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What It’s Like To Eat Pizza At Pepe In Grani

Franco Pepe at Pepe in Grani
We were all smiles in the Pepe in Grani kitchen with Franco Pepe. It’s not every day that we spend time with a master chef. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

For centuries, people have said that all roads lead to Rome. For us, all roads lead to Caiazzo, at least the pizza roads in Italy.

As professional food travelers, we travel far and wide to experience the world’s best food. Renting a car to drive an hour for the best pizza in the world was a no-brainer for us since Daryl has stick shift skills and also because… pizza.

All roads lead to Caiazzo Italy
We drove 50 kilometers from Naples to Caiazzo in our quest for the world’s best pizza. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Our 50-kilometer drive was spectacular – filled with rolling hills, local, family-owned trattorias and centuries-old dwellings. We entered the narrow streets in the hill town of Caiazzo and found a city filled with ancient walls, hanging orange trees and jutting, winding stairways.

After a bit of searching, we found Pepe in Grani, the world famous Campania pizza restaurant, hidden among these alleys. Famed pizzaiolo Franco Pepe welcomed us with Italian coffee and introduced us to his world of pizza craft.

Why We Went To Pepe In Grani

Entrance to Pepe in Grani
Pepe in Grani, located in Caiazzo Italy, is reputed to serve the best pizza in the world.

While living for a month in a Naples apartment and eating as much Naples pizza as our waistlines could handle, we heard rumblings that there was even better pizza outside the city.

Better than the best pizza in Naples? Inconceivable! We love the pizza in Naples!

Read our Naples pizza guide.

These rumblings were about Pepe in Grani, a Compania pizzeria opened in 2012 and helmed by pizzaiolo Franco Pepe. Respected culinary professionals have sung their praises for Pepe and his restaurant Pepe in Grani. We’re talking about people like Nancy Silverton, Emeril Lagasse and the late Jonathan Gold.

Intrigued, we reached out to Pepe in Grani and requested a reservation. A couple weeks went by with no response.

And then, just days before our month in Naples ended, we got an email inviting us to the restaurant with an opportunity to meet Franco Pepe. Score! Of course, we replied with a resounding yes.

Since our visit to Franco Pepe’s temple of pizza gastronomy, Pepe in Grani has grown in popularity. The burgeoning YouTube generation has learned of Franco Pepe through the channel Alex French Guy Cooking, while Netflix audiences have vicariously experienced his legendary shop through shows like Ugly Delicious and Chef’s Table: Pizza.

And, despite the restaurant’s remote location, more culinary food tours are adding a visit to Caizzo to their tour itineraries. Sure, legendary pizza parlors like 50 Kalo, Da Michele and Sorbillo have branched out, opening new outposts in cities like London and New York. However, a journey to Caizzo and to Pepe in Grani is a singular experience, a pinnacle of eating in Italy.

There’s no pizza in the world like Franco Pepe’s. In this era of crazy global accessibility, we’re okay that eating the best pizza in the world requires a special journey to the intimate, ancient, tight, dark stone alleys of Caizzo. For food travelers like us, it’s worth the extra effort.

Franco Pepe – The Pizzaiola Behind Pepe In Grani

Vintage Photo at Pepe in Grani
Three generations of Pepe’s have made pizza in Campania. Franco Pepe learned the ropes young (as pictured in this photograph displayed on the wall at Pepe in Grani) and is proud to take the art of pizza making to the next level. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Franco Pepe has pizza running in his veins. After learning the pizza making ropes from his father and grandfather, this third generation pizza maker embraced the global slow food movement and took his family’s trade to the highest level of pizza craftsmanship.

Commanding in the kitchen and passionate when he speaks, Pepe doesn’t rest on the laurels that he has achieved. Quite the contrary – Pepe’s work ethic reminds us of top chefs that we know in Philadelphia and New York. He demands excellence from himself, his staff and his products. Especially his products.

Pepe, a vocal proponent of the hyper-local food movement, exclusively utilizes ingredients from local farmers and producers. He goes out of his way to procure the best local ingredients like tomatoes and other vegetables from La Sbecciatrice, a nearby farm in Villa Santa Croce and olive oil from Ruviano’s Petrazzuolo.

Pepe nurtures his relationships with these producers, which goes a long way. We witnessed this in action when we met one of Pepe’s olive oil producers at the restaurant. Like us, he was all smiles in the home of pizza excellence.

Olive Oil Producer at Pepe in Grani
Franco Pepe procures products from the best local producers. Pictured here is his olive oil producer. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

As Pepe explained to us, it all starts with the flour. He uses a special blend of zero flour that is manufactured in Bari to his exact specifications, though he is also experimenting with new flour recipes using ingredients exclusively from Caiazzo. Pepe’s pizza magic starts with that flour, but it doesn’t stop there.

Pepe mixes the flour by hand and then lets the resulting dough settle for 12 hours in special wooden flour casks. As we watched the dough bubble like something out of a horror movie, the future pizza seemed to be a living entity, both scary and beautiful at the same time.

Our Dinner At Pepe In Grani

We expected to find a typical pizzeria in Caiazzo. We were wrong.

Pizzeria Pepe in Grani is located in a historic three-story stone building that could easily house a fancy restaurant. It has multiple eating areas, private dining rooms, spectacular views and two decked out hotel suites.

In other words, Pepe is offering a luxury destination dining experience fit for a wedding as well as for people who love pizza. We won’t be surprised when, not if, Pepe in Grani earns its first Michelin star.

For our dinner, we agreed to skip the Pepe in Grani menu and experience the restaurant’s tasting menu at the suggestion of sommelier Davide Guarino. We originally wanted to order full pies, but this would have meant that we’d only get to try a couple pies. Instead, by going with the tasting menu, we got to try a wide sampling of pies plus a few extra treats.

Pizza and Beer at Pepe in Grani
Pizza and Beer, as Served at Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo Italy | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Guarino steered us toward drinking beer with our meal. About 60% of Pepe in Grani’s customers opt for pizza and beer, with many ordering the Triticum beer that local Birra Antoniana exclusively brews for the pizza restaurant.

At Guarinio’s suggestion, we shared a bottle of Karma’s Marilyn, a light yet highly fermented beer with a malty, herbaceous flavor. Not surprisingly, Birrificio Artigianale Karma is just a 14-minute drive from the Franco Pepe pizzeria.

But what about the pizza?

Just like he embraces hyper-local ingredients, Pepe also champions the seasonality of food, a trademark of the slow food movement. Pepe confided to us that autumn is the best time for ingredients since the weather is perfectly balanced between hot and cold, but we can’t imagine a better meal than the pizza feast we ate during the winter.

Our tasting menu took us on a tour of Pepe’s pizza genius in eight glorious courses. As we shared the creatively colorful, miniature pies, we kept thinking “Is this for real?” Luckily, we have the photos and video to prove that this food was indeed for real.

Course 1 – Libretto

Libretto at Pepe in Grani
Course 1 – Libretto | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Proving that Pepe is a man for the people, this libretto cost just €1.50 at the time of our meal. This small sized pizza has tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil. Stored in the oven, these inexpensive starters are ready to eat when ordered.

The libretto was our ‘introduction’ to Pepe’s incredibly airy, flavorful flatbread. It was also a simple ‘folding door’ to what was to follow.

Course 2 – Potato Croquettes

Potato Croquettes at Pepe in Grani
Course 2 – Potato Croquettes | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Pepe in Grani serves 5,600 potato croquettes every day of the week. That’s a lot of croquettes!

We ate a lot of tasty fried food in Naples, but these were tastier than the treats we ate at Neapolitan friggitorias.

Course 3 – Fried Pizza Calzone

Fried Pizza Calzone at Pepe in Grani
Course 3 – Fried Pizza Calzone | Image: ©2foodtrippers

In Naples, we ate fried pizza for a euro or so. But that fried pizza couldn’t hold a candle to the stuffed calzone we shared at Pepe in Grani. This calzone was filled with ricotta cheese, smoked scamorza cheese, salami and pepper.

Course 4 – Classic Margherita And Mystic Margherita Pie

Classic Margherita and Mystic Margherita Pie at Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo
Course 4 – Classic Margherita and Mystic Margherita Pie | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Margherita pizza was allegedly invented in Campania many moons ago for Queen Margherita, and Pepe honors that history with his classic Margherita pie. This pie is topped with tomato sauce, fior de latte (a semi-soft cheese similar to mozzarella cheese) and extra virgin olive oil.

Ramping up the Campania classic, the PDO Margherita pizza sports Mozzerella di Bufala DOP, raw riccio tomatoes from La Sbecciatrice, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

Course 5 – Profumi Del Matese And Scarpetta Pie

Profumi del Matese and Scarpetta Pie at Pepe in Grani
Course 5 – Profumi del Matese and Scarpetta Pie | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The Matese half of this pie was topped with fior di latte cheese, Matese cheese, porcini mushrooms, oregano from Matese and baked, flavored little tomatoes.

The Scapretta half featured Mozzarella di Buffala, 13-month aged Grana Padano cheese cream tomato compote, freeze-dried basil, 24-month aged Grana Padana cheese shavings and extra virgin olive oil.

We hate to pick favorites. So we didn’t. Instead, we ate both halves until they were gone.

Course 6 – Sfizio Ai Pomodori And Alleterata Pie

Sfizio ai Pomodori and Alleterata Pie at Pepe in Grani
Course 6 – Sfizio ai Pomodori and Alleterata Pie | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Little yellow tomatoes, oh how we love you. Maybe that’s why we loved the Sfizio ai Pomodori pie half with little yellow tomatoes, salted sundried San Marzano tomatoes, Mozzarella di Bufala DOP, Grana Padano cheese and extra virgin olive oil.

We also love tuna, but we didn’t fall in love with the Alletterata pie half with its Talletterato tuna, Mozzarella di Bufala DOP, onion cream and baked in ice celery. It’s not that this pie was bad; rather, the flavor combination just didn’t work for us.

Course 7 – Fig And Strong Cheese Pie

Fig and Strong Cheese Pie at Pepe in Grani
Course 7 – Fig and Strong Cheese Pie | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Who knew that fig and strong cheese would work so well together and on pizza? Now that we know, we wonder why this dessert-like pie is not on more pizzeria menus.

Do try this combination at home. It’s way better than the more typical Nutella pie.

Course 8 – Biscuits And Brandy

Biscuits and Brandy at Pepe in Grani
Course 8 – Biscuits and Brandy | Image: ©2foodtrippers

Seven courses down, we were so full that we could barely move. Somehow, though, we found room for the final course of biscuits and sherry. We always do when it comes to Italian desserts and drinks. Do you blame us?

Called Nonna Amelia biscuits and made with Pallagrello wine, olive oil and hazelnuts, these cookies were a sweet version of the savory taralli biscuits that we ate by the bagful in Naples. Washing them down with small glasses of 3-year aged Antica Distilleria Petrone’s Falernum Elixir was a sweet ending to our fantastic pizza meal.

Pepe In Grani Menu

Pepe in Grani Pizza
We still dream about the pizza we ate at Pepe in Grani. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

The Pepe in Grani menu is separated into the following sections:

  • Appetizers
  • Fried Cones
  • Fried Pizzas
  • Pitte
  • Traditional Pizzas
  • Innovative Pizzas
  • Seasonal
  • Mediterranean Pizza
  • Tasting Menu | Experience
  • Spritz
  • Wines
  • Beers
  • Beverages
  • End of the Meal

Prices remain fair despite the pizzeria’s fame. Pizza prices start at 5€ for a Marinara Classica pie and go up to 15€. Tasting menus range in price from 35€ to 65€. Prices are subject to change at any time.

Getting To Pepe In Grani

Caiazzo View at Pepe in Grani
The views in Caiazzo are well worth the one-hour drive from Naples. | Image: ©2foodtrippers

For customers making special trips to eat Pepe in Grani pizza from Italian cities like Rome, Bari and Naples, the most direct way to get Caiazzo is by car. Other options include taking a bus, train or taxi.

As for us, it was easy. We rented a car in Naples for the scenic 50-kilometer drive. Since it was just a one-day car rental, the cost was affordable for our Pepe in Grani trip.

Pro Tip
Learn how to drive a manual transmission or “stick” before you rent a car in Europe. The cost is exponentially lower compared to renting automatic cars in Europe.

Video Recap

Watch our YouTube video to see what it’s like to eat the world’s best pizza. See Franco Pepe feed pizza to one of us, an ultimate pizza experience. Bonus points if you can guess who gets fed by the pizza master before you watch the video.

Plan Your Caiazzo Trip

Caiazzo Alleyway at Pepe in Grani
Caiazzo is filled with ancient alleyways. Why not stay for a night to explore the quaint Italian town? | Image: ©2foodtrippers

We decided not to stay overnight in Caiazzo, a decision that we regretted once we arrived in Caiazzo. Not only is Caiazzo a cute town with intriguing alleys to explore, but the dark drive to Naples is not so fun after eating a multi-course pizza meal.

If you plan ahead, you can try to book one of the luxurious on-site hotel rooms at Pepe in Grani. If not, Caiazzo has various accommodations for all budgets.

Pepe in Grani is located at Vicolo S. Giovanni Battista, 3, 81013 Caiazzo CE, Italy.

Caiazzo 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 Caiazzo.

We thank Franco Pepe and his team for hosting us for dinner us to facilitate this article.

Original Publication Date: July 6, 2017


Saturday 4th of February 2023

You guys are awesome. Would you have a budget hotel recommendation for a one week stay in Naples with the focus being to eat as many great pizzas as possible? Ideally to be able to walk to a few of the great pizzerias from the hotel. Thanks.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Friday 10th of March 2023

We would say to check Our only advice as far as the hotel is to book away from the Central Station and Piazza Garibaldi. Also, though it's nice up there, stay away from booking in Vomero and the upper town. Have a great trip!!

Ysaac Akinin

Saturday 25th of December 2021

Sounds very unprofessional that you make a claim of the best pizza in the world when there are literally millions of places and as many or more people making pizza in as many fashions and styles and you have only tried some handfuls of them. Add to this the different preferences of so many people around the world and Voila! Really? The best? For whom? Come on please grow your show. It all boils down to claiming the most beautifull color in the world.


Monday 26th of September 2022

@Ysaac Akinin, Pepe received the award for the best pizza master in the world this year in Madrid. This is the most prestigious award in culinary arts. The Best Chef:

The Best Chef City Best - Dabiz Munoz

The Best Pizza Chef - Franco Pepe

The Best Chef inovator - Josh Niland

The Best Chef Food art award - Natsuko Shoji

The Best Chef Legend Award - Pierre Koffman

The Best Pastry Chef - Antonio Bachour

The Best Chef Rising Star - Jessica Rosval

The Best Chef Dining Experience - Anne- Sophie Pic

The Best Chef New Entry - Ricardo Camanini

The Best Chef Pristine - Ana Roš

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Sunday 26th of December 2021

We made this assertion based on the numerous awards bestowed upon both the restaurant and the chef by reputable sources as well as our personal experiences. We totally understand if you don't agree with these experts. As for us, we'll keep eating pizza around the world in case the experts were wrong.

Hal Bes

Sunday 28th of November 2021

This all sounds amazing, almost wish I hadn't read it as it almost seems like a spoiler for the experience! I am trying to plan a secret honeymoon trip in Italy for my soon to be wife and would love to know what that whole dining experience cost! Could also have that discussion in private if preferred!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Monday 30th of May 2022

How wonderful! We recommend that you contact the restaurant directly either via an email or a Skype call. That's the best way to get the current pricing. Plus, you can request a reservation at the same time. Good luck!

Mark Myles

Friday 6th of August 2021

To your suggestion on car rentals, I believe it is typically called a manual transmission instead of manual transition. As to the food, a fascinating story!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Saturday 7th of August 2021

We're so glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for catching the typo!

R. Durand

Thursday 2nd of July 2020

RE: trains do not travel to Caiazzo

My spouse and I visited Pepe in Grani in 2019. We in fact rode the rails from Naples to Caiazzo in a quaint train, definitely an older model. We stayed the night in one of the restaurant’s beautiful rooms and explored the town the next day, had some panini and beer in the park, shopped the pop-up market. An absolutely memorable experience! And I would definitely say that Pepe in Grani served me the BEST pizza of my life.

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Friday 3rd of July 2020

Thanks for the info. It's great that you stayed overnight since the last train to Naples leaves Caiazzo at 7:30 PM. We're so glad you enjoyed the experience. Caiazzo is a charming hill town that many tourists don't know about. We're also glad you loved the pizza. It's so epic.

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