What to eat in Naples: the best authentic food you should not miss
Preparing food and eating together with family and friends is one of the great pleasures in life in Italy and especially in Naples. The Neapolitan cuisine is one of seasonal, fresh, local and inexpensive ingredients and yet some of Italy's most well-known dishes were created right here. Discover the 10 most delicious dishes and traditional foods from Naples.
Pizza is without a doubt Italy's most famous dish. But did you know that the first pizza was baked in Naples? Flatbread was already known in Naples and sold on the streets under the name "Pizzas." In honor of Queen Margherita of Savoy, chef Raffaele Esposito created a special pizza for her in 1889. Topping the flatbread with tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil, in the colors of the Italian flag. From that day on it was known as the Pizza Margherita and variations began to pop up in all the different parts of the country.
Impepata di cozze
Being located directed on the sea the Neapolitan cuisine offers a lot of seafood dishes, and Impepate di cozze is one of the most appreciated. Fresh mussels prepared with tomatoes, white wine, black pepper, and sprinkled with parsley. Use a piece of bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
Spaghetti alla puttanesca
Prepared with only a few basic ingredients Spaghetti alla puttanesca is a genuine and tasty Neapolitan classic. It consists of tomato sauce, garlic, black olives, capers, and oregano served over spaghetti. Legend has it that this dish was first served in a house of pleasure in the infamous Spanish Quarters, hence the colorful name "spaghetti in the style of the whore."
Mozzarella di bufala
The water buffalo was introduced to Italy sometime during the early Middle Ages. The delicious mozzarella di bufala cheese that is produced in the Campana region has a special trademark that was granted the protective Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) status. Mozzarella di bufala can be found in numerous Neapolitan dishes. To enjoy the soft buttery taste to the fullest it's best to use the mozzarella in simple dishes such as pizza Margherita or a Caprese salad.
Neapolitans are so fond of fried food that they even deep fry the famous pizza dough. Stuffed with ricotta, provola cheese, cold cuts, meatballs or vegetables, the dough is dipped in hot oil until it becomes crispy.
Naples Street food
Naples has a rich street food tradition that proves that you can fry just about anything. Served in a paper cone, the "cuoppo" there is an abundance of delicious bites to choose from. Fried fish, potato croquettes, rice balls, fried veggies, fried pasta balls stuffed with minced pork, mozzarella in carrozza and more. A classic is a cuoppo with zeppole and panzerotti (fried pastry dough and deep-fried pockets of pasta dough with a variety of fillings).
Gattò di patate
The name gattò was derived from the French gâteau, who brought the recipe of this savory potato pie to Naples in the 18th century. There are endless variations possible on the recipe depending on the area or family traditions. The basic recipe consists of potatoes, cooked ham or mortadella, scamorza and parmiggiano cheese, mozzarella, eggs, and butter.
Tasty meatballs served in a thick tomato sauce were usually prepared at home, but can also be found now on the menu of restaurants or in the street food scene. Clean your plate by scooping up the sauce with a piece of bread. The Italians even have a word for that "fare la scarpetta."
Parmigiana di Melanzane
Although the origins of this dish are unclear, the Naples area has claimed Eggplant Parmesan as its own. Pan-fried eggplant slices are layered with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmigiano cheese and baked in the oven.
Although the sweet cake has its origins in France, the Neapolitans perfected the recipe and made the Babà their own. Babà is a small yeast cake soaked in rum syrup and filled with whipped cream or pastry cream.
This shell-shaped pastry comes in two variations. One with a smooth exterior (sfogliatella frolla) and the other made of many layers of flaky dough (sfogliatella riccia). This sweet treat typically contains sweetened ricotta, semolina, cinnamon, eggs, and candied fruit.
Neapolitan pastiera is tipically an Easter cake. According to tradition, every family in Naples prepares one during Holy Week to be eaten on Easter day. The cake is made using the ingredients that symbolized life and the resurrection: flour, ricotta, eggs, wheat, orange flower water and spices, including cinnamon and sugar.
A Zeppola is an Italian pastry consisting of a deep-fried dough ball. This doughnut is usually topped with powdered sugar, and may be filled with custard, jelly, cannoli-style pastry cream, or a butter-and-honey mixture. Zeppole are traditionally consumed during the Festa di San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph's Day) celebrated every March 19, when zeppole are sold on many streets and sometimes presented as gifts. They are always topped with sugar either powdered or coarse.
A specialty of the Gulf of Naples and the Amalfi coast, Limoncello is a lemon-flavored liqueur that has become a big hit all around Italy and abroad. Especially in the summer, an ice-cold glass of Limoncello is the perfect ending to an al fresco dinner. Read here to know more.