Eating your way through Naples

The lively city of Naples is an exciting and chaotic place that is bound to work up an appetite in any visitor. Once you’ve done the museums and churches, and salivated at the colourful food market, it’s time to dine on the culinary specialities of Naples. The cuisine of Naples relies on first-rate ingredients that grow in the nearby farmlands or are fished off the coast. The city’s mild climate means that good fresh produce is available year round, and markets are replenished on a daily basis. Here are some tips for tasting the gastronomic specialities of Naples.

  • Pizza & Buffalo Mozzarella

    Naples is the birthplace of pizza, and no trip to Naples is complete without tasting la vera pizza napoletana. Made with dough that must rise for at least 6 hours, and formed into a disc by the expert hands of a pizzaiolo (a rolling pin is cheating!), it is cooked in a wood-fired oven at the blazing temperature of 485C (905F).  The most common pizza available in Naples is the pizza Margherita, made with tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella from either cow’s milk or from buffalo, and it mimics the colours of the Italian flag. Taste this traditional pizza at Antica Pizzeria Da Gaetano, where pizza is baked for no more than 90 seconds. If you want to see where mozzarella di bufala comes from and how it is made, make a trip to Tenuta Vannulo, in Capaccio Scalo, which is on a train line and not far from the Greek temples at Paestum. 

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  • Greens

    Friarielli are similar to broccoli rabe or rapini, and are mainly available from fall to spring.  They are sautéed in olive oil and garlic, or steamed and served with olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice – add some hot pepper if you like a little zing to your greens. Their slightly bitter taste is a natural companion to grilled sausage and a meal in itself.  Big mounds of friarielli are served at the rustic trattoria-pizzeria Da Ettore, near the Piazza del Plebiscito.  

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  • Pasta

    A classic Napoletano pasta dish is linguine with little clams, called vongole.  Cooked with olive oil, garlic, parsley and a bit of hot pepper, the quality and freshness of the ingredients make this simple dish sublime. You can taste linguine alle vongole in numerous seafood restaurants in Naples.  We like Da Dora, where traditional music may accompany your meal. 

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  • Drinks

    It is said that the best coffee in Italy (and therefore the world!) is to be found in Naples – perhaps it is the local water or another untold secret, but we think it is true. The Gran Caffè Gambrinus has a lovely atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a stand-up bar, and excellent coffee. For an after dinner drink, try a little glass of limoncello, made from the fragrant lemons grown on the slopes of the Amalfi Coast. It is often offered in restaurants in Naples, usually served ice cold in frosted glasses.  This sweet lemony drink goes down easily, but beware, it packs an alcoholic wallop. 

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  • Sweets

    Warm flaky sfogliatelle with a ricotta filling is the symbol of Neapolitan sweets, and many pastry shops bake all day long so that the sfogliatelle are always fresh and warm.  Or try pastiera, a traditional Easter sweet now available all year round, and made with wheat kernels and ricotta, or the syrup-soaked baba’ al rum. Stop by the Scaturchio pastry shop that has been turning out these delicacies since 1905.  If you are in the mood for chocolate, go to the Gay Odin historic chocolate shop, that offers several flavours of chocolate gelato along with melt in your mouth candies.  For a myriad of gelato flavours that will satisfy everyone, head to Fantasia Gelati, where fruit flavours are a specialty.   Or try the gelato di bufala, made with creamy buffalo milk.

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