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I Masanielli Di Francesco Martucci In Caserta

Discover what it’s like to eat pizza at I Masanielli di Francesco Martucci In Caserta. We share the good and bad aspects of our two vastly different dining experiences.

Margerhita PizzaMani di Velluto Pizza from Above at I Massanielli di Francesco Martucci in Caserta
Image: ©2foodtrippers

Our excitment built as we approached I Masanielli di Francesco Martucci. Our relatively short 14-minute walk took us from our hotel past the epic Royal Palace of Caserta, one of Europe’s grandest palaces, to the famous pizzeria located below a daycare center in a Las Vegas style strip mall. Joining a crowd milling about in anticipation of the pizzeria’s 7pm opening, we anticpated eating what we hoped would be one of the best pizza dinners of our lives.

We had been longing to eat at this particular pizzeria for a couple reasons. First, trusted pizza pals had previously waxed poetically about their I Masanielli pizza experience. Second, the Caserta pizzeria landed on top of the ‘50 Top Pizza‘ list in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

Planning ahead, we pre-booked the pizzeria’s tasting menu for Daryl’s birthday dinner and naively assumed it would be similar to the satisfying tasting menu we had experienced at Pepe in Grani. But, after experiencing the ultra-gastronomic eight course tasting menu, we couldn’t help but notice drastic differences between the two.

Discover our picks for the best Naples pizzerias and our favorite Naples pizza tour.

Our Tasting Menu Dinner At I Masanielli Di Francesco Martucci

Scallop Pizza Slice at I Massanielli di Francesco Martucci in Caserta
This scallop-topped pizza slice commenced our gastromic eight-course meal at I Masanielli Di Francesco Martucci. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

During a meal which spanned hours, we were served eight precious pizza slices topped with gel, foam, caviar, molluscs and other ‘interesting’ ingredients. Some of the slices worked while others tasted more like gastronomic experiments than the pizza we craved.

In restropect, we appreciate Francesco Martucci’s desire to push culinary boundaries after decades of mastering the art of Neapolitan pizza making. We’ve eaten reindeer penis at Noma and spherified olives in Barcelona. But pizza is Italy’s ultimate comfort food. The thought of eating pizza slices topped with beet gel feels feels overly esoteric. It’s a pizza parlor, not a science museum.

We had this revelation while eating in the rear of the restaurant next to the pizza station. This proximity gave us a front row view of the outstanding ‘normal’ pizzas that whizzed by our table toward the majority of the more ‘educated’ diners.

Not every slice was a fail. Our first slice, steamed, baked and fried at three temperatures and topped with buffalao mozzerella, fermented lemon gel and a buttery, plump scallop, provided an auspicious start. Its crust was crunchy and it had a nice balance of salt and rich scallop-y sweetness.

The best slice was easily the Futuro di Marinara, one of just two slices available on the regular menu and also the restaurant’s signature pizza. Similarly steamed, baked and fried at three temperatures, it was topped with a medley of roasted tomato cream, olives, anchovies, wild garlic pesto, capers and oregano. The flavor combination worked but, alas, our two slices were so tiny that they were gone in a nano second.

Future of Marinara Pizza Slice at I Massanielli di Francesco Martucci in Caserta
We’re glad that our tasting menu dinner included a Futuro di Marinara slice. We just wish that it had been bigger so that we could have experienced the creative pie’s full impact. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We would have been satisfied had the other slices been equally tasty. Instead, they were adorned with a cacophony of chicory, marmalade gel, beet mouse and fermented mushroom cream. One slice, topped with buffalo cream, beluga caviar and camomile gel, was so bitter that it was inedible.

And the worst part? We were still hungry after our meal was over. Or were we?

Inside I Massanielli di Francesco Martucci - 20240221-5
Our table next to the kitchen in the back of the pizzeria provided us with a front row view to an endless parade of enticing pizzas whizzing by in rapid succession. To say that we experienced pizza envy is an understatement. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Cranky after almost three hours of dining disappointment, it hit us after we finished our eight precious slices plus dessert – we needed to order and eat a proper Margherita pizza. So, that’s what we did.

Finally, we tasted why Francesco Martucci and his pizzeria are so lauded. That humble pizza was exactly what we had expected to eat when we made the reservation. The supple yet crunchy pizza was topped with local ingredients that made our taste buds sing. It had it all – delicate, airy crust, a tangy biting San Marzano tomato sauce and just the right amount of the fior di latte cheese that has made Caserta one of the great farm provinces of Italy.

When the manager asked if we had enjoyed our meal, we responded with candid honesty. At first concerned that we were contesting the bill, she quickly changed course and insisted that we return the next day for a do-over. We agreed.

Our Do-Over Lunch at I Masanielli Di Francesco Martucci

Smiling Selfie at I Massanielli di Francesco Martucci in Caserta
We were all smiles during our do-over lunch at I Masanielli Di Francesco Martucci. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

As we quickly learned, lunch is the calmer meal at I Masanielli, at least during the week. Arriving at noon, we were quickly seated in a mostly empty room. An hour later, the room was filled with colleagues breaking bread, or in this case, pizza.

The service was noticeably friendlier too. And, unlike the tasting menu slices which had arrived on chichi plates, our lunch-time pizzas arrived on wooden boards. We ate them on simple white plates using basic cutlery and our hands.

We didn’t just eat pizza. We also enjoyed two of the pizzeria’s fried starters – a crocchè and a frittatina. The frittatina was particularly tasty with pieces of black pork, creamy pasta and pea cream that oozed inside a super crispy outer shell.

Our two pies were magnificent. The DOC pizza, topped with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano and cherry tomato confit, is the kind of indulgent pie that we often see at many top pizzerias but it works. The Caserta pie, topped a combination of tangy tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella and savory fennel sausage, is the kind of pizza we wish we would see on more pizza menus around Europe. (We’re suckers for ground sausage.)

Both pizzas were substantial. We were pleasantly full after scarfing scarfing down four slices each. We were also happy. Very happy.

Pro Tips For Eating At I Masanielli di Francesco Martucci

Pizzaiola at I Massanielli di Francesco Martucci in Caserta
If you’re wondering if eating at I Masanielli di Francesco Martucci is worth the extra effort, the answer is yes. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

I Masanielli’s Caserta location poses both challenges and rewards.

The challenges are twofold – (1) getting to the Campania city that’s located 22 miles from Naples and 124 miles from Rome and (2) scoring a reservation. Luckily, thanks to the country’s train network, intercity travel in Italy is both easy and affordable. As for scoring a reservation, that’s easy to do online for those with the foresight to plan ahead.

Once you arrive, you’ll need to choose from a selection of more than two dozen pizzas unless you’ve opted for the tasting menu, priced at 70 euros per person. Pizza prices range from 6 euros for the cheese-free Napoletana pizza to 16 euros for the Rucola Eccetera Eccetera pizza topped with rocket pesto, peeled tomato culatta ham and two cheeses. While some of these pizzas are vegetarian, one is full-on vegan. All prices are subject to change at any time and without prior notice.

Beyond the pizza itself, a bonus reward of eating at I Masanielli is the chance to visit Reggia Caserta, an epic palace built in the 18th century by the Bourbons. The rest of the town is a bit of a dud but visiting the palace is a solid Naples day trip option that can be done either after lunch or before dinner.

We’ll leave you with our two key pro tips:

  1. Make an advance reservation.
  2. Skip the tasting menu.

If you follow these two tips, you’re on your way to what may be the best pizza meal of your life. If not, get ready for an culinary adventure that you’ll likely either love or hate.

I Masanielli di Francesco Martucci is located at Viale Giulio Douhet, 11, 81100 Caserta CE, Italy.

Naples Planning Checklist

Check out our guide to eating in Italy as well as our picks for the best Italian foods and the best Italian desserts before your trip so that you don’t miss a delicious bite.

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About the Authors

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.


Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We self-funded our trip to Caserta and paid for our tasting menu dinner. The restaurant comped our lunch the next day with no expectation of coverage. We insisted on paying for our lunch but the manager refused to take our money.

Original Publication Date: March 27, 2024

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