Where to eat AND DRINK
Food in Naples, like all over Italy, is a very serious matter. That's why finding a good restaurant is not that difficult and there's a very wide choice. Naples is famous for its Pizza. And you will soon find out why. Forget about pineapple pizza. The simpler the better. There is actually an association to control its standard. Look for the sign outside any Pizzeria to know you're eating a proper neapolitan pizza. However, it doesn't mean that pizzerias without the sign make horrible pizzas. C'mon, you are in Naples, you can't go wrong!. The most popular pizzerias are from old family traditions and they are mainly in the old part of the city (centro storico). Some of the most famous are Sorbillo, Di Matteo, Trianon, dal Presidente, Starita, Port'Alba, La Notizia, Brandi and Antica Pizzeria da Michele just to mention a few names. First come, first served. So I suggest going there quite early at lunchtime, or early evening as they are very popular and sometimes waiting time can be two hours or more. But trust me, its worth the wait!. You might think that the famous pizzerias must be very expensive!. Wrong!. Going out is very affordable. Pizzas are around 4 to 5€, a little bit more expensive if you are by the promenade.
You don't need to sit down in a pizzeria to have a good pizza, you can also have one on the go. We call it pizza a portafoglio (folded in four like a wallet). This is our street food, but if you have had enough of pizzas you can choose others specialities, like arancini, crocche' (potato croquet), pizza fritta (fried pizza) or the mysterious cuoppo. The cuoppo is a paper cone filled with many fried neapolitan specialities, such as fish and calamari.
Just with few euros you can have a complete full meal! There are many places where you can buy street food, when you see people queuing it's always a good sing!
I can mention some, that are also my favourite, but there are many more all around the city.
Personally, I go often to Passione di Sofi' for its amazing cuoppo or the famous fried pizza at Antica Pizza Fritta from Sorbillo or the take away at Pizzeria di Mattero in Tribunali street.
Very popular are also burgers and sandwiches take away like Puok Burger store, Master grill or Capatoast, in the Vomero area.
Don't panic if you don't like pizza. Neapolitans are not only pizza eaters. Some pizzerias also do other dishes.
There are also good Restaurants and Trattorie which are a bit more expensive than pizzerias. There are many in the old part, like il Gobbetto, Brandi, Ciro a Santa Brigida, Mattozzi or Nennella with traditional neapolitan food. By the promenade, there is i Fratelli la Bufala, and Sorbillo. The area next to the Castle dell'Ovo which is called borgo marinaro, there are historical restaurants like La Bersagliera and Zi Teresa.
In case you have had enough of neapolitan food, there are a few Pubs. Penny Black is one of my favourites. There are two, one is on the promenade and another is in the Vomero area. There are also other good ones like Frank Malone and The Goodfellas. The ambience is inspired by British pubs and they serve food such as hamburgers and fries and serve beers from Britain, Germany and Belgium. They are different to British pubs in that they are all table service. So no ordering at the bar.
If you still have room in your belly, Gelato is what you are looking for!. Yep, gelato not ice cream!. Gelato is not just a simple dessert. It is a morning refreshment, an afternoon snack, or an after dinner delight. You absolutely can't leave Naples without trying the gelato of Casa Infante, Gelato Mennella, Fantasia Gelati or Scimmia Factory. For the sake of this website, I had to try them all. And I can finally say that are all heaven. Trust me, you won't be disappointed! Neapolitans are obsessed with desserts and pastries. Some tasty ones are sfogliatella which come in two types riccia or frolla and rum baba's. Some of the most famous delicatessens are Leopoldo, Attanasio, Carraturo, Scaturchio, Bellavia, Il Ciottolo or Gay Odin, which is an old chocolate factory. All have shops around the city.
Fancy something to drink?
As neapolitans are famous for pizza, we are also well known for the quality of our Caffe. Drinking coffee is more than drinking coffee. It's an excuse to have a break for work, have a chat with a friend or just to have a caffeine fix. It's a philosophy of life. Beware neapolitan coffee is quite strong, There are many types, cold, with chocolate or milk, cappuccino (never after 11 am!), but the traditional one is only the ristretto (espresso). Typical caffe' made in Naples are: Caffe' Moreno, Lollo caffe', caffe' Kimbo, Kenon, caffe' Toraldo and caffe' Borbone just in case you fancy take some as souvenir.
The most famous cafe in Naples is Gambrinus, near Piazza Plebiscito, which is one of the oldest cafes in the city and was the centre of the belle époque. It was founded in 1860 and it has been the centre of the cultural, artistic and intellectual Neapolitan life. It is absolutely a must to visit and its caffe' will warm your heart up. Here was invented the suspended caffe'. Nope, it's not a new type of caffe' but it's a type of charity. The Upper classes used to go to the Gambrinus and pay a coffee' in advance for someone in need, a poor or a homeless who would claim it later on. It is still very popular today.
Limoncello is another "must" of the neapolitan tradition. Originally from the Sorrento coast, it is an alcoholic liqueur made with lemon. It is generally served chilled, to be taken after a meal (and after the caffe'). In some restaurants, when you ask for a limoncello it's on the house, but it's not very expensive and nowadays it is possible to find variations of the recipe like Meloncello (melon), Pistacchiocello (pistacchio), Fragoncello (strawberry) and Cream di Limoncello (limoncello cream) and Chocolate.
Also others typical liqueurs are available in bars and restaurants like Strega (originally from Benevento, in Campania), Fragolino (with strawberry), Liquore al Finocchietto (fennel), Liquore di amarene (cherry), Liquore al mandarino dei Campi Flegrei (mandarin from Flegrei area, near the Vesuvius), Nocillo (green nuts).
Thanks to the warm climate and the fertile soil there is a huge range of wines especially in the volcanic areas near the Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei. Here, there is the production of the traditional Neapolitan wines: whites like Coda di Volpe and Falanghina, and reds like Piedirosso, Sciascinoso, Aglianico and Lacryma Christi (according to the legend, this last wine was created when Lucifer took a piece of Heaven to shape the Gulf of Naples, Christ seeing all that beauty cried for the emotion and His tears made the soil rich and fertile). Where ever you go in Campania, there are local and prestigious wines, like, for instance, in the Sorrento coast there is the Gragnano and Lettere, both sparkling fruity reds, best served chilled. In Ischia you can find white wine like the Forastiera and Biancolella, the red like Piedirosso and Guarnaccia. On the island of Capri, the calcium rich soil produces fruity wines like Greco Bianco, Falanghina and Biancolella (all white) or Piedirosso (red). Avellino has some of the most popular wines called Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo (both red) or the Aglianico del Taburno (red) from Benevento. Just the sound of the names make you feel thirsty. It is a real shame not to try them all, isn't it?!
If you fancy something more alcoholic, there are cool lounge bars all along the promenade, in the via Chiaia area, which is the heart of Naples night life, as well as via Aniello Falcone and in the Vomero area.
For more info about all the areas of nice bars, check my blog about the Neapolitan night life.