Sculpting, painting, and architecture are some of the most notable art forms that come to mind when we reflect on Italia’s expansive history and the nation’s role in artistic developments. Michelangelo, Botticelli, and Brunelleschi will, undoubtedly, forever remain implanted in our minds as being the Italian “greats” of art. But sculpting and painting are not the only artistic expressions that are noteworthy; Italians have a way of transforming seemingly simple tasks into grandiose art forms, even when it comes to making pizza. The Neapolitan preparation of pizza is often the most highly regarded, and for good reason. It boasts a thin but soft crust, with simple, fresh, ingredients, but distinct flavor. With the perfect dose of highly refined “00” Caputo flour, La Fiammante tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, freshly plucked basil, and a touch of Neapolitan flare, one can create the perfect pizza pie.
Michael Magner, an Endicott College alum with an entrepreneurial spirit and love for all-things-Italian, has imported the Neapolitan tradition of pizza-making to the North Shore in downtown Beverly, MA, at Prides Piccola Napoletana. While maintaining his thriving Pride’s Deli on Hale Street in Beverly since 2009, Magner knew that the next location for his expanding brand would be on Rantoul St., a main road in the city center that will be undergoing massive revitalization within the next few years.
Magner’s love for Italian food began as a child, as he grew up tasting his grandmother’s delicacies, the recipes of which she had learned as a child in Catanzaro, Calabria. He was also fortunate enough to have traveled to Italy on multiple occasions with his father, who worked as an Italian wine importer. Magner, with his strong business skills, knew that in order to create a successful Italian eatery here in the US, he needed to provide a balance of authentic regional Italian cuisine with comfort food, which many would consider to be the more typical Italian American fare. And with this in mind, the idea of bringing the perfect Neapolitan traditional pizza to Beverly came to life.
In order to create an authentic product, he needed the proper equipment to do so. So Magner commissioned a master pizzaiolo, the internationally acclaimed Antonio Langella, to make one of his customary, wood-fired, pizza ovens, which is only one of five located in the US, exclusively for Piccola Napoletana. The hand-constructed oven was assembled piece by piece from Italian marble, and sands from Mt. Vesuvius. The oven’s small mouth allows for little air to escape, which causes the oven’s inside temperature to remain at a constant 1200 degrees Farenheit. Customers needn’t worry about waiting long for their pizze to be prepared, with such high temperature they are cooked in a flash, quite literally!
Everything in Piccola Napoletana is imported from Italy, from the red pomodori on your pizza, to the very dish that it is served on- all to make the experience as genuinely Italian as possible. Italian products can be seen all over the cozy space. Jars of San Marzano tomatoes line the walls, next to Italian Caputo Flour on display. With each item one samples on the menu, a customer’s first bite undeniably reveals the quality of the products used to make it.
Pizze of all varieties arrive piping-hot on a traditionally Neapolitan 13-inch plate. With an appropriately crispy crust, all pizze have the perfect ratio of cheese to sauce, leaving all bites satisfyingly chewy and soft with the perfect balance of sweet and salty. The “00” refined farina used to make the dough leaves the pizza with a particular lightness and freshness that sets it apart from any other on the Northshore. Although this Neapolitan specialty is the all-star of Magner’s menu, diners must not overlook what else Piccola Napoletana has to offer. With a plethora of various calzoni, sandwiches, and antipasti offered, there is something on the menu for everybody. For those willing to try a bite of something new, the Timballo is an irrefutably perfect selection. With a crunchy, fried coating, the timballo oozes with goodness when cut into. Filled with lightly fried spaghetti, velvety besciamella sauce, and a center of creamy mozzarella, one can feel truly Italian when indulging in this typical dish.
When customers are in the mood for a beer, a glass of wine, or a taste of sweet, homemade, limoncello to enjoy alongside their meals, Magner provides quite a diverse selection. From the traditional Peroni or Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, to your top-knotch Prima Perla Prosecco or Borgianni Super Tuscan, it becomes clear to guests that Prides Piccola Napoletana is simply echelons above your average pizza joint. Make Prides Piccola Napoletana your next destination for a full dining experience that will transport you from Beverly’s city center to the heart of Napoli.