A proud slice of Marseille’s pizza heritage, this family-owned Noailles institution has been slinging its popular pizzas at low prices day and night since 1962.
Alongside the throngs filling their paniers at the Marché du Noailles and along the rue de Longue des Capucins, the counter at Pizza Charly is perpetually packed with people wanting to fill their bellies. From morning till midnight, under the glow of pendulum lights, red-aproned ladies hand piping-hot, paper-wrapped slices to the hungry crowds. Half a century old, one of the city’s most iconic spots is still going strong, energized by a new generation: Charly 2.0.
Charly took over the oven from his father, Charles (aka the first Charly) in 2013. Though he had grown up working “every job in the pizzeria”, he never intended to join the family biz, jetting to Paris instead for a fashion gig. When Charly senior told his son, “return or else we’ll have to sell it”, Charly traded textiles for tomato sauce, eager to be return to his hometown that he missed. Dad has since retired but you can find mom, Nabiya, the joint’s “mother figure” (nb: affectionately nicknamed “Charly” as well) behind the counter from 17:00 till late night.
Born from an Algerian mom and a Neapolitan dad, Charly embodies the ethnic bouillabaisse of Noailles. He’s passionate about the neighborhood – hence why he keeps prices low even as ingredient costs rise, why the pizza is halal, and why he won’t every stop serving calantica, a Spanish-Algerian chickpea cousin of socca adored by Maghreb customers.
For the pizza, a team of 12 churns out hundreds, sometimes over a thousand a day, with a choice of two-dozen different toppings from the classic anchovy to the more modern chicken curry. In spite of the large output and ridiculously low prices – 4 euros for a cheese pizza – the tasty pizzas are “made with love” not frozen foodstuffs. “We’re an artisanal factory”; Batigne flour, Basse-Savoie emmnethal, Charolais meat, veggies plucked from the market next door, and French canned tomatoes, though more expensive than the Italian ones, Charly is committed to using regional ingredients. The dough and sauce are made fresh everyday—the dough a day before to “absorb the air’s bacteria which helps it rise.”
If you prefer to eat with a fork and knife rather with your hands, head around the corner to the restaurant, a former fishmonger that Charly revamped two years ago. Choose from the cozy, brick-walled downstairs or head upstairs, where the long tables are popular with students at lunchtime watching Fresh Prince on the TV. Don’t miss the tiramisu made by his sister; this is a family affair after all.
Le Petit Plus : With a nod to his textile design past, Charly sells cool, pizza-centric graphic totes for just 3 euros, like Dali’s Persistence of Memory featuring dripping pizza instead of clocks.