In the film Eat Pray Love, there is a now-iconic scene where Julia Roberts tucks into a slice of Neapolitan pizza admitting, “I’m in love, I’m having a relationship with my pizza.” The scene was shot in Antonio Condurro’s L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples, a pizza joint that is now one of the most famous in the world. Today, the restaurant remains closed as Naples mourns the death of Antonio Condurro, son of the pizzeria’s founder Michele Condurro.
Born in 1932, Antonio Condurro would dedicate his life to pizza. When he took over the running of the family pizzeria in Naples along with his brother Salvatore, he stuck firmly to tradition. As is customary in the city, he served only two pizzas: Margherita — topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil and oil — and Marinara — with a topping of tomato sauce, oil, oregano and garlic. The few simple ingredients amalgamated perfectly into the classic Neapolitan dish earned the restaurant worldwide fame.
Commenting on the filming of Eat Pray Love in 2009, Condurro said, “I don’t even know how many times they shot the scene […] but Julia Roberts never ate a single mouthful. I asked myself how she could resist our pizza.” At the end of filming, however, Condurro was moved by the applause and enthusiasm of the crew, who even invited him to America. Although honored, he said, “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go away from Forcella [the location of the pizzeria].”
Over the years, several celebrities have eaten at the marble tables set against the white and green tiles, watching as the bubbling pizzas emerge from the great wood-fired oven. Jude Law passed by when filming The Pope while fashion brand Comme Des Garçons once produced a t-shirt in the pizzeria’s honor.
For Naples, pizza is an enshrined tradition and Condurro was one of its leaders. A statement by his pizzeria read, “Today we will be closed, out of respect for a man who is the history of our pizzeria. Because, without history, there is no present or future and we must pay homage, real and heartfelt, to those who have contributed to building its beauty.” The statement continued, “Don Antonio will always remain within the walls of his beloved pizzeria, where he has given happiness to many.”