Tales from Ponza – Part 2
While in Ponza, I was impressed of the quality of this island’s street food. Due to its proximity to Naples, Ponza is well known for its scrumptious pizza, the most ubiquitous staple of the Italian gastronomic culture. Yet pizza doesn’t taste the same throughout Italy, and the best locations for eating pizza are Rome and Naples, where locals brag rights to the best pizza in the country. Indeed, in Italy there are two different kinds of pizzas: the Roman and the Neapolitan, and you can read the differences of both pizzas in my post Pizza in Rome.
In Ponza you will notice a relevant number of “Forni” or Bakery shops, specializing in “pizza al taglio” (take-away pizza). Pizza al taglio – meaning pizza by the slice – differs from round pizza sold in classic pizzerias simply because it is usually made on huge, rectangular trays and cut into squares or rectangular portions.
From the top left picture and clockwise: 1. All kinds of fried finger food – mozzarella, chicken, shrimp, olives (olive ascolane), potato croquettes, rice and tomato croquettes (supplì); 2. zucchini pizza; 3. pizza bianca (or white pizza which is just plain pizza dough); and 4. pizza Margherita (pizza with tomatoes and mozzarella).
My husband without hesitation took me to “Pizzeria da Nino” where you buy take-out pizza and fried finger food. The place was packed so we had to wait in line before getting to the counter and order our pizza. When looking for a good pizzeria in Italy, a good rule of thumb – in my opinion – is to observe if a spot has a stripped down look, crowded, and frequented by locals. Before going out on their boats, people in Ponza stop by Pizzeria da Nino for buying pizza to take it for lunch. They also buy fresh fruit and drinks (mostly white wine and water). As we finally arrived to the counter and were about to place our order, the pizzaiuolo was just taking some calzoni out of the oven!! These beautiful calzoni (top – right), which were made of eggplants, fresh mozzarella, and tomato, had a unique fragrant, soft dough. We were very lucky to get these freshly baked calzoni!!
As you walk down the main street of Ponza, you notice a series of vendors with colourful fruit and vegetables stands along the sidewalks. What really struck me was not only the beauty of the fruit but the taste of it! In fact, Ponza’s fruit parlours are famous for the quality of their fruit, mostly coming from the Campania region countryside.
Italy is worldwide known for the vast variety – and delicious, sweet taste – of its tomatoes. In the picture below, from the top line – left to right: piccadilly tomatoes, pomodori pachino (cherry tomatoes); second line – left to right: pomodori cuore di bue (ox heart tomatoes), pomodori da insalata (salad tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes); third line – left to right: plum tomatoes.
More tomatoes: top line from left to right: cherry tomatoes; san marzano tomatoes, pear tomatoes. Second line from left to right: plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, pomodori a grappolo (cluster tomatoes).
Like most Mediterranean islands, there are plenty of fish shops in Ponza. “Iscaiuolo” means a person from Ischia, an island within the Province of Naples.
In the picture below, barley salad with vegetables, a widely prepared summer dish in Italy eaten at room temperature.
Another popular salad is “insalata di tonno” (tuna salad). This one has fresh buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and black olives.
Honestly speaking, what’s better on a hot summer day than gelato? Top left picture – from the top left and clockwise: lemon gelato, pistacchio gelato, cherry gelato, and strawberry gelato.
And more gelato: from top left and clockwise: cookie gelato, fior di latte (cream) gelato, toffee gelato, and coffee gelato.
And if that wasn’t enough, left from top to bottom: Stracciatella (cream with chocolate pieces) gelato, and Nutella gelato!