Italian food is now UNESCO protected – how many other countries can say that huh? Here are 10 regional dishes that absolutely must find their way down your gullet in Naples:
1. Gnocchi alla Sorrentina.
A beautiful dish from Sorrento; gnocchi alla Sorrentina is good for your taste buds… but maybe not so good for your waistline! Gnocchi served with a sauce made up of tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and parmesan. Delizioso!
2. Pizza Napoletana
Napoli is the birthplace of pizza so eating one here is like an orgasm for your mouth. The traditional Napoletana is your standard plain/cheese and tomato pizza. The girth on the thing is astounding but you’ll probably surprise yourself in managing to eat it all – they are that good! The pizzas are thin so you can tear off a slice, fold it up, and eat it like a true Italian! Pizzas and pizzerias are every which way in Napoli -those in Centro Storico are particularly loved by the locals. You should also try fried pizza, and the stuffed types. You’ll have pizza coming out your eyeballs by the end of your trip.
3. Parmigiana di Melonzane
Essentially, an Italian veggie bake – aubergine with herbs, mozzarella and parmesan. I know what you’re thinking and I’m not a fan of the healthy, veggie options usually either – but the Italians have a way of ploughing things with Cheese and making them oh so delicious (and no longer healthy).
4. Pasta Puttanesca
…. or Slut’s pasta as I like to call it (this is what prostitutes would eat back in the day as it was cheap, filling and tasty… I can think of worse meals! By the way, in Italian, Puttana = Bitch… so Bitch sauce!) Puttanesca is a tomato based sauce with olives, garlic and parsley and often the addition of capers and anchovies.
5. Mozzarella di Bufala
When my Neapolitan friend invited me for lunch and then laid out some marinated tomatoes and mushrooms as a side salad for a huge ball of mozzarella cheese I looked at her like she was on crack. I like mozzarella, I often use it in sandwiches and various recipes but sit and eat a whole ball of it? You mad? I cut off a little slice.. a little slice more… just a little bit more, and that was the end of my huge ball of mozzarella. The majority of Buffalo Mozzarella production takes place in and around Naples – you won’t find fresher, tastier mozzarella anywhere else.
6. Ricetta Salcicce e Friarielli
Friarielli is similar to broccoli rabe, but a green all of its own, native to the Campania region of Italy – cooked in olive oil and garlic and served with Italian sausage. Buon appetito!
7. Polpette alla Napoletana
…a.k.a. Neapolitan meat balls – You won’t ever have tastier balls in your mouth than Italian meat balls I assure you. Typically cooked with parsley and garlic and served in a tasty ragu. You’ll get bread on the side too for dipping/scooping any last ragu-y remnants from the bowl – in Napoli it is almost a crime to waste good ragu!
The most adorned local Campania dessert. If you like Cannolis, then you will probably like Sfogliatelle – this is a leaf shaped pastry filled with ricotta cheese. They are available in a number of variations – a popular one being ricotta with orange rind flavouring.
The nice thing about the patisseries in Naples is, if you don’t want to have a full sized cake – either for calorie purposes, or you’re not sure you’ll like it, they have cute teeny tiny ones available and they are just 0.50 Euros!
9. Baba al Rhum
A small yeast cake soaked in Rum. It’s typical to see Neapolitans queuing for these after an evening out.. to soak up the alcohol with… alcohol.
Ok, it’s not an “only in Naples” type thing but I am from the school of “one can never have too much gelato”. There are a ton of gelaterias on Via Toledo and in Centro Storico. The great thing is that you can get a pot for less than 2 Euros (far cheaper then Rome, Florence, etc) and you can mix and match from an array of weird and wonderful flavours.
Check out ‘Fantasia Gelati’ – there are a couple of branches around Naples and they are known for being the ‘masters’ of artisan gelato.