We’ve spent years traveling to Italy and learning about Italian food. It took us longer than expected, though, to reach Naples. We did tons of research to create this Naples Pizza Guide. I share what we learned about the history of pizza and how to find the best pizza in Naples Italy.
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Preparing To Eat A Lot Of Pizza In Naples
When researching our trip to visit Naples, all I could think about was pizza. People tell legends about authentic Napoli pizza. Everyone knows it is one of the best things to eat in Naples.
People say they have the best pizza in Italy. Some say they have the best pizza in the world. Could it be that Naples pizza could be all that?
We ate a lot of pizzas during our stay in Naples to find out the answer to just that question. I was “force-feeding” Eric three pizzas a day on some days. All in the name of research, right?
The main point of this guide is to share our Italy travel advice on where to find the best pizza in Naples Italy.
After our specific pizza shop recommendations, though, you will find more information on the history of pizza and how to order it. After all, Naples is one of the best cities in Italy for food, so it’s the perfect place to learn.
Want to learn more about food and pizza in Italy? Check out our recommendations for the Best Food Tours In Naples.
Our Personal Pizza History – From New Jersey To Rome
Growing up in New Jersey and having lived in Chicago for years, the “what is pizza” debate is close to my heart. I grew up on New York-style thin-crust pizza, which I have always said is the “best pizza.” I understand, though, that this distinction lies in the tastebuds of the eater.
For me, it’s comfort food. It’s what I ate as a child, as a teenager, and during many drunken nights in college.
When we moved to Chicago, I just could never get on board with Chicago pizza, which includes not only deep-dish pizza but also a strange hybrid with a cracker crust.
When we first visited Rome, Florence, and Venice in 2000, I quickly became addicted to real “Italy pizza.” But as I started to learn more about Italian food, I now understand that all Italian cuisine is regional.
Pizza is no different. The pizza eaten in Naples is different than the pizza eaten in Sicily and is definitely different than pizza in the North.
This is why we focused on Naples during our stay in the south of Italy. To learn about Neapolitan-style pizza.
Best Pizza In Naples Italy
I give the full down and dirty on everything you need to know about Napoli pizza below. But if you want an easy-to-follow list, use the below to track your pizza eating in Naples.
|Naples Pizza Place||Address||Notes|
|🍕 Pizzeria da Michele Naples||Via Cesare Sersale 1 in Centro Storico||Eat, Pray, Love pizza place, but not our favorite, get there early|
|🍕 Pizzeria Trianon Da Ciro Naples||Via Pietro Colletta 44-46 in Centro Storico||You can take a pizza to go and eat at the bar across the street|
|🍕 Gino e Toto Sorbillo Pizzeria Naples||Via Tribunale 32 on Via Tribunale||Avoid the house wine, try the beer instead; so busy there's an electronic ticketing system|
|🍕 Pizzeria Di Matteo Naples||Via dei Tribunali 94 on Via Tribunale||Bill Clinton's pizza; does a takeaway folded pizza|
|🍕 Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente||Via dei Tribunali, 120-121||Try the pizza fritta; aggressive staff|
|🍕 Pizzeria Brandi Naples||Via Salita S. Anna di Palazzo In Chiaia And West||Good option for pizza on Sunday|
|🍕 Da Zia Esterina Sorbillo||Via Toledo 266 In Chiaia And West||Almost always open, known for the pizza fritta|
|🍕 50 Kalo di Ciro Salvo Naples||Piazza Sannazaro, 201 In Chiaia And West||One of our favorites and worth the walk|
|🍕 Pizzeria Starita||Via Materdei, 27/28 in Materdei||Try the Montanara Starita deep-fried pizza|
Or, learn to make pizza at home with this recipe for apple brie pizza. It might not be traditionally Italian, but it’s oh so tasty.
Planning a Naples pizza trip? Get our packing list for Italy.
Naples Pizza Guide – Searching For The Best Pizza in Naples Italy
As much as we are not Naples locals, we spent close to a week in the area. I say this because I did A LOT of research before arrival.
Some articles I read on Napoli-style pizza were from people who visited Naples on a day trip or an overnight trip.
This happens because many travelers overlook Naples in favor of more popular and scenic nearby destinations, like the Amalfi Coast or Sorrento.
For food travelers, though, Naples is THE destination. I felt that, as an author of a gastronomy guide to a region in Italy, I owed it to Naples to do the research.
We’ve been traveling together to Italy since 2000, that’s almost two decades of Italian food experience. That said, we never visited Naples or anywhere that far south in Italy.
When we planned our trip, though, I knew I only wanted to focus on Naples. Yes, the coastal towns are gorgeous, but I wanted to go to the home of pizza.
In this Naples pizza blog post, we will share everything I could find on a Neapolitan pizza, its history, and how to track down the perfect pie in Naples.
I will also offer some commentary from a girl who grew up on New York-style pizza on whether Naples pizza is all that. Get ready for a little controversy.
Taking A Food Tour In Naples
People often ask us how we find great food in a city we’ve never visited. In addition to doing our own research and asking friends, we always take a food tour. Not only will you learn what to eat and where, but food tours are also a great way to learn your way around a city.
There are lots of great food tours in Naples and choosing the right one is tricky. We are big fans of Devour Tours. Devour Tours does a great job of explaining the food and drink in a city.
They have the local knowledge to discover off-the-beaten-path bars and restaurants only locals go to. Over the past decade, we’ve easily been on a dozen Devour food tours across Spain, Portugal, and Italy.
In Naples, Devour Tours offers a mix of food tours and sightseeing tours. Tour prices range from $70 to $130 per person. Most of Devour’s tours max out at 12 guests making it a more enjoyable experience. Here are the food tours Devour currently offers in Naples.
Where To Find the Best Pizza In Naples Italy
I know people want this ultimate food traveler question answered, so I start with the where. After our list of recommended pizza shops, I answer the questions of why, what, and how!
What are the best places to eat in Naples for pizza? If short on time, head straight to Via Tribunali, which starts just west of the Naples train station.
This is where some of the most well-known Napoli pizzerias are located. This works well for people doing Naples in a day.
For a little more direction, we tried to organize our Naples pizza recommendations, starting with some of the most popular, most historical, and must-visit pizzerias.
Then, we include a few that are a little farther afield, perhaps a little less well-known, for people who are spending more than a few days visiting Naples.
Best Neighborhoods For Pizza
I’ve organized our list of the best pizza places in Naples mostly by neighborhood. This helps organize your trip based on where you are staying.
It also can help if you try to do the insane pizza crawl like we did several days, where we ate multiple pizzas within a few hours. All much to the detriment of our waistlines. But worth it!
These are the Naples neighborhoods we focused on. The Centro Storico is the historical center of Naples and runs down to the water.
Via Tribunali is at the north edge of Centro Storico. At the west end of Centro Storico is Via Toledo and Chiaia, the more ritzy part of Naples. We also make one recommendation in Materdei, to the north.
I offer opening hours, but the information is always spotty in Italy, so take these times with a grain of salt. Also, plan ahead.
Many of the pizzerias close on Sunday or close in the middle of the day. Try to prioritize the ones you can visit on a Sunday if need be and save the others for the rest of the week.
Pro Tip for Eating Pizza in Naples
Get there early! I’ve never arrived at so many restaurants before opening as I did in Naples. We skipped breakfast each morning and then made our way to the day’s most important pizzerias to get there 30 minutes before opening, just in case. If there are one or two places you want to make sure to visit, get there early!
Pizza In Centro Storico
L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele Napoli
L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele Napoli is known by many travelers as the “Eat Pray Love Pizza in Naples,” this is one of the more touristy pizzerias in Naples.
Yes, when we dined at da Michele, we sat a few feet from the famous photo of Julia Roberts eating there.
Their menu is the simplest pizza menu we have seen. They only offer two pizza options, Margherita and Marinara Pizza.
They offer a normal size and a medium. We ordered normal and it was big. Pizza prices range from €4-5 a pie.
The da Michele pizza was fine but not great. It had a smokier flavor from the charcoaled sections of the crust. The sauce was not as flavorful as others we tried.
They drizzled a lot of oil on the pizza as well, making it way too liquidy, even more than the normal soupy feel due to fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.
Is it the best pizza in Napoli? I don’t think I am alone in saying it was my least favorite pizza in Naples. Many people say their quality has gone down since the Eat Pray Love fame.
Pizzeria da Michele Naples, Via Cesare Sersale 1. They are open 11 am – 11 pm six days a week. They are closed on Sunday.
We arrived at 10:40 am and were not alone. There are rumors that people wait 60-90 minutes for a pizza at da Michele.
Pizzeria Trianon Da Ciro
Almost across the street from da Michele is another Neapolitan pizza institution, Trianon Pizza Naples. I enjoyed the pizza more at Trianon than at da Michele. Only hours separated the two experiences.
The sauce had a little more tang, the crust was softer, and the cheese was more flavorful. The pizza was not as soupy or overrun with oil either.
The menu offers a variety of pizza toppings, and I felt I was surrounded by Italians rather than tourists (though they get a good amount of the latter as well).
We ordered the sausage pizza, and the sausage was of high quality, still encased, and very flavorful.
Pizzeria Trianon Da Ciro Naples, Via Pietro Colletta 44-46. They are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week but close at mid-day. Pizzas range from €4-8.
Naples Pizza Pro Tip
We arrived 20 minutes before Pizzeria da Michele opened and there was already a line. Many people report waiting 90 minutes or more. I would have been less than thrilled waiting that long with the quality of the pie.
Many people were ordering take-away pizza and enjoying it at one of the bars across the way with a bottle of wine or an Aperol Spritz.
I would recommend getting one pizza to share when they open. Sit down, and enjoy a coffee or a drink afterwards. Then visit Trianon for a pie to compare. Yes, this is a lot of pizza in a short amount of time, but when in Naples….eat pizza!
Pizza on Via Tribunale
There is no shortage of places to eat and drink along Via Tribunale, one of the more touristy feeling parts of the city. From €1 glasses of Aperol Spritz for takeaway to all sorts of fried foods wrapped in paper, it’s the place to hang out for an afternoon or an evening in Naples.
We tried three different pizza places in one visit, with a few stops along the way at a wine bar and a few coffees while we desperately tried to make room in our bellies.
Gino e Toto Sorbillo Pizzeria Naples
Easily one of the most famous places in Italy to eat in pizza, Gino e Toto Sorbillo has won numerous recognitions. The restaurant feels a little more modern, which relates in part to his attempt to elevate pizza-making into a well-respected cuisine, and not merely a street food.
He’s also garnered respect locally for attempting to take on the local mafioso, who reportedly burned down his shop a few years ago. He rebuilt with pride.
As for the pizza? Good, but not our favorite. The crust was moister than the others we ate, almost having the consistency of a moist crepe.
The sauce was nice, though, with good acidity and tang. Gino is a little bit of a pizza czar, with locations in Milan, London, and New York.
Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo Naples Italy, Via Tribunale 32. Sorbillo is open for lunch and dinner six days a week. They are closed on Sunday.
I went for classic Margherita DOP and Eric went for the Diavola, which was spicy and packed a punch. We ordered the house wine, which I would avoid. Drink beer instead. Pizza prices ranged from €4-8.
Naples Pizza Pro Tip
Get there early! We arrived at Gino e Toto Sorbillo about 40 minutes before opening at noon. When we emerged less than an hour after opening, the street outside was packed and there was an electronic board with a numbered waiting system.
And, this was a Tuesday. That said, the pizzas started to emerge from the kitchen quicker than those at da Michele. They have a much larger pizza menu too.
Pizzeria Di Matteo Naples
Care to eat where Bill Clinton did during his visit to Naples in the 1990s? Then try Pizzeria Di Matteo Naples. A classic Naples pizza joint like no other. Order straight from the window and eat your pizza street side, or sit inside at a table.
The Di Matteo Pizza from the window is traditional and cheap, at less than €2. We tried the takeaway pizza, an Italian folded pizza known as pizza portafoglio.
It was a good snack for €1.50 but was not our favorite. We can’t speak to the full sit-down pizza experience. This was a day when I forced Eric to eat at three pizzerias in a day. He was a trooper.
Antica Pizzeria e Friggitoria Di Matteo Pizza Naples, Via dei Tribunali 94. They are open from 9:30 am until midnight six days a week. They are closed on Sunday.
Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente
Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente is also well-known and talked about everywhere. Started by the brother of the pizza maker behind Di Matteo he named his pizzeria after Bill Clinton.
The two shops are just down the road from each other. The interior reminded me of a cheesy New Jersey-style pizza shop, which made me feel at home.
Although del Presidente also offers fried treats and street pizza, we stopped in for the full experience. We tried their marinara pizza, which had a nice tang to it and felt lighter. It was a good palate cleanser as our fourth pizza of the day!
The guy sitting next to us ordered the pizza fritta, which was big and airy. I wished we had room to have ordered that too. They offer a full selection of fried starters as well. We tried the frittatine, which is deep-fried pasta and cheese.
Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente Naples, Via dei Tribunali, 120-121. They are open all day, every day. My only complaint was that our server was a little rude at the end.
He not only asked for a tip but stood between me and the door until I gave him a tip. This made the experience off-putting and feel a lot more touristy than a local Naples pizzeria.
Other Centro Storico Pizzerias
I should also note that several people recommended Antica Pizzeria Port-Alba, not far from Via Tribunale, particularly because it is reported to be the oldest pizzeria in Naples. They were under renovation when we visited, so we can’t recommend it one way or the other.
Naples Pizzerias In Chiaia And West
Via Toledo is the main shopping boulevard that cuts Naples in half. It ends at the Royal Palace, near the water.
It’s like the Times Square of Naples, with loads of places to eat and shop. Be wary of pickpockets there. Watch your bags and enjoy.
Towards the end of Via Toledo is Via Chiaia, a continuation of the shopping street towards the west and into the Chiaia neighborhood.
Chiaia is fancy, with high-end shops and a lot less graffiti. It runs parallel to the Gulf of Naples.
Pizzeria Brandi Naples
Pizzeria Brandi is the successor pizzeria to the one that invented the Pizza Margherita. It was our first stop, on a Sunday. We were starved after driving over three hours from Matera in Basilicata.
Now, I don’t know if it was because it was our first pizza in Naples, or I was starving, but this was one of the better pizzas we ate.
The crust was soft but not too moist. The sauce was tangy and fresh. The basil was fragrant. It was a great version of the classic Pizza Margherita.
Pizzeria Brandi Naples Italy, Via Salita S. Anna di Palazzo, just off the Via Chiaia pedestrian road. They are open for lunch and dinner six days a week. Pizzeria Brandi is closed on Monday.
They are a good option for eating pizza in Naples on a Sunday. They told us to expect about a 40-minute wait. But we hung around and were seated in 20 minutes. Pizzas are a little more expensive, ranging from €7-12.
Da Zia Esterina Sorbillo
Just around the corner and a block north of Via Chiaia is Da Zia Esterina Sorbillo, owned by Gino Sorbillo of local pizza fame. Presumably, they named the fried pizza places after his aunt (Zia).
Order a pizza at the register. Wait for them to call your number. You can see them stuffing the pizza dough and then deep-frying it until light and crispy.
It’s hot! Take your time eating it or burn your tongue. It makes a good afternoon or late-night Italian snack more than a meal.
Da Zia Esterina Sorbillo, Via Toledo 266. I am not sure about their hours, but we never saw them closed. Their pizza fritta is €3.50 and comes in a few different varieties.
They also have a few other locations, including one on Via Tribunali. Not a traditional pizzeria, but just plain fun.
50 Kalo di Ciro Salvo Naples
One of a handful of well-regarded, more contemporary Naples pizzerias. We walked about 30 minutes to get to 50 Kalo di Ciro Salvo Naples, arriving before it opened, and were very happy with our walk.
This was one of the best pizzas we ate in Naples. We started with a few fried starters, including one of the best frittatina we ate, a deep-fried ball of pasta and cheese.
The pizzas at 50 Kalo were definitely more creative. Eric ordered a lasagna pizza, which they made with a meat ragu instead of the traditional tomato sauce.
I ordered a Diavola, which is a traditional pizza with sausage and spicy peppers.
In this case, the pizza had burrata, an even softer white cheese than mozzarella. I think they added the cheese on after baking, which would probably be a no-no for the pizza association.
But, I didn’t care. It was incredible. The dough itself was soft and less moist, but still spongy and tender.
50 Kalo di Ciro Salvo, Piazza Sannazaro, 201, about a 30-minute walk along the water promenade on the other side of Chiaia.
They are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Pizza prices ranged from €5-9. They don’t take reservations. Worth the walk!
Pizza in Materdei
Materdei is a non-touristy neighborhood north of Via Toledo and north of Piazza Dante. There isn’t really too much to bring tourists to the neighborhood, other than seeing what real Naples looks like. We walked all the way up there for one pizzeria, and we weren’t alone.
Pizzeria Starita was the one Naples pizzeria where we didn’t order a classic pizza. Instead, we tried their calzone and their Montanara Starita, a deep-fried pizza dough with toppings added on top. The calzone was good, but the Montanara was something different.
The dough was tender but more firm. For me, this reminded me a little more of the pizza I grew up with because the crust was firmer than the other pizzas we ate in Naples.
The sauce was fresh and the cheese firm. I would definitely recommend Pizzeria Starita, and I would love to go back to try one of their classic pies.
Pizzeria Starita Naples, Via Materdei, 27/28. Open for lunch and dinner six days a week. They are closed on Monday.
One of the more extensive menus we saw, because it offered pizzas, calzones, and other fried starters. Most menu items ranged from €4-12. Starita also has a New York location.
So, What Is The Best Pizza Place in Naples Italy?
It is a little hard for us to judge as we haven’t eaten EVERYWHERE in Naples. That said, we had super high expectations. Whenever people ask who has the best pizza in the world, people always say Naples!
Pizza making in Naples deserves its props, and they are of course the stuff of legends. There was one thing missing though.
When we eat in Emilia Romagna or in Piedmont or elsewhere in the north, we eat loads of dishes where we involuntarily ooh and ahh and yum with every bite.
We were missing that exclamation in Naples. Perhaps because our expectations were too high. Is this the top pizza in the world? It’s a good question.
That said, we ate very good pizza in Naples. Even if we didn’t eat many pizzas that ended with involuntary yums. In our opinion, the best pizza restaurant in Naples was probably 50 Kalo or Starita or Trianon.
If short on time these should be on the top of your Italian pizza list, even though they are each on the far side of Naples from each other.
What Is The History Of Pizza
Just in case food travelers wanted a little more information than just the where to eat pizza in Naples. Here we share the history of pizza and tips on making the most of any pizza crawl in Naples.
I once met a Chicagoan who was adamant that Chicago invented pizza. I could not believe my ears. That said, the history of pizza is a little more complicated than I expected. Italians have been topping flatbreads with various local ingredients for hundreds of years.
History Of Naples Pizza
In Naples, the working poor ate these flatbread pizzas, many of whom worked on or near the waterfront. The wealthier people of Naples looked down on this type of quick eating.
Some of the oldest pizzerias in Naples date to the 1700s and they sold these quick foods.
Through the 18th and 19th centuries, pizza was really just a local thing to eat in Naples. Pizza had not spread to the rest of Italy. It took immigrants from Naples in American cities in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries to make pizza the international phenomenon it now is.
The first documented pizza maker in the US is Lombardi’s in Manhattan, dating to 1905. Some of the earliest pizzerias in New York and even Connecticut prepared pizza similar in style to Naples. With obvious differences – like selling pizza by the slice for workers to eat during lunch.
It wasn’t until after World War II that pizza really took the world by storm. But, Neapolitans are credited as being the fathers of pizza. Perhaps the Americans just helped market it.
An Association For Naples Style Pizza
One of the things I love about Italy is the focus on traditional dishes made with fresh, local, quality ingredients.
Most of the time this means searching for DOP and IGP products, which are regulated by the Italian government and the European Union to ensure strict quality guidelines are met.
I was not surprised to know that there is some regulation around pizza too. In fact, there is a Naples pizza “association.” This is the association that regulates how to make Neapolitan pizza.
The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, regulates the pizza industry, not only in Naples but worldwide. They provide certification to pizzerias everywhere that want to be certified as Napoli genuine pizza (or Pizza Napoletana STG).
The criteria for receiving the certificate are scientific and intense, with regulations on the pizza dough (even regulating its pH), its ingredients, the taste, and its preparation.
This includes directing the type of yeast that can be used.
The regulations direct that flour must be added slowly to a mixture of water, yeast, and salt, all blended just right.
This dough then must be topped with only a few varieties of DOP tomatoes and DOP or IGP mozzarella. There are also restrictions on the oven and the heating.
What Is Authentic Neapolitan Pizza
A Naples pizza oven is a wood-burning oven, with a traditional dome shape. The ovens have retained the same shape, dimensions, and structure for hundreds of years.
There is no restriction on the type of wood used, but generally, it tends to be oak, ash, or maple.
The oven is heated to around 900F (485C). That’s hot considering most ovens at home max out at 450F. Each pizza is cooked for between 90 seconds and two minutes.
It is between 30-35 cm in diameter, with a raised edge, and must be soft and elastic. But, it really comes down to the ingredients.
The Pizza Dough
So what makes an authentic Naples style pizza? It starts with the dough, which is a mix of water, salt, yeast, and type 0 or type 00 flour.
The dough goes through two leavening processes, which total eight hours. The dough must be pressed by hand. They don’t allow machines or rolling pins.
Cheese And Tomatoes
As for condiments, all ingredients must come from Campania, the region where Naples is located. There are several types of local tomatoes that are allowed, along with extra virgin olive oil, and either mozzarella or fior di latte cheese.
Fior di latte is a soft white cheese that is similar to mozzarella. Generally, fior di latte is made with cow’s milk and buffalo mozzarella is made with buffalo’s milk.
Menus will list which cheese is used on each pie. Many Naples pizza menus also list that they use San Marzano DOP tomatoes, meaning they are certified by the government.
Other fresh or canned tomatoes are also permitted. They can also use fresh basil and oregano. That’s it. Obviously, pizzerias in Naples have gone beyond this in recent years.
What Is Italian Margherita Pizza?
Many travelers who think of Italian pizza think of the Neapolitan Margherita pizza. It’s the pizza that, in my opinion, highlights the quality of Napoli pizza ingredients.
Let’s start with the basics. The two most basic pizza styles in Naples are the Pizza Marinara and the world-famous Pizza Margherita (not pizza margarita – that’s a cocktail).
Pizza Marinara includes tomatoes, oregano, olive oil, and garlic. Pizza Margherita includes tomatoes, olive oil, buffalo mozzarella, and basil. These are the only two pizza varieties approved by the Naples Pizza Association.
Where did the Margherita pizza get its name? In 1861, Italy unified. Shortly after the King and Queen of Italy toured the country. Mostly, they were fed French haute cuisine, as was the style at the time.
They visited Da Pietro pizzeria, which was founded in 1760. At Da Pietro, they asked for an assortment of pizzas. The one they liked the most was topped with mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and basil, which formed the colors of the Italian flag.
From that day on, the pizza was called Pizza Margherita, after the Queen of Italy. Pizzeria Brandi, which we visited, is the successor to Da Pietro. There is a plaque outside commemorating this event.
What’s On A Napoli Pizza Menu
At a few pizza places in Naples, you will only see Marinara and Margherita pizzas. But over the recent years, the menus are starting to expand to include various pizza varieties, including various toppings.
The pizza descriptions will say whether they are made with fior di latte cheese or mozzarella cheese. If they use Buffalo Mozzarella DOP, this will also be listed on the menu.
In addition to pizza, some pizzerias offer a variety of starters focusing on fried foods. They seemingly deep-fry everything! Some pizzerias also offer calzones, which use the same dough filled with various different ingredients.
Some consider this Italian folded pizza, but in Naples, there is another type of folded pizza that is not a calzone.
It’s called pizza portafoglio, or portfolio pizza (see the pizza photo below). This is a full pizza served on paper, which is then folded in fours to make for easier eating.
There is also the famous fried pizza in Naples, which is exactly like it sounds – deep-fried pizza, stuffed with sauce and cheese. It’s called pizza fritta.
This is why it was so hard for us to eat as many pizzas as we did and as I wanted to. We tried to eat a Pizza Margherita at each place we visited, but we also tried fried pizza, pizza portafoglio, and calzones. I swear I came out five pounds heavier with a full pizza bambino around my waist.
Naples Pizza Menu Guide – Here are the most common types of pizza you will see in Naples:
- Pizza Marinara: Pizza with tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and oregano – no cheese!
- Pizza Margherita: Pizza tomatoes, olive oil, cheese, and basil. Can include fior di latte, mozzarella, or mozzarella buffalo DOP
- Pizza Fritta: Deep-fried pizza, stuffed with tomatoes, cheese, and other toppings
- Pizza Portafoglio: A street pizza placed on paper and folded
- Pizza Montanara: A deep-fried pizza dough, with toppings. The entire pizza is not deep-fried like the pizza fritta.
- Calzone: A pizza dough, folded with toppings inside, and baked
How Do Italians Eat Pizza?
This is something I’ve always struggled with during our years of traveling in Italy, how to eat pizza in Italy. Growing up in New Jersey, with pizza-by-the-slice joints, I always ate pizza with my hands.
I remember that epic scene in Saturday Night Fever where John Travolta pranced down the street eating two slices, one on top of the other, folded in half. That’s my preferred method.
That’s not necessarily how the Italians eat pizza though.
Do Italians Eat Pizza With Their Hands?
First, at a traditional Naples pizzeria (and through most of Italy as well) the pizza is delivered to the table whole, unsliced. The first time I saw this in Rome my jaw dropped. It made me realize how Americanized Italian cuisine really is.
The most common way to eat pizza in Naples is with a knife and fork. When cutting the pizza yourself, it can be cut into slices or into bite-sized pieces.
Due to the soupy nature of the center of the pizza, it is difficult to eat as a slice with the hands, but it is not impossible. Just messy.
Before traveling to Naples, my research indicated that it is more common to cut a bite at a time. This research was not entirely accurate.
We saw plenty of people eating pizza with their hands. Generally, they would cut the tip of the slice to eat that first, because it is so messy.
Or, they would fold the tip of the slice over and take a quick bite before it drooped. One thing is for sure, though. I’ve never seen people eat an entire pizza as quick as I did in Naples!
The turnover at a pizza restaurant is brisk, and many people order a pie, eat it, and leave. It’s so different from how the rest of Italy eats, with long meals and multiple courses.
In Naples, people also eat their pizza folded, but in a different way to Travolta. This is more common with Naples street food, where pizza is sold from a kiosk or for takeaway from a window.
The pizzeria serves the pizza on a sheet of paper, which is then folded in half twice. It’s common to see people picking at the pizza with their fingers, rather than biting into the pizza whole. This is pure Naples street food.
Culinary Travel To Italy
Our Italy Travel Experience
Our first trip to Italy was in 2000, and since then, we’ve taken dozens of trips to Italy to almost every region. Our most recent trip was in 2022.
This is easier for us as we live in Europe. We’ve taken food tours, cooking classes, visited wineries, and dined at some of the best restaurants in Italy. We are experts at Italy travel and, more importantly, eating in Italy.
Check out Amber’s book, the Food Traveler’s Guide To Emilia Romagna, which is available on Amazon. In addition to being a culinary travel guide to the region, it walks through how many of the typical Italian food products are made, like mortadella, prosciutto, and Parmigiano Reggiano.
FAQs – Eating Pizza In Napoli
But, what does this all mean for the intrepid pizza eater who wants to ensure they are eating the genuine article? Here we answer some questions many pizza eaters have when comparing their pizzas in Naples to those eaten at home.
A Neapolitan pizza crust is often marked with charred spots on the bottom, interspersed with more soft and pale dough in between (see above). This does not mean that it is burnt, but those charred spots will taste a little smokier. This is due to the wood fire and high temperatures and might be different than what you are used to at your local pizzeria.
The center of a Neapolitan pizza will normally have a more liquid, almost soupy center. It’s a mix of the fresh tomato sauce, and the fresh mozzarella, which has a lot of water in it naturally. There is a big difference between using fresh buffalo mozzarella and more dry, commercially produced mozzarella cheese used in the US.
I’ve always been a fan of simplicity in my pizza. When trying a new pizza place, or when traveling, I always choose a Pizza Margherita thinking if they can do that well, then I know I can trust other pizza versions. When choosing toppings, we tend to stick with tradition, like sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto, or maybe mushrooms. Yes, you will find pizza with toppings in Naples, but many Italian pizza places won’t offer pizzas loaded with tons and tons of toppings on the same pie. The focus is on the simplicity of the base ingredients, and most importantly, the dough.