Must-Eat Italy: Three Things to Eat in Naples

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It’s impossible to sum up all the culinary delights of an Italian city in just three dishes. But when travelers have only a limited amount of time to visit, it’s important to make sure the absolutely-can-not-miss dishes are at the tippy-top of your dining priority list.

This is how I try to help you find the best Naples dishes.

There are a million other amazing things you can eat in Naples that I haven’t mentioned. Rich and delicious polpette (never served with spaghetti). Any number of “cucina povera” pasta dishes, from pasta e fagioli to pasta alla puttanesca. Sticky sweet baba al rhum cakes. The coffee – how about Neapolitan coffee? (Another time, perhaps.) Although I do leave plenty of deliciousness, eating in Italy is not like touring the country.

This list of three must-try things in Naples will help you to have three unforgettable culinary experiences during your time in Naples.

While you’re there, learn more about Italian cuisine and things to do in Naples.


I don’t think you need me to tell ya to eat pizza in Naples. Right. This is the city that gave rise to pizza.

According to most scholars, at least. Not all, but most.)

According to legend, the traditional flatbread recipe that was used in Naples in 18th-century Naples is what gave rise to the pizza we love and eat today. Pizza was still a street food that was sold from a cart in the 19th century. Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889. A Neapolitan pizzaiolo made a pizza in her honour with the colors of the Italian flag: tomato sauce for the red and white bands, fresh mozzarella cheese for each white and green band, and fresh basil leaves for the green.

The legend was born.

A consortium exists in Naples today to ensure that pizza makers use only approved ingredients and methods of preparation. Otherwise, they won’t be able to call their pizzas Neapolitan. A sign with the symbol of the Pulcinella figure, which looks somewhat like a court jester and is dressed in white, holding a pizza peel, will be posted outside any approved pizzeria.

Although I have had many delicious pizzas in Naples, I must admit that my favorite and the standard for how I judge pizzerias is a simple Margherita pizza (preferably with mozzarella di bufala). A pizzeria that creates a culinary masterpiece from a few simple ingredients is worthy of my praise.

Aside: I might need to write another article about eating authentic Neapolitan Pizza. But for now, let me say that you won’t be able to do that with Naples pizza. The pizzas in Naples are soupy, so you need to eat them with a knife or fork. Pizzas are usually single-serving. Most people order their own pizzas, which is usually dinner.

Buon Appetito.


Fritto Misto di Mare || creative commons photo by Ra Boe

It is healthy! That’s what I love about Italy. You will love the Italian food you get. It has lots of seasonal ingredients, fresh vegetables, olive oils in place of butter, and sensible portions. The healthy food is so good that you’ll almost forget what you ate back at home.

Then there’s Naples where you can deep fry almost anything.

Fritti are fried foods that can be found in both restaurants and street food. A paper bag containing fried vegetables, fish, and cheese can be picked up by friends to share. Or, you can order fritto di mare (mixed seafood*) for your main course.

Neapolitans love fried food so much that they will deep fry their pizza dough.

Naples has many authentic pizza shops that double as fritti sellers. If you look outside at midday, you will often see a display case with fried goods or items just waiting to be purchased and then fried. This snack is cheap and may include items such as deep-fried squash blossoms, filled with cheese or anchovy, depending on the season.

I love pizza so much that I rarely eat out when I’m in Naples. But I do make sure to have a little bit of fritti.


I love Italian food that is also enjoyable to eat, and sfogliatella definitely fits that description. It’s also a delicious, sweet pastry treat.

yah There are two types. The one with a smooth exterior is called sfogliatella rolla, while the other shows the flaky layers of dough (sfogliatellariccia). While the former is simpler to make, I think the latter is more beautiful. Both cases are filled with sweetened ricotta and almond paste.

Although the Santa Rosa monastery is closer to Salerno, the origins of sfogliatella are more local. However, it has been a hallmark pastry of Naples since the 19th century.

When I received the sfogliatella from the pastry counter, my first impression was that it was heavy. This is the opposite of the light, airy cornetto I had for breakfast. These are more filling than you might think, so don’t eat them in the afternoon if you want to have enough room for dinner.

It’s your turn now!

Tell me: What three must-eats would you recommend for Naples? Which three things do you look forward to most when you visit Naples?

* Take a break from the pizza (what ??!?)). It is best to avoid deep-frying. Spaghetti con Le Vongole (with clams), and a seafood risotto known as risotto ala pescatora are both common. Popular are mussels (cozze), though I don’t like mussels so I can’t speak for the Neapolitan.

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5 Responses to “Must Eat Italy: 3 Things to Eat In Naples”

  • Your article’s title got me thinking. “Will the sfogliatella get included?” I then became distracted by reading about the pizzas and fritti. I don’t think they have the same negative associations that you associate with “fried foods” here in English. Then you chose one of my favorite recipes. The texture of the sfogliatelle is what makes it so delicious. It’s crunchy, with layers of pastry and then the creamy ricotta filling. It’s so good that I have the same thoughts about weight. I think about my stomach and hips immediately after I see the weight.

    But back to the fritti, here’s a link to my post about lunch in a Neapolitan trattoria of a frittura mista, alici fritti (anchovies) and the incredible rapini:

  • Joyce Jones says:

    Neapolitan Rum Baba? It will blow your socks off.

  • Pete R has the following:

    Margarita pizza is my favorite kind of pizza. Jessica, another great post.

    • Jess has the following:

      RIGHT??!? The same goes for me. It’s my favorite pizza. I feel guilty ordering it every time I go, but nothing is quite as simple and delicious.

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