Italy is famous for its yummy food, and Campania – the region that is home to Naples and the Amalfi Coast – surely helped to build up Italy’s reputation as a foodie country. But there’s more to Naples than its pizza, the heavenly dish created here in the 19th Century. Here’s the Italian’s guide to Neapolitan food to try in Naples and Campania.
Sfogliatella, Babà and Campanella
The sfogliatella is a typical breakfast pastry made with either soft or crispy dough and filled with ricotta and lemon zest. Ideally it’s served warm – and the best ones have some sort of cream on top. My absolute favourites are always from Gran Caffè Gambrinus in Piazza Del Plebiscito, one of Naples’ longest standing cafès counting Totó, the famous Italian comedian, among its patrons.
A sfogliatella and a cappuccino at Gambrinus (had while standing at the bar counter, in true Italian tradition) will only set you back €5, although it’s slightly more expensive if you have them while sitting.
Gambrinus is also one of Naples’ most iconic and best patisseries, which is why it offers so much choice in terms of sfogliatella. I went for the Lobster Tail one with chantilly cream and I couldn’t get enough.
If you’re a fan of weird combinations like cronuts, you should try the campanella, an upside down sfogliatella which mixes the latter with babà au rum, another traditional Neapolitan pastry.
These are served in a variety of bakeries and cafès, but I had mine from SfogliateLab. It was filled with berry cream and chocolate and it was yummy AF.
A cuoppo is a paper cone filled with fried delicacies – either carbs and vegetables or mussels and fish.
According to my Campanian friends, the term cuoppo is also used to describe dumb people, but there’s nothing dumb about this dish. Served all around Naples and surrounding areas, it’s generally quite cheap and so filling it counts as a whole meal.
I recently had one in Via Toledo, one of Naples’ main shopping streets, for just €5. I got my “cuoppo di terra” (so cuoppo without seafood) from Passione di Sofí and filled it with arancini, fried aubergines and courgettes, fried bread, fried pasta and fried mozzarella. I could barely walk afterwards, but it was to die for.
So you like pizza, but have you had it fried? Pizza fritta is served in every decent Neapolitan friggitoria (literally, “fry place”) and it’s GIANT. This is not a drill. I once held one in my hands and it was almost as big as a fat cat. It’s so big it doesn’t fit into a plate (still talking about pizza here).
Sure, it might not be the healthiest dish on the planet, but again, it’s often less than a tenner and it fills you up for good. You can walk it off, right?
If I were to pick one spot, I’d say you have to get your pizza fritta from Esterina Sorbillo in the Vomero neighbourhood or in Spaccanapoli, pretty much where that famous Dolce & Gabbana ad with Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen was shot. It’s the most iconic pizza fritta in town, but food in Naples is pretty fantastic anyway if queues are not your thing.
Naples = food heaven
There are plenty of foods you should be trying in Naples. Chances are that every pizza, pasta or gelato tastes better there – and I’m not from there, so I’m not biased. But these are my favourite dishes and the selection I’ve made for you. I’d gladly accept more recommendations. Hope you enjoy them!
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