It is often called the birthplace of pizza, and in 2017 UNESCO declared the Neapolitan art of pizza-making a piece of intangible cultural heritage! Pizza and pasta are iconic staples of Italian cuisine, but Naples' location means it is also known for its incredible seafood as well as delicious fruit and vegetables grown in the volcanic soils around Vesuvius.
For an idea of traditional Italian menus, there may be up to five courses: antipasti (meats, cheeses, olives etc) comes before the meal; primo is a starter, usually of pasta, soup or risotto; the secondo or main course of meat or fish, served with side dishes (contorni); and then the dessert or dolce. Lunch is eaten around 1 pm, with dinner after 8 pm, and eateries are usually closed in between. Ask for il conto (the bill) at the end of your meal!
Treat your tastebuds to some of the city's local specialities:
What to eat?
- Pizza: true Naples pizza has to be cooked to exact specifications according to the True Neapolitan Pizza Association! Hand-shaped and cooked in a wood-fire oven, it's sure to be mouth-watering whether you choose the simple pizza marinara (like a margarita but without the cheese), the popular margarita, or the locals' favourite: a pizza fritta (deep-fried, like a calzone!).
- Pasta: from the rich and hearty ragu neapoletano (slow-cooked tomato, onion and meat), to the simply prepared spaghetti a la puttanesca (tomato, black olives, capers and anchovies), or a fresh and delicious spaghetti alle vongole (clams, garlic, red chilli pepper and parsley), don't leave Naples without indulging in some authentic Italian pasta!
- Seafood: try it as part of your pasta dish or order a fresh plate of seppia alla griglia (grilled cuttlefish) or polpi alla luciana (an octopus dish typical of the seafront Santa Lucia district) to make the most of Naples' coastline!
- Sweet treats: it's not all savoury in Naples! Indulge your sweet tooth like a local with babá, a rum-soaked sponge cake; sfogliatella, pastry filled with cinnamon-spiced ricotta; and ricotta and candied fruit filled pastiera! And of course, don't forget the delicious strong Neapolitan coffee to wash it all down.
- Limoncello: OK, so it's a drink not a food, but the iconic lemon-based liqueur originates from Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Give it a taste!
Where to eat?
Naples has tasty food to offer all budgets, whether you're splashing out on a fancy restaurant or heading to a local trattoria for good cheap food!
For seafood and fish, head down to the seafront: Via Partenope has plenty of restaurants, as does the charming but slightly pricier Borgo Marinari, located behind the Castel dell'Ovo.
Go in search of the best pizza around Via dei Tribunali and Spaccanapoli, the two main thoroughfares in Naples' historic centre. While you'll find any number of lists online proclaiming they've found the city's number one pizza, we think you'll find mouth-watering treats without queueing for them!