Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Oi Mari... say it fast and it kind of sounds scary.
Halloween in Matera! What better day could there be to eat amazing pizza in a pizzeria built into a cave? That's right folks, I'm back on the pizza trail (never left really) and I found a great one at Oi Mari, in Matera. As mentioned previously, Matera is an ancient town built into the local limestone caves in Basalicata. Its also where the film Passion of the Christ was filmed.
So, on with it. I'd read good things about Oi Mari in Lonely Planet (LP). They recommended the place if one wanted good pizza in Matera and stated it was a "stylish Neapolitan pizzeria" and the pies were "well prepared." My first night in Matera (Oct 30), I strolled down to the pizzeria for a pie but they were booked up ALL NIGHT.... not even a one spot open. So, at least some other folks thought it was worth a visit too.
I called the next morning and made my reservation for 8:30 PM. That's what time they open for dinner... late-nighter's here in Matera. That day, I did not bike byt did spend about 5 hours walking and hiking around Matera. During the walking, all I could think of was getting a good Neapolitan pizza. My less-than-terrific pizza in Tropea left me wanting to have some pizza redemption.
I arrived a couple of minutes early... wait, make that 1 hour and a couple of minutes early. Uggg, in Italy they change their clocks on the 4th Sunday of October. And guess what? That's today! This created quite a bit of confusion (standing in the restaurant, looking at my watch, and having them repeatedly tell me otto e mezza) until I looked up the time change thing in my LP book. Man, I was hungry... so, I went to the bar next door for some pretzel-type snack and a beer.
Ott e mezza arrived and I was promptly seated. The oven was in the back, so not good visuals. In Italy, wood-fired ovens are ubiqutous at any respectable pizzeria so the whole seeing-your-pizza-bake-in-90-seconds sort of loses that uniqueness. Good pizza, baked in a hot oven is just expected. I knew exactly what I wanted:
The primavera.
C: "Potrei avere una primevera e una birra.... Carlsburg."
W: "Si."
C: "Grazie!"
The primavera had pomodori tomato (cut in half, not puried), mozzarella di bufalo, prosciutto crudo, basil, arugula, and olive oil. Sounded awesome.
And the moment finally arrived. Awesome. Perfect crust... my butterknife but right through it. The freshness of the tomato, creaminess of the mozzarella, salty tang of the prosciutto, and crispiness of the greens just melted in my mouth in a very blissful 10 minutes. Bellissimo!
Oi Mari is set in an old cave... the Sassi of Matera.


  1. to put pictures like that up, and to tell us about pizza like that... while flagstaff suffers without its pizzaiolo... is downright cruel.

    but kaiser -- who will forgive you any and all transgressions on the pizza front, unlike me -- says woof.

    keep 'em coming, i guess.

  2. sorry for my unabashed gloating ;)

    thanks for giving kaiser some love!

  3. Hey Caleb! How many miles are you riding each day? Thanks for sharing your adventure in Italty with us. Take care! Joe B