Oh, how we miss Naples. The history, the castles, Mt. Vesuvius, the sea, the churches (some of our favorites in Italy), Naples has a lot going for it. But let’s be real, the true reason that Naples is one of the coolest cities in Italy is the food. Food is part of Napoli’s DNA and our stomachs were thrilled. In this post, we introduce some foods you must try when you find yourself in Naples, Italy. Let’s eat!
Things to Note About Food in Naples
As is the case for all of Italy, be mindful of what time it is! If you spend too much time exploring Naples in the morning and early afternoon then your restaurant may be closed until evening! No two restaurants are the same, but you can assume they’ll start closing around 2 pm and re-open after 5 pm, many as late as 7 pm. Again, it depends on the restaurant! Not a bad idea to check with Google beforehand!
Of course, the food of Naples we mention below isn’t healthy but there are plenty of vegetarian options, especially when it comes to pizza. Vegans might have a harder time in Naples.
Unlike in America, you eat pizza with a knife and fork. The pizzas are huge and don’t come pre-sliced. It’s not hard to do and is a much easier skill to grasp than chopsticks!
One very important note: if you see “peperoni” on the menu, it’s not a typo of the meat topping pepperoni. It’s a sliced up bell pepper.
Really? Pizza? In Italy? Duh.
Ok, we know when you think of pizza in Italy it’s a no-brainer that it’s going to taste good. However, the pizza pie as we know it today, came from Naples. We’ve heard many reasons as to why pizza in Naples is so good: tomatoes grown in Campania, the water in Napoli, buffalo mozzarella from Campania. If you haven’t noticed a pattern here, this region really likes its ingredients.
So yes, pizza isn’t just your typical Italian dish here and you have to try it when you’re in town. It’s a BIG DEAL. When you’re visiting Naples, we encourage you to try the classics like margherita but to also branch out and try all their creative ways of serving up some pizza.
It’s said that this pizza is named in honor of Margherita of Savory, the queen consort of the Kingdom of Italy. A local chef whipped up a simple pizza with mozzarella cheese, San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, salt and extra-virgin olive oil. Don’t leave Naples without trying this phenomenal pizza!
We tried this pizza at many restaurants but our favorite was at Pizzeria Giuliano, located near Piazza del Gesù Nuovo and two magnificent churches.
Another kind of pizza pie served at Pizzeria Giuliano and many other restaurants. Napoli fried pizza is folded in half (think calzone) and deep fried. While we sampled this fried delight in restaurants, we’ve heard the best place to enjoy this pizza is at a street food stall like Friggitoria Fiorenzano in the market at Pignasecca. As you can imagine, fried pizza is a very heavy meal so think about splitting it with someone!
Folded (Wallet) Pizza
If you’re on the go then this is a great option! A folded or wallet pizza is just what it sounds like. A pizza folded into the shape of a wallet so that you can easily eat it on the go. If you want to try it then be sure to keep a sharp eye for street food stands that sell it.
You can try so many more types of pizza while in Naples. We’ve had everything from a variety of vegetables to spicy wurstel on our pizza and ever bit of it was incredible. You can walk into almost any pizzeria and be served a delicious piece of pie. Let’s be real, even “bad” pizza is good pizza.
Other pizza restaurants worth mentioning: Pizzeria 900 and Pizzeria Vecchia Napoli
If you’ve been to Sicily then arancini has probably found a special place in your heart. But Naples does a pretty awesome job of serving up this fried ball of delicious. If Naples is the farthest south you’re venturing in Italy then be sure and try the arancini here. It’s a fried ball of rice, meat, and cheese. It can also be served without meat. There are many options!
When it comes to the main course in Naples, genovese is a must try food. Onions, lots of onions, simmer for hours in white wine and the sauce that’s produced is simply delectable. Throw in vegetables, meat, or even octopus (which is what we tried) and you’re on your way to a real Sunday meal like a Neapolitan.
We were given a recommendation to dine at Tandem (you should too) and were so thankful for it. There are three locations in Naples and they specialize in genovese and ragu so you’re in good hands here. As a bonus, it’s very budget friendly, especially considering the quality of food.
We can’t get enough of ragu. Even before our adventures abroad we were making ragu back in the States. While the recipe we use is good, it doesn’t compare to the ragu we ordered at Tandem in Naples. This is a must try food in Naples, just like genovese.
Tomatoes, beef and various veggies are slow cooked for hours and served over a tender pasta of your choosing. Tandem, our favorite place in Naples, also has a vegetarian option! No words can do this sauce true justice. You have only to try it for yourself!
Cannoli is another Sicilian perfection that is worth trying in Naples. When you walk through Old Town, particularly on Spaccanapoli, you’ll spot lots of cannoli in shop windows. It’s not expensive and there are plenty of other desserts waiting to be eaten so hop in and try one or a few!
However, if you are planning a trip to Sicily after Naples then you may want to hold off and wait until you get to the island. Or, just eat as much as you can!
Sfogliatella’s origins come from just down the street in Salerno and it now has a happy home in Naples. When you’re perusing the desserts like baba and cannoli, you’ll definitely see sfogliatella. It’s a layered pastry usually filled with ricotta cheese but you may find other varieties as well, like cream-filled.
The sweetest of sweets! Phew, this one was so rich we really had to take our time. But, of course, we fell in love. Soaked in rum, filled with nutella and topped with white chocolate sauce, the famous baba of Naples will satisfy your sweet tooth and then some.
If nutella isn’t your thing then there are other options as well. You can always just simply have a small baba, which is just the rum cake itself.
Honestly, we prefer real chocolate over Nutella and probably would have chosen a different filling had we known, but who are we kidding? It was freaking delicious.
Ah, of course, gelato. What trip to any Italian city is complete without it? We’ve had award-winning gelato in Tuscany and we’ve tried it all the way down on the Sicilian coast. Alas, we’ve never been disappointed and Naples proved to be just as tasty.
Look for any gelato shop through Old Town and load up. If you’re a couple and really wanting some dessert, get some gelato to go with your baba. Now that’s a dessert!
Wine From the Slopes of Mt. Vesuvius
Vesuvius has left its mark on more than just Pompeii and Herculaneum. The fertile slopes of the infamous volcano now provide a unique wine that is easily found while in Naples. Not only should you try a couple varieties of the wine but a tasting will give you the real dead. Airbnb and TripAdvisor both offer some tours and tasting on Mt. Vesuvius.
Aperol Spritz To-Go
Not so much a Napoli delight as some of the other things we’ve mentioned, but aperol spritz to-go will liven up your walk through Old Town. All along Spaccanapoli (the long street that splits Naples in half) you’ll find many bars and restaurants offering Aperol Spritz and other cocktails to go! Be sure to grab one as you stroll through the streets of Naples. They’re inexpensive and a fun addition to an already fun evening out in Naples.
Summary of Food You Must Try in Naples, Italy
When we hear people talk about Italy we always hear about Rome and Florence and Milan. Now that we’ve traveled around the country for a month, we have to mention Naples as a must-see city in Italy. It was a special destination in our travels, especially because of the food. We hope you can make it down to Napoli too and have a ball like we did.