Pizza Napoletana – the only pizza worth knowing in Naples
Ask any random group of tourists to name Naples’ most famous attraction and pizza will certainly be one of the first answers! Neapolitan pizza has conquered the taste buds of almost everyone who has encountered it, regardless of age or culinary preferences. The secret of its universally loved flavour is the traditional recipe based on fresh, local ingredients.
This symbol of Naples’ cuisine is more than just a tasty snack. The authentic Neapolitan pizza recipe, handed down from generation to generation, is actually listed as an intangible heritage by UNESCO, which gives you some idea of just how seriously pizza is taken here. What’s more, any restaurant that wants to serve authentic Neapolitan pizza must strictly follow this recipe.
What is an authentic Neapolitan pizza?
Neapolitan pizza is made with Italian type 00 wheat flour (or with a mixture of type 0 flour); sea salt, yeast, water with a pH value of between six and seven and a temperature of 16-22°C. The dough is kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer and then left to rise for a long time. The pizza is shaped by hand so that the dough is 3 mm thick and the edges are firm. A traditional Neapolitan pizza has a maximum diameter of 35 cm.
Traditional Neapolitan pizza owes its distinct flavour to San Marzano tomatoes, which grow at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. Other ingredients depend on what type of Neapolitan pizza you want to try. One thing is for sure – your pizza is always made with quality local ingredients.
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Two of the most popular varieties are the simple-but-delicious Pizza Marinara, which consists of tomato sauce, oregano, olive oil and garlic, and the classic Pizza Margherita, which combines the same tomato sauce with torn pieces of mozzarella cheese made from cow or buffalo milk, olive oil, a grated hard cheese such as parmigiana and fresh basil leaves.
Coal-fired and fried: the two two types of Neapolitan pizza
Naples has many aces up its culinary sleeve. When visiting pizzerias,you’ll find the classic Neapolitan pizza front and centre, however fritta, or fried pizza, is also popular. So, what is the difference between fritta and traditional Neapolitan pizza? Traditional Neapolitan pizza not only specifies the use of local ingredients and the way the dough is formed, but also the way it is baked. The classic Neapolitan pizza is baked in a wood-fired oven at a temperature of almost 500°C for 60-90 seconds. To preserve the quality of the dough, the best pizzerias in Naples make sure that the pizza is served to the customer as soon as possible after it comes out of the oven, with a maximum of 10 minutes recommended.
Fried pizza is another option for pizza lovers. This is just as aromatic as its baked counterpart, but has a crispier texture, as it is fried in oil heated to about 175°C. The pizza itself can be round or in a half-moon shape known as a calzone. Fillings are also different from the classic Neapolitan pizza, with tempting toppings such as ricotta, fior di latte or provola mozzarella with salami or ciccioli, all complemented by a spicy note of pepper and fresh crushed tomatoes.
How much does a pizza cost in Naples?
You can try a traditional Neapolitan marinara or margherita pizza for around €5. It is worth noting that Neapolitan pizza is sold in one piece and is eaten with cutlery, from the centre of the dough to the edges, which are then dipped in the remaining olive oil or tomato sauce. Another option is to cut out slices of pizza and fold them like a sandwich.
You can also enjoy pizza as street food in Naples – look for signs that say Pizza a Portafoglio. How much does a slice of pizza cost in Naples? It’s surprisingly affordable, with slices of pizza folded and wrapped in paper available for around €2, while fried pizza is usually around €3-4. Avoid places that sell Neapolitan pizza or portafoglio for €10. These are tourist-oriented establishments and the food they serve isn’t usually of the highest quality.
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TOP 5 pizzerias in Naples
Which takes the crown as Naples’ best pizza? A lot depends on where you go. If you are in the city, check out the most popular pizzerias.
1. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
Definitely the most famous pizzeria in Naples, thanks to Julia Roberts and the iconic scene from the film “Eat, Pray and Love” in which the actress enjoys a pizza here. However, this pizzeria achieved cult status much earlier than the film, thanks to the superior taste of its handmade pizzas. There are just four options to choose from here – margherita, marinara, marita (which combines the first two) and cosacca, which replaces mozzarella with pecorino cheese. Each variety costs between €5 and €5.50 and you should be prepared for a long queue at the entrance!
Address: Via Cesare Sersale, 1, 80139 Naples.
2. Gino e Toto Sorbillo
A pizzeria loved by tourists and locals alike, this is one of the oldest pizzerias in the area, operating since 1935. Here you can eat delicious Neapolitan pizza, and if you fancy fried pizza, there is a sister restaurant in Naples that specialises in this – Antica Pizza Fritta da Zia Esterina Sorbillo.
Address: Via dei Tribunali, 32, 80138 Naples.
3. Di Matteo
According to many, this is the best pizzeria in Naples, while according to others, it is one of the top five. The restaurant stretches over two floors and offers both classic and fried pizzas, as well as the opportunity to sample some other specialities.Famous fans include former US president Bill Clinton.
Address: Via Tribunali, 94, 80138 Naples.
4. La Figlia Del Presidente
A pizzeria that has run for three generations, this place is famous for its menu of 40 different pizzas! Even the biggest food critics will find something to their taste. If you like unusual toppings such as Nutella, make time to visit this restaurant.
Address: Via Grande Archivio 23/24, 80138 Naples.
A pizzeria with a history dating back to 1901, Starita’s popularity has led to it opening pizzerias around the world. One of the restaurant’s cult dishes is the Maradona horns, a deep-fried pizza in the shape of a horseshoe filled with ricotta, ciccioli and pepper.
Address: Via Materdei, 27/28, 80136 Naples.
The best pizza in Naples? Ask a local!
So where is the best pizza in Naples? When it comes to choosing a place to eat, it is always worth asking a local for their recommendations. In addition to the pizzerias mentioned above, you’ll find plenty of places with live music and a wide variety of Italian cuisine in Naples. If in doubt, always follow the locals! Here are some popular Naples hotspots.
1. Trattoria Nennell, 1949
A pizzeria serving delicious Neapolitan pizza and traditional Italian dishes. While the food is great, you’re also guaranteed good fun, with dancing and singing waiters encouraging everyone to feast!
Address: Vico Lungo Teatro Nuovo 103/104/105, Quartieri Spagnoli – 80134 Naples.
2. Trattoria Caprese
Here you can enjoy excellent lunches as well as dinners that run late into the night. The restaurant serves both classic and fried pizzas, as well as meat and fish dishes. If you want a guaranteed seat, make a reservation and get ready to have fun to the rhythm of Italian music.
Address: Via Luca Giordano, 25, 80127 Naples.