There is a lot more than pizza in Naples but, let’s be honest - a trip to Naples can not be complete if you do not 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-do things that many experienced travellers deem too touristy. Whether you are a pizza lover or not, eating a Pizza Margherita in Naples is mandatory. If you want to learn how to do it like a local, check my ultimate guide to eating pizza in Naples.
Even though pizza as the majority of people knows it today 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 that train Italian and foreigner pizza makers because the crux of pizza making is to prepare the right dough, which is not so easy.
So, the pizza here is a serious, delicious business. For 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 is 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.
We share pizzas only equally, meaning that if I give you one of my slices, you have to provide me with one of yours. Of course, this is not a rule, but it is very common. I, for instance, have never gone out to a pizzeria to have one pizza for two. To me, itis quite unthinkable to do such a thing! Please give me my whole pizza!
There is only one size for a pizza, and it depends on the way the pizza maker makes his pizza. In Naples, the pizzas tend to be quite big, so be prepared for a shock. You could ask to have a smaller one, but I have never heard anybody saying they want a smaller pizza. Why would anyone in their right mind ask for such a thing?
Please do not listen to people preaching that here in 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 is okay. This really depends on you, but do not be embarrassed to eat with your hands, it is perfectly normal. Truth be told, pizza in Naples is quite thin, so it is not easy eating it with your hands. I start with the fork and then, by the time I approach the cornicione (crust), I switch to hands. 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.
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 vice versa) so that you have four slices. If the pizza is too big and this can not be done, just cut one slice at a time. Personal advice: do not start eating pizza by the crust! The crust is the best part of the pizza and should be enjoyed at the end.
This is especially true for the pizza a portafoglio (a smaller pizza that you can eat with hands while walking by folding it twice), the kind of pizza that you can buy from street-food vendors. If you want to eat pizza in a pizzeria, remember that the best time to eat pizza (whether it is for lunch or dinner) is a little bit after opening hours. Why? The oven reaches perfect temperature and pizzas are even better!
EXTRA TIP: 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!
This ultimate guide on eating pizza in Naples would not be complete without a list of my favorite pizzerias, where you can indulge in the best pizza in the city. In Naples, there are many historical pizza places. My top three suggestions would be Pizzeria Sorbillo, Antica Pizzeria Da Michele and Pizzeria Starita. Get ready to wait a while in a queue, but trust me when I tell you that the moment your pizza arrives, you will be fully rewarded. Buon appetito!
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