There’s a lot more than pizza in Naples but, come on, let’s be honest with each other and let’s just admit that a trip to Naples can’t be said to be complete if you don’t eat at least one pizza here. Naples is the mount Olympus of pizza, the origin of what was destined to become the most famous food in the whole world. Eating a pizza in Naples is not one of those must-see/must-do things that many experienced travellers deem too touristy. Whether you’re a pizza lover or not, eating a pizza in Naples is mandatory.
Even though pizza as the majority of people on this planet knows it is the American-style pizza, the original pizza is the one made in Naples. Legend has it that pizza margherita was invented by Raffaele Esposito in 1889 to honour Margherita of Savoy, queen of Italy at the time. According to some researchers, pizza was invented in Naples well before 1889 and the “original” pizza was what we call marinara (marinara sauce, oregano and garlic).
Recently listed as Unesco World Heritage, Naples pizza-making follows strict rules and includes different schools. As a matter of fact, Naples is the mecca for every pizza maker who wants to learn the original way of making this delicious food. There are many schools dedicated to train Italian and foreigner pizza makers because the crux of pizza making is preparing the right dough and you really need to learn a lot of stuff to make a good pizza dough.
So pizza here is a serious, delicious business. For us travellers, though, eating out in a pizzeria (pizza place) is also the best and fun way to merge with the local culture. Pizzerie (pizza places) are not tourists traps but places where locals go to regularly. Waiting in line to be seated might sound annoying but it’s a perfect way to understand locals’ manners and way of life. There are a couple of “very local things” you might want to know about eating pizza in Naples. Let’s see how many of them you can spot!
New to the joys that Naples can offer? Check my guide to Naples 5 favourite top picks!
1. We eat one pizza per person. We share pizzas only equally, meaning that if I give you one of my slices you have to give me one of yours. Of course this is not a rule but it’s very common. I, for instance, have never gone out to a pizzeria to have one pizza for two. To me it’s quite unthinkable to do such a thing! Give me my whole pizza!
2. We don’t have pizza sizes. There’s only one size for pizza and it depends on the way the pizza maker makes his (it’s usually men, unfortunately) pizza. In Naples pizza tend to be quite big, so be prepared for a shock. You could ask to have a smaller one, but I’ve never ever heard anybody saying they want a smaller pizza. Why would anyone in their right mind ask for such a thing?
Handy tip: Naples metro system seems a mystery of its own? Read my guide to Naples metro system to solve the enigma!
3. You can eat pizza with hands. Don’t listen to people preaching that here is Italy we eat pizza with knife and fork. Yes, we also do that but nobody will judge you at all if you use your hands. It’s okay. This really depends on you, but don’t be embarrassed to eat with your hands if you want, it’s perfectly normal. You choose. Truth be told, pizza in Naples is quite thin so it’s not easy eating it with your hands. I start with the fork and then, by the time I approach the cornicione (crust) I stop because I think that eating pizza with hands is the best thing about eating pizza in the first place. You just take one slice, fold it and eat it.
4. There are no pre-cut slices. You have to cut the pizza yourself with your fork and knife. The usual way to cut a pizza is by cutting it in half vertically and then horizontally (or viceversa) so that you have 4 slices. If the pizza is too big and this can’t be done, just cut one slice at a time. Personal advice: don’t start eating pizza by the crust! The crust is the best part of the pizza (to me) and should be enjoyed at the end.
5. You can eat pizza any time of the frigging day in Naples. But (and this is a big but) this is especially true for the pizza a portafoglio (wallet pizza = a smaller pizza that you can eat with hands while walking by folding it twice), the kind of pizza that you can eat from street-food vendors. If you want to eat pizza in a pizzeria remember that the best time to eat pizza (whether it’s for lunch or dinner) is a little bit after opening hours. Why? The oven reaches perfect temperature and pizzas are even better!
Ps: Naples has a lot to offer in terms of street food! If you happen to be a foodie and a street art lover you might want to check my little tour of street food and street art in Naples!
In Naples there are many historical pizza places. I present you here three must-go:
Antica Pizzeria Da Michele
You’ll have to wait a while in queue but believe me when I tell you that the moment your pizza arrives you’ll be fully rewarded!
Stay tuned if you want to know more about the best places to eat pizza in Naples! There’ a lot more to come!