Top Things to Do in Naples Italy for Foodies
If you’re a foodie looking for unique things to do in Naples Italy that revolve around food, congratulations on coming to one of the most prolific and best food cities in Italy. You’re in for a real treat!
Travel south of Rome and local Italians will tell you you’ve entered the real Italy, a statement as bold but authentic an introduction as you will get to Naples and southern Italy — in your face and sure to cause a stir or at least a lively chat!
But Neapolitans are right in some ways. Everything changes in southern Italy, especially when it comes to the food. What this means for foodies is a thriving food and wine scene that’s approachable and affordable.
Whether you prefer street food or Michelin starred dining, Italian cooking classes or a great food tour, this guide is your tasting menu for the Bay of Naples.
Naples Italy Food Culture
The local food scene in Napoli goes far beyond the style of pizza and pulse-packed pasta dishes from Naples and Sorrento. Tasting the food in Campania is one of the highlights of any visit to this coastal region, with the skill of its home cooks and top restaurant chefs complemented by the freshest local seafood and produce from the fertile lands of the region.
It all begins with the base ingredients: lemons and other heady citrus, lush greenery to eat, succulent seafood, and plump, ripe tomatoes. But not just any tomatoes… DOP San Marzano tomatoes and cherry tomatoes grown on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius. Locals breads are gluten-y with a yeasty heavenly smell. Plus, garlic is its own food group in southern Italy, and how bad is that!
It’s almost impossible to have a bad dish with staples like these. From handmade pasta to freshly baked pizza and way beyond.
There’s a great range of food tours, markets and cookery classes in Naples to enjoy. You can also dine at a Michelin starred eatery by the sea, sample street food, sip fine wines or try one of many local specialties.
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Why Naples Is Worth a (Longer) Visit
10 years ago when I first wrote about Naples as a bucket list destination, the response was actually debated among some of our readers. Today, thankfully, the city no longer needs many props. Now, us travel writers can get on about the business of enjoying the many fruits of the city without setting the stage as much. As much….
I’ll say it again for those who may still be on the fence — Naples, Italy is not what you might think. Whatever you may have heard or read, it’s really so much more. And I’m saying this as someone who loves this city, the city where my family comes from. Because even those who know and love Naples know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Honestly, Naples wasn’t love at first sight for me, but only because it felt so familiar to us from the start. We had expected it to be different for some strange reason, not like a family reunion. But since both my husband’s family and mine came from Campania to America, it was now our own gene pool we had swam back to. For me, two generations had passed since my grandfather first boarded the Madonna bound for America. Once we made that cognitive connection, we felt right at home in Naples.
This guide will help you shortlist your Neapolitan foodie musts. This foodie’s guide to Naples will walk you through all the gastronomic highlights to be had in this southern Italy seaside city. In the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, the warm Mediterranean climate and coastal location of Campania’s capital yields a treasure trove of local ingredients you can only find in Campania.
Top Things to Do in Naples Italy for Foodies
Take a food tour
What better way to sample the finest food of Naples than by taking a foodie trip around town, sipping wine on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius or taking part in a pizza or pasta making masterclass? From an hour or two up to a full day trip, you can explore and book a range of Naples’ best food tours here.
>>> There are several good food tours in Naples, Italy but here’s one we loved in particular — a 3 Hour Taste of Local Foods! <<<
or, if you want to get out of the city for the afternoon…
>>> This 3-5 hour e-bike tour through the scenic Phlegrean Fields just outside the city puts you straight into the food heart and soul of Napoli! <<<
Unique Food Experiences
Naples’ culinary delights are many, yet sometimes the simplest pleasures are the best. While the pizza itself may be far from unique, experiencing it at the source — in Napoli — is an absolute must.
Whether it’s a seafood bedecked marinara or a classic Margherita, eating at a Neapolitan pizzeria is de rigueur when in town. Head to Pizzaria La Notizia in upmarket Vomero, Michelin-recommended L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele or 50 Kalò di Ciro Salvo by the sea in Mergellina.
Naples Cooking Classes
If you want to learn how to make pizza dough the Neapolitan way or produce pasta like mamma used to make, there are plenty of cooking classes in Naples that will show you the southern Italian way. Check them out here.
Top NAples food festivals
According to the official website, this Naples food festival was named the world’s number one. Running for over a decade, this pizza fest apparently attracts over a million visitors per year. Held in Caracciolo by the waterfront, the PizzaVillage brand is now branching out worldwide to New York, London, Dubai and Milan. Find out more about the latest events here.
Visit a Naples Food Market
This bustling market is Naples’ biggest and best - and a must for foodies. It’s a great place to snap up deli-style snacks such as the authentic Neapolitan delicacies sold at Ai Monti Lattari. It’s best to arrive hungry so you can graze your way around, sampling, smelling and savoring the sight of home baked bread, the freshest seafood and the juiciest, reddest tomatoes ever.
Best Restaurants in Naples Italy
A clutch of accolades have been bestowed upon the best restaurants in and around Naples, Italy. Whether you opt for Veritas in the city or head to one of several coastal eateries along the coastline, there’s plenty of culinary magic just waiting to be experienced. And don’t feel bad if your Italian is a bit lacking — our handy guide to ordering food in Italian and other phrases you might need will come in handy!
Must-Try Restaurants in Naples
Quattro Passi - Michelin (⭑⭑)
On the Amalfi coast in Marina del Cantone near Naples is Quattro Passi, a Mediterranean style restaurant that also holds two Michelin stars. Given the location, it’s hardly surprising that seafood, tomatoes and lemons are showcased here, made into dishes like shrimp risotto or monkfish ravioli. Dine on the bougainvillea adorned terrace if you can, surrounded by fragrant olive trees.
Don Alfonso 1890 - Michelin (⭑⭑)
You’ll have to take a slight detour from the city to the small town of Sant’Agata near Sorrento in order to visit this starry eatery, but it’s well worth the trip. This family-run restaurant by the Bay of Naples takes ingredients grown on their own land, and turns their produce into the refined cuisine that’s awarded them two Michelin stars. The elegant interior at Don Alfonso is open to the kitchen so you can watch their culinary team in action.
Be sure you check out the ancient caves that house their extraordinary wine cellar — it dates back countless centuries, and you can see it before your dinner.
Taverna del Capitano - Michelin (⭑)
Also in Marina del Cantone is Taverna del Capitano. This Michelin starred establishment is where you’ll find Campania’s top female sommelier, so you can expect top notch wines from the award-winning cellar as well as delicious dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. Traditional dishes form the backbone of the menu, though these are made with flair and reflect more than a dash of culinary creativity.
Palazzo Petrucci - Michelin (⭑)
Palazzo Petrucci boasts not only Michelin starred cooking but also sublime views across the Bay of Naples and towards Mount Vesuvius, giving diners an authentic sense of place. Adventurous types can go for the ‘Lino fai tu’ option, thus giving the chef free rein regarding what to bring to your table. In a smart 1500s building, Palazzo Petrucci is positioned on Piazza San Domenico, one of the city’s prettiest squares.
Veritas - Michelin (⭑)
If you want to stay in the city for your Michelin-starred dining experience, look no further than Veritas. The restaurant has a casual yet elegant ambience, forming the backdrop for the chef’s modern takes on traditional Neapolitan fare. Those who’ve visited rave about the service as well as the photogenic dishes that are filled with mouthwatering flavours. The tasting menu with wine pairing is recommended for a rounded experience.
Try These Traditional Foods
Regional Foods of Naples Italy
Often sold as Tarallini in grocery stores outside of Italy, Taralli is a popular Neapolitan baked snack that can be sweet or — more often — savory. The texture is crunchy, akin to that of a pretzel or breadstick, and they are ring-shaped like donuts or bagels. These small snacks are ideal to nibble on with drinks, and can be sampled all over the city at bars, markets and more.
Fairly similar in flavor to Provolone, Caciocavallo can be made with milk from cows or sheep. Like Provola affumicata, this southern Italian cheese is shaped like a pear due to the way it is hung for ripening.
Tortano is also a bread-based local specialty filled with goodies. The Torte or Tortano is typically a ring of dough stuffed with pork, mortadella and fontina cheeses, hard boiled eggs and salami. Ai Monti Lattari at Pignasecca market is a great place to try a Neapolitan family version of this recipe that’s often eaten to celebrate Easter.
Fior di Latte Mozzarella
Mozzarella is synonymous with Italian cuisine and the Naples version is made with cow’s milk rather than buffalo. The fresh, semi-soft cheese is made in the same way as traditional Italian mozzarella.
If there is one iconic pastry you have to try in Naples and Campania, it’s the sfogliatelle. It was invented here, after all! And while the name may be hard to say (Italians pronounce it sfoo-ya-del), it goes down much easier especially with a morning cappucino.
The pastry itself looks like a flaky clam, and can come in minis or a larger clam size. The layers of crispy dough open up from the toasty heat, revealing layers of sweet ricotta cheese tucked deep inside. And if you ever have the chance to see how sfogliatelle is made, it’s pretty amazing. If you haven’t, just try unraveling one and you’ll get a pretty good idea of the love that goes into making it. Yum!!
Provola Affumicata Cheese
Provola Affumicata is an Italian cheese made by using a traditional spun-paste method before ripening. This results in a semi-hard texture and a sweet, subtly smoky flavor. It can be broiled before eating, or enjoyed just as it is.
Traditional Dishes of Naples Italy
Pasta Alla Genovese
Even the most dedicated foodie would be forgiven for thinking that this dish comes from Genoa, but it's actually a Neapolitan staple. Typically this thick pasta sauce contains beef and pork, a ton of slowly cooked onions and tomatoes and is topped with cheese. The meat and onion mixture is then slowly stewed until the flavors meld into one, making the perfect sauce over cut Ziti pasta. It’s the Neapolitan take on an Italian ragu, if you will, and like nothing else in Italy.
Eat Street Food in Naples
Frittatine di Pasta
These Neapolitan pasta fritters are rounds made from pasta, ham, peas, and bechamel sauce that is dipped into a flour batter before frying. Not the most nutritious street food in Naples, Italy perhaps, but very moreish indeed.
Crocchè di Patate
Another typical street food found in southern Italy is the local take on the croquette. The Naples version contains mashed potato, egg and cheese. These little goodies are coated in golden breadcrumbs before being deep fried.
Pizza a Portafoglio
If there’s one street food you have to eat in Naples, it’s pizza a portafoglio. This folded pizza is both a local icon and ideal for eating while on the go. The fact that it’s shaped like a wallet is the very reason for the name, as that’s the actual translation. Typically baked in a wood-fired oven, this Naples staple is cheap, tasty and - in fast food terms at least - relatively healthy too.
Regional Wines to Sip in Naples
Greco di Tufo
This elegant white wine is a specialty of southern Italy’s Campania wine region. In a region packed with DOCG wine zones, this is one of the finest tipples to be found. With aromas of citrus, herbs and spices, this wine is darker in color than most whites. The best examples display a minerality that is down to the volcanic subsoil of the area.
Fiano di Avellino
Made from the local Fiano grape, Fiano di Avellino is a lighter colored wine with a floral, spicy nose. Along with Greco di Tufo, this is one of the Campania wine region’s finest creations. While there is a sweeter version, it’s the drier white that boasts DOCG status.
Which Foodie Things Will You Do in Naples?
Whether it’s dining at a doubly Michelin starred restaurant overlooking the Bay of Naples or grabbing a bite of street food on the go, Naples has lots to offer the traveler who’s serious about what they eat.
Experiencing the sights, smells and flavors of the local food and wine scene can really help to round out your Neapolitan vacation, making sure you live La Dolce Vita during your stay.