Tired and with a wallet as empty as your stomach, you walk the streets of Nagoya. Images of pizza flash in your mind as you pray to the Pizza Goddess for her good graces. “Solo Pizza” a voice rings out. You will soon enter the hall of some of the greatest pizza champions the world over.
I love pizza. Like more than a friend kind of love. Since coming to Japan I haven’t been able to really connect to pizza as much as I used to. I had begun to believe that perhaps Japan just didn’t have what I needed. It was during my trip to Nagoya when that all changed.
My girlfriend had told me of a place she really enjoyed while she was living in Nagoya. Wanting to know more about her, as only knowing someones taste in pizza can tell you, we went to visit Solo Pizza. We entered the building and my long dead heart skipped a beat.
This is what promise looks like
A beautiful wood burning oven covered in tile instantly stood out. I couldn’t help but go over and inspect it before even making my order. After taking in the oven and it’s warm, inviting glory, I looked around the restaurant. Every detail of this place had a homey and down to earth vibe. It was if you had stepped into someone’s grandma’s house, but she was also a super hip interior designer.
Sufficiently ready to get my pizza on, I headed to the back of the line. Once there, something caught my eye.
Three trophies and some medals stood on top of the counter. I read the plaque next to them and was shocked to find that this store was the winners of a recent pizza contest. I looked around some more and saw that this wasn’t just some recent thing either, this store had been winning contests for years. Not just any contests, the world championships for Neapolitan style pizza. Somehow a city in Japan that wasn’t Tokyo or Osaka was the home of a world class pizza establishment.
I stumbled into the secret boss fight of the pizza world
Suddenly it dawned on me. I wasn’t just going to be having a good pizza, I was going to be having the best pizza in the world. I looked at my girlfriend in disbelief, did she know? Was her everyday pizza always the best in the world? Am I going to spend a fortune? With no time to figure any of these things out, it was my turn to order. I chose the two world title winning pies and prepped myself for the financial blow. 2100 yen was the total. Just about $20 USD. I was floored.
You wouldn’t believe what the “extra” is. OK. You probably would
I spent 850 yen on this pizza. 300 yen more than the regular margherita. The difference was the cheese. The Margherita Extra used water buffalo mozzarella vs regular cow’s milk. This is in line with what I expected from a certified Neapolitan style pizza. It was the price that blew my mind. You can barely get a large sized Domino’s pizza in Japan for 2000 yen, let alone a world champion level anything. Not one to judge food on price either way, I took a bite.
Perfectly executed pizza. Everything worked as is should have. The sauce, cheese, and basil ratio were spot on. The crust had a nice bite. The strands of gluten pulled apart and stretched ever so slightly from every part of the pizza, while still staying airy. Even the leopard spotting from the oven was in great proportion. I was in pizza bliss, and this wasn’t even made by one of the master Pizzaiuolos. My eyes darted across the table and set on my next victim.
I came here with someone else, but I have eyes only for you now
All the things that made the first pizza great were great about this pizza as well. The rapini and sausage went well with the white sauce. It was simple and deserving of the classic division win under its belt.
The fire in my heart was now a blaze, it couldn’t be stopped. I devoured both pizzas passionately. After I had finished, I took a little time to reflect.
I should have never been surprised that Nagoya had a pizza that was considered best in the world. I should have trusted that my girlfriend wouldn’t bring me to a place I wouldn’t like. Solo Pizza has brought back my faith. People all over the world love pizza as much as I do. Right now Nagoya is the best, but perhaps somewhere far away from Japan, or Italy, another pizza lover is blazing a trail towards the championship.
A pizza warrior pushes forward towards a bright future
Solo Pizza was beyond excellent. Was it my favorite pizza ever? No. Each of us has a favorite pizza in our heart. However, The technical skill I saw at Solo Pizza was probably some of the best I have ever witnessed. I can easily see why it is the best in the world, and it gave me more appreciation for all the other pizza I love in my life. If you ever are anywhere near Nagoya it is worth a trip to Solo Pizza. I know I’ll be back.