When Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 book “Eat, Pray, Love” came out, chronicling her journey from heartsick through healing, and finally to finding her own sense of self and love, I read it. Yes, I read it and I enjoyed it. I identified with it — particularly that whole “Eat” part.
Gilbert wrote: ”I love my pizza so much, in fact, that I have come to believe in my delirium that my pizza might actually love me, in return. I am having a relationship with this pizza, almost an affair.” I too, I’m ashamed to admit, have felt many connections to exceptional pizza over the years, that I mistakenly confused as romantic advances.
The pizza Gilbert was eating in Naples was at the famous L’antica Pizzeria da Michele, which has been in business for 150 years. And now, finally we will be getting our own 8,000-square-foot location right down the street from Long Beach’s very own Naples.
Located at 4611 Second St., the enormous Belmont Shore space, formerly occupied by Papalucci’s Italian Restaurant, will be 8,000 square feet of what owner Francesco Zimone is calling an “al fresco haven,” with a 5,000-square-foot dining room surrounding 3,000 square feet of patio in an effort to replicate the idea of an Italian piazza. The Belmont Shore iteration of the famed Antica Café, sharing the idyllic al fresco courtyard that sits in the middle of the triangular establishment, will be offering espresso and Italian pastries, as well as a café menu.
Executive chef Michele Rubini (@chefmichelerubini) will be offering a menu that will include the original recipe for the famous Neapolitan pizza, as well as a selection of house made pastas that have been passed down through the generations, all being created in an exposed kitchen with glass walls where patrons can watch these creations come to life.