Naples Food Guide
We’ve been traveling together to Italy for almost a full two decades. More recently, most of our trips have been to Emilia Romagna and its capital, Bologna. Until recently, we never explored the south. But, we were thrilled to research, and then eat, all of the tasty Naples foods! And, there is more to Naples than pizza.
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How To Visit Naples Italy For Food
Many travelers who visit Naples Italy focus on finding authentic Napoli pizza, and they should It’s the birthplace of pizza. There is so much more to Naples, though than pizza.
In this Naples food guide and blog, we share our tips on what to eat in Naples along with some recommendations on where to eat these dishes. Don’t worry, we will also talk all about Naples pizza too! If you want someone else to manage things, try booking a Naples Food Tour.
What Is Traditional Neapolitan Cuisine
Traditional Neapolitan food focuses on simplicity and using local ingredients. Many of the dishes in the north of Italy, in Emilia Romagna or Piedmont, for example, use more rich ingredients, like heavy cheeses, creams, and truffles.
In Naples and the surrounding region of Campania, classic ingredients are used, like olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes. The food is very tomato heavy, much to Eric’s dislike. He is not a huge fan of tomatoes.
The dishes in Southern Italy also are reminiscent of the Italian dishes I grew up eating in New Jersey. Many of the Italian Americans emigrated from Naples and Sicily. This includes dishes like ragu, lasagna, calzones, and of course pizza!
Heading to Southern Italy? Check out our Puglia Food Guide, with must-eat dishes.Check out the Best Restaurants in Naples Italy - TripAdvisor Napoli Italy
Napoli Food Guide
In this food guide, we focus on the Napoli dishes you must eat when visiting Naples. Yes, we ate all of these dishes, sometimes more than once. It was some tough research, trust us.
Many travelers to Naples only pop in for a day trip or an overnight stay, so it would be difficult to eat all of these dishes. But, hopefully, this will provide a good roadmap to help guide you when reading the menus at Naples Restaurants.
I will start with some of the tasty pasta dishes, then talk about Naples street foods, followed by pastries and desserts.Traveling to Naples? Check out our Naples Travel Guide - How To Visit Naples Italy
Best Pasta in Naples Italy
When we travel to Italy, I often end up eating pizza twice a day. If it were socially acceptable, I would be eating pasta for breakfast too. But our trip to Naples focused on pizza.
We wanted to each as much pizza as we could. This meant we only ate pizza a handful of times during the week. I tried to pick our Napoli pasta dishes strategically, to choose dishes that were very characteristic of Naples and Campania.
Every pasta we ate felt like an Italian grandmother was cooking them for us. And, every Naples restaurant we ate at also seemed like we were eating in a grandmother’s kitchen. There was no romantic mood lighting or ambience. It was all about the food!
Lasagna Al Forno Napoletana
We’ve eaten lasagna a lot when traveling in Bologna. The lasagna in the south is very different, and more like the lasagna we grew up eating. The Napoletana lasagna is normally made with meatballs, tomato sauce, cheese, and slices of hard-boiled egg.
The Bolognese version is made with ragu, the Bolognese meat sauce, and bechamel. In Naples, the sauce is a more traditional tomato sauce and like most of the red sauce we ate in Naples, fresh and tangy.
Spaghetti Alla Vognole
I was thrilled to balance all of our pasta eating with a few seafood dishes, which are popular throughout Campania, being a coastal province. Another nod to the seafood tradition in Campania and something I grew up eating in New Jersey.
It’s also a perfect example of the less is more philosophy of Neapolitan cooking. Pasta, olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, and clams, all fresh, local ingredients.
Pasta Fresca Con Scampi
Eric ordered this seeking a comfort food, but we were surprised how different it was to the scampi we grew up eating. Simply made with olive oil, garlic, and Italian parsley, it tasted super fresh. We were also surprised with the size of the fresh langoustines as well, particularly because this dish only cost €12.
Neapolitan Ragu And Pasta Alla Genovese
Similar to the difference between the lasagna in Bologna and lasagna in Naples, pasta served with ragu in Naples is different. In Northern Italy, Bolognese ragu is made with carrots, celery, and ground meats.
In Campania, the Neapolitan ragu is made with large chunks of meat making the sauce more rich.
It can be a challenge to find ragu on Naples restaurant menus. It’s normally a dish prepared at home, generally on Sundays. But, a series of restaurants in Naples called Tandem have taken ragu mainstream. Despite the silly name, the ragu was tasty, and yes super rich.
An alternative to Neapolitan ragu is a dish that confused me at first. I thought it was more from Genoa than Campania. The difference between the Genovese sauce and ragu is the lack of tomatoes. The Genovese sauce is really a base of meat and onions but is also just as rich.
What Is Authentic Neapolitan Pizza
Of course we have to talk about Napoli style pizza in our guide on what to eat in Naples Italy. There is a Naples pizza “association.” 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).
A Naples pizza oven is a wood-burning oven, with a traditional dome shape. The oven is heated to around 900F (485C). 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.
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. 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. They can also use fresh basil and oregano. That’s it. Obviously, pizzerias in Naples have gone beyond this in recent years. But, these are the basics.
Napoli Street Food – Friggitorie
Naples street food can be described in one word – fried. Whereas much of Italian dining in Italy focuses on long drawn out meals over multiple courses and wine, people in Italy take to the streets.
Street food in Naples focuses on pizza and all things fried. There are all sorts of friggitorie, the name of the shop that hawks of the fried foods. Order a cuppo, a cone of mixed fried foods. Some shops will offer combos “di terra” (from the land) or “di mare” (from the sea).
Crocche di Patate
Some of the things you might see inside of a cuppo can also be ordered separately, often also served in a cone. Crocche di Patate are deep fried potatoe balls.
They reminded me of potato croquetas that we eat in Spain. Sometimes, in Naples, they are filled with pieces of sausage or ham.
A similar story with alici fritte, or fried anchovies, which we eat a lot at home in Spain. That said, these were probably the least common fried items we saw. I was expecting to see them more. Normally, the small fried anchovies are eaten whole, head and all. I tend to remove the head and most of the bone and will leave the tail too.
Mozzarella in Carrozza
At its most simple, mozzarella in carrozza (or in a carriage) like an Italian fried cheese sandwich, but deep-fried. The mozzarella is placed between slices of bread, covered in egg, and then fried. It is more common to find mozzarella in carrozza as a starter at pizzerias than on the street.
Breakfast in Naples Italy
I know it is strange to share breakfast last, but we don’t tend to eat a lot of breakfast when traveling in Italy. A typical Italian breakfast normally doesn’t include much more than coffee and a pastry. But, the pastries in Naples are pretty legendary. Whether you eat them for breakfast, dessert, or a midday snack, try these sweet treats.
Sfogliatella – Riccia
The easiest way to start your day in Naples is by eating a sfogliatella (sfogliatelle is the plural), a clam shaped flaky pastry. There are at least a dozen flaky folds to the pastry. The sfogliatella riccia is filled with creamy ricotta and topped with powdered sugar.
Look for the sfogliatella rossa, which included raspberries and a little sweet cream on the top, which I liked more than the traditional version. The sweet cream softened the crisp folds of the pastry.
Sfogliatella – Frolla
Another version of sfogliatella and the one I preferred is sfogliatella frolla. This one is a soft pastry filled with creamy ricotta and dried candy fruits. They are also topped with powdered sugar, and when warm are pretty tasty. They don’t have all the folds and flakes, so they are easier to eat.
Baba al Rhum
The Baba al Rhum is everywhere in Naples, particularly in the shops along Via Toledo and Via Tribunali. It is a cake in the shape of a champagne cork and then soaked in rum or other liquor, sometimes limoncello. They are found full-sized, mini, as a parfait with cream, or filled with Nutella and other similar sweets.Wondering what to drink in Italy? Check out Our Italian Drinks Guide
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Naples Italy Food Guide – What To Eat In Naples
Naples really was one of the most surprising cities for us to visit in Italy. That’s saying a lot considering we’ve been traveling to Italy for 20 years. I know it is often overlooked, but give it a shot!
If you use Pinterest to help with travel planning, feel free to share this to your favorite food or drink travel board. Mangia Mangia!
FAQs – Naples Food Guide
First and foremost, Naples is famous for pizza. And yes, it’s worth the trip to eat pizza in Naples. Beyond pizza, Naples is also famous for sfogliatelle, struffoli, and friarelli. You’ll also find great gelato, but you can find great gelato all around Italy.
Dinner in Italy and in many other parts of Europe is later than in the US. It’s not uncommon to have dinner between 8 and 10PM. Many restaurants, especially outside of tourist area don’t open before 8PM.
This is up for some debate. Some say lunch others say dinner. Both meals feature multiple courses and can last for a couple of hours. Breakfast is certainly not the biggest meal in Italy. Most Italians will only have a pastry and a coffee for breakfast.