The golden child of the of the Martha Hoover family, Napolese gets a lot of the glory. And for good reason. All three Napolese locations have attracted an assembly of adoring fans, from posh suburbanites to budget-minded hipsters hooked on the evolving menu of artisanal pies and small plates. Hoover has a knack for bestowing each site with a distinctive personality—lofty ceilings at the downtown spot, a rich color palette at the Fashion Mall post. And soon, she’ll make her mark nationwide as her pizzerias start popping up in Simon malls across the country. Still, we’re partial to the original Meridian-Kessler location, where an intimate, dimly lit dining room is built around an exposed hearth oven, and the pizza gods shine a heavenly spotlight on executive chef Tyler Herald as he puts on a master class in pizza perfection. Herald’s finest concoctions include a pie covered in dilled creme fraiche and layered with smoked salmon; the acclaimed Donatello’s pie, topped with Brussels sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, and winter squash; and the house-favorite double-chopped salad flanked by Smoking Goose pork.
INSIDER TIP: Don’t skip the starters; they are some of the most compelling items on the menu. Our recommendation: the white-bean cassoulet, stacked with brown beans, crisp pancetta, tender pork shoulder, and sausage.
PREVIOUS MENTIONS: Best Restaurants 2011, 2013
114 E. 49th St., 925-0765; 30 S. Meridian St., 317-635-0765, The Fashion Mall, 317-705-0765; napolesepizzeria.com
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This article appeared in the May 2014 issue.