Behold Malafemmena, the latest addition to the Berlin Neapolitan pizza craze and a restaurant named after a song written by the Neapolitan actor Totò in the 50s. Why exactly owner Emmanuele Cirillo chose to call his restaurant “bad girl” remains his secret, but the name does have a ring to it. After pretty much every Berlin district has gotten their piece of Neapolitan pizza culture in the last two years (Standard in Prenzlauer Berg, Zola in Kreuzberg, Monella in Neukölln, Stranero in Wedding – check my top list for the best pizzas in Berlin), it only seems fair that Friedenau also gets one. What a spectacular pizza age we’re living in.
“…circumstances changed his fate into becoming an ambassador of Neapolitan pizza culture instead”
Emmanuele, who hails from Naples himself, was about to open up a chain of Polpetterias in Berlin when circumstances changed his fate into becoming an ambassador of Neapolitan pizza culture instead. The result is spelled Malafemmena and through his partner Luca Di Massa from Più39, a restaurateur from Naples and also the person behind the Associazione Verace Pizza napoletana (AVPN), the association for pizzerias that bake pizza in accordance with the AVPN rules defined for “True Neapolitan Pizza“ (“Vera Pizza Napoletana“), he had straight access to the best equipment and produce.
What a spectacular pizza age we’re living in.
Walking into Malafemmena you will be greeted by a Forno Valoriani, one of the best gas pizza ovens money can buy. It reliably blazes pizzas to perfection in about 60 seconds at 450 degrees celsius, making sure you get those little charred blisters on the crust you’re looking for in this kind of pizza. In comparison to many of the other Neapolitan style pizza places, Malafemmena do not limit themselves to pizza only. It is much more of a full-on hommage to Neapolitan food culture, complete with fish and meat dishes and Sundays dedicated to family style dining just the way Cirillo knows it from back home. One thing is certain though: The stars of the menu at this restaurant are the traditional pizzas. The other food is solid, but if you’re contemplating what to order on your first visit, there is zero doubt that your first word should spell out p-i-z-z-a.
“It reliably blazes pizzas to perfection in about 60 seconds at 450 degrees celsius, making sure you get those little charred blisters on the crust you’re looking for”
Favourite pizzas of mine include the Verace Napoletana, the classic Margaritha of Naples with tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, or the Salsiccia E Friarelli, a bianca (white pizza) with wild broccoli, salsiccia sausage and fior di latte cheese. These pizzas feature everything you want in a Neapolitan style version, including an elaborate dough that has that right chewiness with the occasional crisp part and crunchy blisters as well as toppings that, in terms of quality, outshine most of its Berlin peers by miles. We’re talking the best damn tomatoes from the hills of the Mount Vesuvius and cheese made from some of the very best milk you can get.
The fact that Malafemmena is the second restaurant in Germany to be credited as an official AVPN pizza is quite an achievement, but if you take into consideration that the restaurant was started in collaboration with the people behind the association, it’s also fairly straightforward. That’s why I would urge everyone to no put too much emphasis on the fact that Malafemmena has this award and other places like Standard and Zola don’t. My research on the topic has one clear conclusion: In the end it’s a great pizza that counts, and nothing else. Malafemmena serves a spectacular pizza that right now only is topped by the enthusiasts from Standard in Prenzlauer Berg, an institution that still is the benchmark when it comes to quality of the dough, tomatoes and cheese. That doesn’t change the fact that serves a sensational pizza and that Friedenau just seriously put itself on the pizza map.