.
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Image credit: Andrew Wilson at Dante's Pizzeria Napoletana