‘Where are you going for your holiday?’ ‘To Naples.’ ‘With the mafia?’ After overhearing this brief watercooler exchange, one understands how such an awesome tourist destination ends up being relegated to the B-list.

napoles-naples

A World Heritage Site that’s rough around the edges, chaotic, dirty and brimming with local colour: in Naples, there’s an overabundance of churches and baroque architecture; the kids play football shirtless in the alleys of the city centre; the number of motorcyclists who use their helmets can be counted on one hand; the traffic lights rarely work, so crossing the street is always an act of bravery; and you can forget about getting your change back from the taxi drivers. In the wealthier neighbourhoods in the hills, such as Vomero, they like to frighten visitors by telling them how dangerous it is in the city. But all you really need to enjoy this indomitable metropolis—a favourite of lovers of fine art and fine food—is common sense and a sense of freedom.

napoles_quesos

When it comes to food, there are a few details visitors won’t fail to notice: the virtual absence of supermarkets; the preponderance of small grocers (butchers, fishmongers, corner shops where you can buy not only sausage and tinned food, but also parmigiana and other typical dishes, not to mention pickles—lots of pickles); the enormous variety of tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes (if you have a little spare time, stop by the Resina street market in Ercolano, where you’ll see produce like you’ve never seen before); delicious pizza and other dishes that are more delicious still.

In case the Quick Guide for Gourmands we present to you in the photo gallery below isn’t enough, we urge you to download this app: Osterie d’Italia from Slow Food Editore. True, it’s a bit expensive, but in it, you’ll find the best inns.

HERE WE GO!

Crudo

Crudo x 2

There’s a long-standing tradition of eating seafood raw—or with a spritz of lemon juice. In Spain, this custom is fading away in the interests of stomach health, except in the case of oysters and clams in certain places like Carril. But as they say, ‘When in Rome…’ So try it without fear!

These meals for two generally consist of a couple of oysters, prawns, gamberi siciliani, which are similar to red shrimp, and some other mollusc of the mussel variety.

Where can you get it?

At the Friggitoria Mediterranea, a cute and quirky restaurant and takeaway site specializing in seafood. The most impressive offering of this restaurant, located next to the bustling promenade in the Mergellina area, is the native bivalve, which looks and tastes like an oyster, but is about the size of a clam. Tasty!

Taralli

Taralli

They’re not only a speciality of the Campania region, but in Castel dell’Ovo, they reach the pinnacle of their expression. This baked snack, made from flour, white wine and garlic powder, among other ingredients, can be eaten as an appetizer or served with prosciutto and salami, antipasto or any other worthy accompaniment. To give you a better idea, one could say that they’re the Italian equivalent of pretzels, except that they may include nuts, cheese, sausage, vegetables, etc. There’s an infinite variety with infinite nuances of flavour.

Where can you get them?

Tarallificio Leopoldo is a classic bakery with locations throughout the city. We recommend that you take a stroll through the lovely, serene Botanical Gardens and then stop in the nearby Via Foria. When it’s time to chow down, pepperoni and broccoli are the preferred flavours.

 

Tarallificio Leopoldo is a classic bakery with locations throughout the city. We recommend that you take a stroll through the lovely, serene Botanical Gardens and then stop in the nearby Via Foria. When it’s time to chow down, pepperoni and broccoli are the preferred flavours.

limoncello

Misto

This mixture of orange and lemon juice is most refreshing, especially when travelling in summer. Not recommended for those who suffer from indigestion.

Where can you get it?

At any street side stand. As an alternative, the home-style lemon slush they sell is always a safe bet.

Alicis

Alici

Contrary to what it says in an article hanging on the walls of Fide, a notable seafood restaurant in Madrid, a ‘boquerón’ is the same thing as an anchovy, just prepared a different way. The Neapolitans have given a new twist to the Spanish custom of impregnating them with vinegar or garlic: marinated anchovies served warm with just a touch of both ingredients. Delicious!

Where can you get them?

At the Osteria Della Chitarra, an intimate locale, run by a local couple in the University district, near the unruly Quartieri Spagnoli. It’s an authentic restaurant with reasonable prices (approximately €20 per person), situated in the heart of the tourist area. If you plan on dining there, we highly recommend the Neapolitan rice, also shown in the photo, a risotto with tomato and basil. When it comes to food in Italy, you’ll quickly discover that less is more and the simpler, the better.

Ragú, tamden, napoli

Ragù

This meat sauce with tomato, celery and peppers, among other ingredients, originated in France, but Naples transformed it into one of its primary gastronomic strengths. It’s served with pasta, meatballs or both.

Where can you get it?

Any gourmand worth his weight should know a few good places. Following the advice of El Comidista, we’ll try Tandem. Delicious and reasonably priced (approx. €20 per person). If you’re leaning towards this option, make sure you start by ordering a platter of regional cheeses, including scamorza.

buco pertuso Napoli

Vino

In the little region of Campania, there are no fewer than 19 protected designations of origin, encompassing reds, whites and rosés. Our suggestion? Katà Catalanesca, a limited-edition white wine of volcanic origin from Mount Vesuvius.

Where can you get it?

In the tiny Bucopertuso pub, located in the heart of the University district. Almost directly across the street from Tandem. Ask the server for advice and don’t forget to order some taralli.

frutti di mare

Frutti di mare

Pasta, typically spaghetti, with mussels and clams, a little bit of garlic and a spritz of olive oil: a simple wonder.

Where can you get it?

At the Antica Osteria Pisano in the Quartieri Spagnoli. The service is a bit brusque, but the food is beyond reproach.

Pizza marinera, napoles

Pizza

Of course! You thought we’d never get to it, but here it is and it’s nothing like what you ordered last Friday night from the corner takeaway. It’s crisp with very thin crust and minimal toppings. The classic pizza par excellence is the marinara: garlic, tomato, olive oil and oregano (no cheese). The pizza industry is regulated by the government, and the establishments that meet the official requirements bear a distinctive insignia.

Where can you get it?

Michele and Sorbillo are the big leaders, and the long lines are proof positive. So instead, we’ll try one further from the historic quarters, but no less distinguished: Gorizia, in Vomero. And we’ll break protocol by ordering a marinara pizza with salted alici: yummy, yummy!

limoncello napoli

Limoncello

The town of Sorrento, near Naples, is the ultimate land of lemons. Every self-respecting home and restaurant makes its own limoncello. Order it after dessert and compare it from one restaurant to another. But beware: it’s not only succulent, but potent!

Where can you get it?

Everywhere you dine: the pleasure is in the variety. After several tries, we’re sticking with the one served at the Antica Osteria Pisano.

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About the author

A lover of police dramas and lurid crime programmes in general. Galician through and through. I love soft-shell crabs and olives. And travelling. If my Spanish has too many accents, it’s because the RAE and I disagree.

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