- Graziano Scaldaferri
Naples boasts one of the most delicious regional cuisines of all Italy, but the city’s food culture is finally widening its horizons to embrace international alternatives as well. In our updated guide to Naples’s best restaurants, we feature a few veritable institutions in the city’s dining and cultural scene along with relatively recent, exciting additions that demonstrate Naples’s developing international outlook.
Clu Coffee and Food
Clu is among the most cutting-edge restaurants in Naples, one that could compete with similar establishments of greater international capitals. Open all day long, come here for an English breakfast (but an Italian espresso!) or a delectable meal of local fare with a Mediterranean flair. The restaurant also features a bar that has made happy hour one of the best moments of the day to pay a visit here. With an open-view kitchen, eccentric lamps, a bistro-like layout and sophisticated finishings, Clu boasts a venue like no other in Naples, rising a cut above the homey look and feel of most of the city’s restaurants. The Chiaia neighbourhood, Naples’ fashionista heart where Clu is located, now has a restaurant to match.
Clu Coffee and Food, Via Carlo Poerio 47, Naples, Italy, +39 081 764 1576
Street food in Naples is heavy with deep-fried bites, and therefore not exactly healthy, but the city’s distinctive pastries are oh-so tremendously tasty that it is an arduous challenge to hold off and walk away. As if resisting weren’t hard enough, there are minuscule friggitorie (eateries specialising in fried food) tempting you at every turn with their packed displays of delicious croquettes, panzarotti, arancini, calzoni and frites. The Vomero neighbourhood, known for being the most refined and trendy area in Naples, is home to what is widely regarded to the best friggitoria in town, which responds to the simple name of Friggitoria Vomero.
Friggitoria Vomero, Via Domenico Cimarosa 44, Naples, Italy, +39 081 578 3130
Ask a Naples native advice for a chocolate treat and you will most likely be pointed in the direction of the closest of Gay Odin’s nine branches in Naples. The affectionate relationship between this chain of patisserie shops and the city of Naples began in the late 19th century, when chocolate artist Isidoro Odin, originally hailing from the North of Italy, moved here. Odin and his wife Onorina Gay, who joined him shortly thereafter, soon started spoiling the local population with artisanal pralines, bars and cakes, each one a superior work of sweet taste and chocolatey sculpture. The Gay Odin quality was preserved by following generations, and has kept its status as Naples’s best patisserie to this day.
Gay Odin, Vico Vetriera 12, Naples, Italy, +39 081 41 78 43
Gran Caffè Gambrinus
First established in 1860 right at the entrance of bustling street Via Chiaia, Gran Caffè Gambrinus maintains the imperial aura that many European cafés built in those years have in common. Boasting an opulent venue decorated in Liberty-style, Gambrinus, as it is simply referred to by locals, has seen prominent personalities of Italy’s culture, like poets Gabriele D’Annunzio and Benedetto Croce, take a seat here and debate the historical facts that were shaping the future of the Belpaese. Gambrinus offers excellent coffee as well as a range of other drinks, cakes and pastries. For other tried and tested cafés in Naples with superb coffee, watch out for the branches of the Caffè del Professore chain.
Gran Caffè Gambrinus, Piazza Trieste e Trento, Naples, Italy, +39 081 41 75 82
Japanese restaurant Jorudan Sushi welcomes guests in a quite small but charming dining room enveloped in a warm, intimate atmosphere. Naples certainly doesn’t lack fresh, quality fish, and Jorudan Sushi’s Japanese chef transforms the produce in excellent sushi, some of the best in town. In addition to the restaurant, Jorudan Sushi also has a branch in the scenic area of Posillipo, which only offers takeaway and home delivery services. Here, you are invited to craft your order from scratch, making your choice of sushi from the extensive menu, which is then handed or delivered to you in the restaurant’s signature black sushi box.
Jorudan Sushi, Salita Tasso 288, Naples, Italy, +39 081 640 564
Jorudan Sushi, Via Posillipo, 322, Naples, Italy, +39 081 0480 536
Naples shares with Spain, and especially with the Catalan city of Barcelona, the lively, rambunctious spirit that makes them super-fun destinations for cultural travellers everywhere. Gastro-bar Milagros celebrates in Naples the paella, a speciality of Spanish cooking hailing from the region of Valencia. Paella is a dish of rice lavishly topped with veggies, bits of meat and seasoning (but Milagros also offers the delectable seafood and all-vegetarian variants). On Thursdays, come here to taste the fideuà, yet another twist on the traditional paella where a type of pasta similar to spaghetti is used instead of rice, and topped with bits of fish; or feast on the tantalising spread of tapas, charcuterie and select cheeses.
Milagros Paella Gastrobar, Via Santa Maria in Portico 15, Naples, Italy, +39 081 032 0143
The queen pastry of local patisseries, the shell-shaped sfogliatella is a crispy, multi-layered roll stuffed with a sinful filling of ricotta and almond paste, topped off with a decorative sprinkle of icing sugar. Wherever you are in Naples, you won’t have to look long and hard before finding a café selling the heavenly sfogliatellas, but those baked by Pintauro are simply to die for. Located in Via Toledo, a central street best known and frequented for its quality shops, Pintauro is a hole-in-the-wall bakery cranking out nothing but delicious sfogliatellas since 1785. A landmark extending beyond the city’s dining scene and into the its cultural heritage, Pintauro’s pastries can be purchased only to go – no seating here – and make for an indulgent treat while doing your shopping or simply soaking up the beauty of Naples.
Pintauro, Via Toledo 275, Naples, Italy, +39 081 41 73 39
Restaurant Sartù derives its name from a finger-licking highlight of Naples’s traditional cooking. The sartù is a baked pie of rice mixed with peas, mushrooms, small meatballs, bits of cheese and chicken, and seasoned with ragù, a tomato-based sauce that is another specialty of the area. Sartù’s menu is firmly rooted in the local, authentic cuisine, but the chefs perform a modern, innovative take on typical dishes, elevating everyday staple to fine-dining levels. Sartù takes pride in utilising fresh, local ingredients only, directly sourced from the restaurant’s own garden whenever possible.
Sartù, Via S. Gennaro Al Vomero 13, Naples, Italy, +39 331 881 0666
Nowadays, pizza can be found nearly in every corner of the world, but the original, authentic pizza was born here in Naples, and this is still the city to come to for the best pizza in the entire world. Famed pizzeria Sorbillo offers some of the tastiest pizzas in town, traditionally baked in wood-fired ovens, larger than the plate it is served on and so thin that it melts irresistibly into your mouth. The variety of pizzas on offer is such that it will satisfy any palate, however every option features only ingredients typical of Italy’s gastronomy. There are many pizzerias in Naples vying for best pizza in town (like Di Matteo and Da Michele), but Sorbillo gets extra points for its location in the thick of the stunning historic centre. Factor in long queues and waiting time!
Sorbillo, Via dei Tribunali 32, Naples, Italy, +39 081 44 66 43
The City Pub
The latest descendant of a family of butchers, a few years ago Mario Tortora decided to make the most out of the family’s business core – the premium raw meats – adding a panini joint with a takeaway only service on the side of the butchery shop. It’s been a huge success ever since. At The City Pub, the succulent meats are grilled and served between fresh buns for a sumptuous panino. Patrons can choose between burger, sausage, chicken, lamb or chianina meats, accompanied by a variety of ingredients such as salad, tomatoes, mayo, mushrooms and provola cheese. This popular eatery also sells delicious snack bites like French fries, chicken wings, and several types of heavenly meatballs.
The City Pub, Viale Michelangelo 42, Naples, Italy, +39 081 556 0866
By Graziano Scaldaferri
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