If any renowned Italian pizzaiolo can get away with putting pineapple on a pie, it’s Gino Sorbillo. And if many of his countrymen disapprove, why should he care? It’s good publicity.

Sorbillo, a chef from one of Naples’ oldest and most respected pizza families, recently introduced a pineapple-topped pizza via social media. It’s now being served at Pizzeria Presepe Napoletano Ostaria in Naples.

“Surely 99% of the ‘Neapolitan Pineapple Pizza skeptics’ have never tried it,” Sorbino wrote in an Instagram post on December 30, 2023. “Try asking [them], have you ever eaten it??? Many say no just because they heard” it’s not any good.

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In the Instagram post, a smiling and bespectacled Sorbillo can be seen posing at a table with six whole pineapples arrayed in front of him. The post spawned hundreds of comments both from the pro- and anti-pineapplists.

This photo shows Gino Sorbillo with his chin resting on his hands, sitting at a table arrayed with six whole raw pineapples.

Gino Sorbillo / Instagram

One Instagram user registered their staunch disapproval, noting, “An ambassador of the Parthenopean gastronomic culture should export the latter and never mind that Made in the USA stuff that in the end only serves to unleash some tam tam and nothing else.” (If you’re wondering, the term “Parthenopean” refers to the short-lived Parthenopean Republic or Neapolitan Republic, which emerged in the Kingdom of Naples in 1799.)

Another simply stated, “I have unfollowed you.” Yet another took the opportunity to slam U.S. chefs who “believe that their food is even on par with ours…Americans are wrong all the way about food.”

But another Instagrammer rose to Sorbillo’s defense, writing, “I know there are lots of critics, but it doesn’t outrage me at all. Actually, I would willingly try it. I have always argued that cooking is a living thing, not something embalmed and in the rigid hands of the custodians of tradition. If it weren’t so, we wouldn’t have so many dishes born from mistakes, tests, additions, remixes, new products, etc…A dish may or may not be good, and only then, after tasting it, will I say pineapple pizza sucks.” That person went on to add, “To be honest, I have tasted it in the States before, and it was pretty gross, but yours, chef, looks definitely different and very appetizing.”

Undaunted by the criticism, Sorbillo went a step further in his next post on December 31: He introduced a pizza dolloped with ketchup—although not just any old American-style ketchup. It’s made with red and yellow date tomatoes grown in Italy.

The UK’s Daily Mail said Sorbillo is “now considered Naples’ best pizza maker.” The article goes on to state that he “is considered to be responsible for changing the perception of the pizzaiolo…from a second-rate cook into a highly respected occupation, managing to lift pizza into a respected cuisine.”

This photo shows Gino Sorbillo holding up a pizza inspired by a 2,000-year-old fresco uncovered in the ruins of Pompey.

Gino Sorbillo / Instagram

It’s hard to gauge how seriously Sorbillo takes these American-inspired pies, but at least some of his Instagram followers suggested he largely aims to provoke debate and further spread his fame via social media. “Do you know what the goal is?” one Instagrammer commented. “The goal is to make the name SORBILLO read, heard and pronounced [around] the world. He has the power to do it, and he is good.”

It’s quite possible that Sorbillo wants to both stir up controversy and challenge his country’s hidebound culinary traditions. He certainly isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of the pizza-making craft. In the summer of 2023, he developed a pizza inspired by an ancient fresco uncovered in the ruins of Pompeii. That 2,000-year-old artwork appeared to depict a focaccia-like precursor to pizza, minus the tomatoes and the mozzarella, which hadn’t yet arrived in the Old World.

Sorbillo’s Pompeii Pizza (pictured above) combined traditional Neapolitan pizza-making techniques with ingredients from the ancient Roman era, including spinach, pomegranate, anchovies, a modern take on garum, a traditional anchovy sauce, walnuts, lemon zest and olives.

Food & Ingredients