Disclaimer: Some of our articles contain affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you click on these links and make purchases, but it won't cost you anything extra.

Pepe in Grani - The Best Pizza in the World

All Roads Lead to Caiazzo Italy for the Ultimate Pizza at Pepe in Grani

In Destination Dining, Italy, Videos by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch9 Comments

Is Pepe in Grani the world’s ultimate pizza restaurant? We rented a car and followed the roads to Caiazzo Italy to find out for ourselves.

Franco Pepe - 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.

All roads lead to Caiazzo - Pepe in Grani

We drove 50 kilometers from Naples to Caiazzo in our quest for the world’s best pizza.

For centuries, people have said that all roads lead to Rome. For us, all roads lead to Caiazzo, at least the pizza roads. 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 especially with Daryl’s newly acquired stick shift skills.

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 much searching, we found Pepe in Grani, hidden among these alleys. Famed pizzaiolo Franco Pepe welcomed us with an Italian coffee and showed us into his world of pizza craft.

Pepe in Grani Video

Watch our Pepe in Grani 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.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more meals and conversation with the 2foodtrippers.

Why We Went to Pepe in Grani

Pepe in Grani Exterior - 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 Airbnb 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!

These rumblings were about Pepe in Grani, a 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 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.

Franco Pepe – The Pizzaiola Behind Pepe in Grani

Vintage Photo - 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.

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.

Olive Oil Producer - Pepe in Grani

Franco Pepe procures product from the best local producers. Pictured here is his olive oil producer.

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.

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. Seriously, 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 do a 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, with the tasting menu, we got to try a wide sampling of pies plus a few extra treats.

Pizza and Beer - Pepe in Grani

Pizza and Beer, as Served at Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo Italy

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 - Pepe in Grani

Course 1 – Libretto

Proving that Pepe is a man for the people, his libretto costs just €1.50. 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. This 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 - Pepe in Grani

Course 2 – Potato Croquettes

Pepe in Grani serves 5,600 potato croquettes, every day of the week. That’s a lot of croquettes! We ate a lot of fried food in Naples, but these were better than those served at typical friggitorias.

Course 3 – Fried Pizza Calzone

Fried Pizza Calzone - Pepe in Grani

Course 3 – Fried Pizza Calzone

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 - Pepe in Grani

Course 4 – Classic Margherita and Mystic Margherita Pie

Margherita pizza was 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 olivie oil.

Course 5 – Profumi del Matese and Scarpetta Pie

Profumi del Matese and Scarpetta Pie - Pepe in Grani

Course 5 – Profumi del Matese and Scarpetta Pie

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 mozzerella 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 - Pepe in Grani

Course 6 – Sfizio ai Pomodori and Alleterata Pie

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, mozzerella 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 - Pepe in Grani

Course 7 – Fig and Strong Cheese Pie

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 at home – it’s way better than the more popular Nutella pie.

Course 8 – Biscuits and Brandy

Biscuits and Brandy - Pepe in Grani

Course 8 – Biscuits and Brandy

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. 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 ultimate pizza meal.

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

The Best Way to Get to Pepe in Grani

Caiazzo View - Pepe in Grani

The views in Caiazzo are well worth the one-hour drive from Naples.

For customers making special trips to eat Pepe in Grani pizza from Italian cities like Rome, Bari and Naples, the best way to get Caiazzo is by car. Italy may have a great rail system, but trains do not travel to Caiazzo. 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.

Book Your Rental Car Now!

***

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

Book Your Caiazzo Hotel

Caiazzo Alleyway - Pepe in Grani

Caiazzo is filled with ancient alleyways. Why not stay for a night to explore the quaint Italian town?

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.

Plan ahead and book one of the two luxurious on-site hotel rooms at Pepe in Grani for a reasonable rate of €90 including breakfast. Otherwise, click here to research other hotel options near Caiazzo Italy.

Start Planning Your Trip Now

Lonely Planet Southern Italy (Travel Guide)
List Price: $24.99
Price: $16.99
You Save: $8.00
Price Disclaimer

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

Best Pizza in the World | Pepe in Grani | Caiazzo | Italy | Neapolitan Pizza | Pepe in Grani Pizza | #PepeInGrani #Pizza #PepeInGraniPizza

Disclaimer: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Comments

  1. Wow, this looks like an amazing place. I want to go to Caiazzo, Italy now too to taste the best pizza in the World!!! I love pizza! I cant miss out on this place.

  2. Oh wow. I recall that Naples post Daryl and Mindi. I still salivate over it. Better than that? Brilliant. I have enjoyed authentic Italian pizza in a few spots outside of Italy. So it was not REAL authentic but darn close methinks as the Italian restaurant owners told me it was the real deal. I will have to actually visit the boot to verify this 🙂

    1. Author

      Thanks! You’re certainly welcome to taste any picture we post from Pepe in Grani or Naples by traveling to Italy. Try too hard not to lick the screen. That wouldn’t taste very good.

  3. I loved everything, I was reading and my hunger was increasing … how it should be delicious here … I already lived in Spain and seeing these pizzas made me want to go to Europe again. Thank you for the brilliant content.

Leave a Comment