From the rich and gritty culture of Napoli have emerged many of Italy’s culinary masterpieces. The city’s coastal location means that is has delicious, fresh seafood on its doorstep. Many of the neighbouring towns of Calabria have offered up delights of their own, such as a tasty gnocchi dish from Sorrento, a tricolore salad from Capri and a citrus-sweet dessert using the Amalfi lemons. Discover Napoli through your stomachs with the following foods and dishes:
Napoli is the birthplace of pizza and the pizza Napoletana is completely unique. An ultra thin base with a thick and bready outside crust. The original pizza, created for the Queen consort, Margherita of Savoy, is the margherita, topped with marinara sauce, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. Using the best ingredients available, simplicity couldn’t be any tastier than this.
Take that classic Neapolitan pizza, stuff it with extra cheese, fold it in half and deep-fry it in oil. Eccolo, the panzerotto.
These are another deep-fried treat – savoury dough fritters, often stuffed with pancetta, Parmesan and herbs.
Think of this as a risotto pie. Rice is flavoured with a rich tomato sauce, and sometimes even a meat ragù, then pressed into a deep mould to create a rice ‘crust’. It is then filled with meat, vegetables and cheese before finally pressing rice over the top to enclose these fillings. Once baked, it retains its shape – an impressive and dramatic dinner party piece.
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Alla Sorrentina means “in the style of Sorrento”; a city neighbouring Napoli on Amalfi coast. Potato gnocchi are mixed with a tomato and basil sauce, topped with pecorino and mozzarella and baked in an oven until bubbling and oozing with stretchy cheese.
Italian meatballs, with variations found across Italy, depending on the region. Classic polpette are made from ground beef or veal flavoured with various herbs and then fried in olive oil or baked in the oven. Although nowadays, meatballs cooked in a tomato sauce and served with pasta is a popular dish, traditionally polpette were eaten as they were, without any sauce or topping, as a snack or second course.
Ragù alla Napoletana
A tomato meat sauce, not to be confused with the Bolognese sauce. A Bolognese sauce used finely chopped or ground meat, while the Neapolitan meat sauce used whole pieces of tender, stewed meat. An authentic Bolognese also used no herbs, while the ragù alla Napoletana is prepared with lots of basil, garlic, shallots, red wine and olive oil. In the south of Italy, this dish is often eaten for Sunday lunch, served over pasta.
Cozze alla Marinara
A simple, fast and flavoursome seafood dish, making great use of the fresh mussels available at this coastal city. The mussels are cooked in a simple marinara sauce with plenty of garlic, olive oil and herbs and can be eaten as an antipasti or a main course.
Mozzarella di bufala
Buffalo mozzarella has a much more pungent and slightly ‘tangy’ flavour that regular mozzarella. It is also much more soft and creamy – once cut, you’ll need to eat the lot as the juices begin to seep out of the curd.
Mozzarella in Carrozza
Mozzarella holds its shape well and has a higher melting point than other cheeses, meaning that it is perfect for deep-frying in breadcrumbs. You’ll get an oozy, stringy centre, but the cheese won’t completely disintegrate.
From the seaside town of Capri comes a salad inspired by the Italian flag; bright green basil, white mozzarella and radiant red tomatoes. A little seasoning and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil is all it needs.
And of course you’ll need to try the sweets:
Sfogliatella means “small, thin leaf”, a description of this shell-shaped pastry’s characteristic crispy layers. This Campanian pastry is filled; most commonly with either frangipane or orange-flavoured ricotta.
A celebrations cake baked at Easter time and said to symbolise the Resurrection of Christ. A pastry crust and lattice top filled with a ricotta cheese pastry cream perfumed with orange flower water and candied peel and dusted with icing sugar.
A small yeasted cake, saturated with rum and often filled with whipped cream or pastry cream.
A smooth and rich flourless chocolate and almond (or something walnut) torte from the island of Capri.
Delizie al Limone
Lemons are used in a great majority of dishes originating from the Amalfi area of Campania, just around the corner from Napoli. This cake was invented by famous Amalfian pasticcere, Carmine Marzuillo, in 1978 and can now be found in every bakery in the region. These “lemon delights” are mini sponge cakes filled and coated with a smooth, zesty lemon custard.
Torta Ricotta e Pera
Two rounds of crunchy biscotti, sandwiched with a ricotta and pear filling. Bakeries in the Amalfi region often use local tangy sheep’s milk ricotta.