One of the best parts of traveling is getting to experience the local food. And Italy has some of the best! Each region has its own cuisine, from the pesto in Liguria, to wild boar in Tuscany, to the fish and pizza of Naples. Traveling throughout these regions is almost like traveling throughout different countries in terms of food. And it is very hard to find specific regional cuisines within the other regions. All of Italy has delicious food, but we found some of the best food in Naples!
Neapolitan food consists of a lot of seafood, fish, fresh vegetables, and light sauces, with a lot of pasta to go with it! And of course, you can’t beat true Neapolitan pizza.
What to Expect from an Italian Dinner
There is so much to discover about Neapolitan food — including the different courses of an Italian meal, which is pretty standard throughout the country. There are five courses to a typical Italian meal:
1. Antipasto (appetizer)
2. Primi (1st course, usually consisting of pasta)
3. Secondi (2nd course, usually consisting of meat or fish)
4. Contorno (vegetable that usually accompanies dinner)
5. Dolce (dessert)
We really try to keep up with all of the courses, but we typically share the secondi course or don’t order one at all. The antipasto could be a meal on its own!!
Dinner lasts for at least two hours (no wonder, with all of the courses!) If you go out before 8:30 for dinner, you will be the only ones in the restaurant for a while. During the summer, some restaurants don’t even open for dinner until 9pm! It’s tough to get used to that custom!
Traditional Pizza Margherita in Naples
A specialty in Naples is pizza. Modern pizza originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato. In 1889, during a visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Italy was served a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella), and green (basil). This kind of pizza has been named after the Queen as Pizza Margherita, which is the pizza to get while you’re in Naples.
Why is this pizza so special? One, the dough! The dough is soft and chewy and almost melts in your mouth. It is never hard or crusty. Two, they use Buffalo Mozzarella. This is a creamy and wet cheese that can only be found in the Campania region of Italy. It makes the pizza very moist and gooey! Combine those two together and you are left with a delicious pie that you can’t even pick up… you have to eat it with a knife and fork.
No trip to Naples is complete without going to the world famous Pizzeria da Michele, where Julia Roberts ate in the movie Eat, Pray, Love. Equally as good is Pizzeria Pellone, which is really convenient right near the train station. Either way, eating pizza in Naples is truly one of the best experiences you can have!
Wonderful Surprise while Dining In Naples
One of our first dining experiences in Naples is still one of our favorites. If you didn’t know this restaurant was here you would never be able to find it. It’s more of a hidden local restaurant filled solely with Neapolitans.
As we were driving to the restaurant, we got the impression that we were entering someone’s backyard. Soon we realized that the owners had closed the restaurant for the month. (Fun fact: Italians typically take off most, if not all, of the month of August for vacation.) No problemo! We just happened to stumble upon a different place a very short distance away.
Nobody spoke English, but we somehow got by with our limited Italian after just moving there. The owner, Eduardo, asked us if we wanted to start out with some prosciutto and mozzarella so we said yes. That was the last time we spoke with him until the end of the meal.
The plates of food that came out were never ending… there were mussels, fried anchovies, fried doughballs (zeppelinis), eggplant, baked clams, bruschetta, octopus, and squid. We couldn’t stop laughing as more Italian food kept coming out. After about an hour, we thought the meal was finished. But, Eduardo came back and asked if we wanted to see the menu for the first course! We had to pass, as we were pretty full!
With wine and water, we were wondering how much this was going to cost us. Surprisingly, it was 35 euros! What? The wine itself was just five euros. It was simply an awesome and great experience. Finding this place was a complete surprise, and the meal was unforgettable.
Our favorite restaurant in the Naples area is Angeli & Demoni located in Pozzuoli. We frequented this restaurant often and returned to it on our recent trip to Pozzuoli. Chef Silvio is a master chef, creating dishes that are not only delicious, but aesthetically pleasing. His vision for his restaurant, which is set in a real Roman Domus, is innovative, romantic, and welcoming. Here we had fresh seafood with linguini, an octopus appetizer that my 8 year old loved, a light ravioli with mushrooms, and the most amazing light and airy bread that melted in our mouths. It is Naples food with an elegant twist. It is by far an amazing experience and we’re grateful that we were able to return to it!
More Than Just the Food…
While living here and friends were visiting, we took them into Naples’ center for a downtown food tour. Here, we tried many of the local specialities including tripe, fried anchovies, and traditional zeppelini. Led by a local, it allowed us to eat the foods we had come to love, while also trying new places and foods that we might not have found on our own. It was absolutely amazing – a complete masterpiece of food and flavor!
As we quickly learned, dining in Naples (and in Italy overall!) is not just about the taste of the food, but the experience as well!