What, where and how to eat Neapolitan food
Who thinks that Naples only means pizza has never seen the sea from the Gulf. Savoury as taralli or sweet as sfogliatelle: Neapolitan cuisine offers a hundred different temptations that satisfy every taste. The Italian Eye Magazine proposes a list of foods absolutely to try while in Naples: a sort of handbook for those who want to learn more about the city from a local point of view.
NEAPOLITAN FOOD: FRITTURA
Walking through Naples’ streets has a total different taste with a cuoppo in your hands. For those who don’t know it yet: cuoppo is a wide range of fried preparations served into the traditional paper cone. It contains every kind of fried food: from pasta cresciuta to deep-fried zucchini flowers; from potato croquettes to fried mozzarella. It has to be eaten warm. And you have to take it from one of the many friggitorie in Spaccanapoli (the street that divides the city in two halves). However, you need to go to via dei Tribunali 94 to find the hidden gem. Here, behind the long line of people waiting to get in, there’s the take away service of Antica Pizzeria e Friggitoria Di Matteo. With the well-known frittatina di pasta. You cannot leave the city without trying it.
NEAPOLITAN FOOD: ZEPPOLA
Traditionally served on Saint Joseph’s Day on March 19th, the zeppola is now part of the Neapolitan culinary tradition. And consequently consumed all year long. This sweet treat decorated with custard and sour cherries is a temptation you cannot resist. Either baked or fried. One of the best zeppole in Naples is on the Vomero Hill. Precisely at Bar Corvino ran by the Citarellas at via Pigna 167/E. For those who just can’t get enough, an extra-large version is available in every Leopoldo’s shops. Among them, we will just name the historical location at via Foria 262.
NEAPOLITAN FOOD: MOZZARELLA DI BUFALA CAMPANA
It can seem weird to put something so common and easily purchasable as mozzarella in a list of typical local foods, but you need to try the real mozzarella di bufala campana to understand the reason. Ideally, it should be consumed within 2 hours from the production, which is quite hard outside Campania borders. In Naples, we suggest two of the most famous addresses: Minicaseificio Costanzo at via Lepanto 118 and Antica Latteria dei Fratelli Papaccioli at via San Pasquale a Chiaia 20. For those who have the chance to move outside Naples, the whole area around Salerno and Caserta is worth a visit for its many local cheese factories. In Capaccio, for example, there is Tenuta Vannulo, where the staff escorts you in an itinerary through all the phases of the production, from the stables to the dish, ending with a complete tasting of all their dairy products.
NEAPOLITAN FOOD: SFOGLIATELLA
In front of the windows of every bakery in Naples, people struggle every day to choose between riccia and frolla. Same filling, but different dough outside: crisp layers for the first, smooth shortcrust for the second. Born by chance in a cloistered convent of the Amalfi Coast, the sfogliatella gets its fame in Naples thanks to Pasquale Pintauro who slightly modified the original recipe and started selling this new pastry in his still existing shop at via Toledo 275. Since then, everyone else has perfected Piantauro’s recipe and nowadays we can taste the results of decades of work in all the bakeries of the city. Two of them deserve to be mentioned since they are true institutions among locals: Attanasio at via della Ferrovia 1-4 and Carraturo at via Casanova 97.
NEAPOLITAN FOOD: PASTA
Walking through the streets of the historical centre of Naples, you will be fascinated by the different smells of ragù or Genovese coming from the open windows of this or that building. If you don’t have the chance to get an invitation to one of these tables, you can always go to Nennella in the Spanish Quarters. In vico Lungo Teatro Nuovo 103, in the heart of Naples, you will find a simple atmosphere and a very warm welcome. A lunch in this restaurant, loved by locals as well as tourists, is both a culinary and human experience. Usually there is a quite long line to get in, but their pasta with potatoes and provola is worth the waiting.
NEAPOLITAN FOOD: BABÀ
Though profoundly bound to the city of Naples, the babà was born in Poland. From an idea of the king Stanislao Leszczynsky and the experience of French cook Nicolas Stohrer. It came to Naples in the 19th century with some French cooks working for Neapolitan noble families. Since then, this rum-soaked dessert has somehow found a new home in Naples. And today we can taste it plain or filled with fruit, cream or custard in every café and bakery of the city. A rich selection can be found at Mary’s at the entrance of the Umberto I Gallery from via Toledo. Or at Leone’s at via Riviera di Chiaia 61.
NEAPOLITAN FOOD: TARALLI
As often happens in food history, the origins of taralli is lost in legend. Some say that it comes from the rests of bread dough that, enriched with sugna (pork fat), pepper and almonds, would give what we all know as taralli napoletani. They’re the best thing ever to eat while drinking a cocktail. Even better if you’re doing that in one of the many chalet on the Mergellina promenade facing the sea. As an alternative, you can go to the famous Tarallificio da Poppella at via Arena della Sanità 148 or to the historical Panificio Rescigno at via di Niso 29.
NEAPOLITAN FOOD: PIZZA
So simple yet so tasty, pizza is the real star of Neapolitan cuisine. In order to say that you lived as a local, you need to fold it in four and eat it with your hands walking in the street. That’s what Neapolitans call “pizza a libretto”. If you’d rather have the comfort of a table and a chair, you can always go to the historical Pizzeria Da Michele at via Cesare Sersale 1. Or to the more famous Gino Sorbillo at via dei Tribunali 32. You cannot forget to try the fried pizza: first example of Neapolitan street food. Everyone knows it thanks to Sophia Loren in the movie The Gold of Naples by Vittorio de Sica. The essential addresses for this delicacy are Zia Esterina Sorbillo at piazza Trieste e Trento 53. And Antica Friggitoria Masardona at via G. Cesare Capaccio 27.
NEAPOLITAN FOOD: CHOCOLATE
Naples has something for every taste. Here, even if it is not something historically typical from the region, you can find some really good places for chocolate lovers. First thing to try is the Ministeriale by Scaturchio (piazza San Domenico Maggiore 19), a chocolate medallion stuffed with a soft liquor and ricotta cream. The confection, whose recipe is a secret since 1905, owes his name to the long bureaucratic procedure faced by the family in order to become Royal warrant of appointment. For any other desire, you can head to the historical Gay-Odin chocolate factory at via Vetriera 12, a real temple of hand-made chocolate since 1894.
NEAPOLITAN FOOD: COFFEE
Our itinerary through the wonders of Neapolitan cuisine could only finish with a good cup of coffee. Any bar you go, you’ll always find a good espresso. Among the bars: the well-known Caffé del Professore at Piazza Trieste e Trento 46 deserves a special mention. But in Naples coffee is not just a matter of roasting and blends. There’s something more: having a coffee with someone is the good excuse to take a break from studying or work. It’s a bonding moment that becomes ritual: a true philosophy of life.