Naples Food Guide – What To Eat In Naples Italy
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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!Traveling to Naples? Check out our Naples Travel Guide - How To Visit Naples Italy
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!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. We will start with some of the tasty pasta dishes, then talk about Naples street foods, followed by pastries and desserts.
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 lasagan 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).
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.
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