From a lunchtime slice to the perfect sleepover takeaway, the humble pizza is fast, easy, and delicious. But the pizza we know and love today has its roots in 19th century Naples, where the skill and art of traditional pizza-making has been nurtured for over 200 years. If you’re visiting Naples and want to skip the trial and error of finding the perfect slice amongst more than 800 pizzerias in the city (even though the worst pizza in Naples is probably better than most pizza anywhere else in the world!), we’ve compiled a list of our undeniably favorite pizzerias in the birthplace of the iconic dish.
The name of this pizzeria, a combination of pizzaiolo slang and the local Neapolitan dialect, translates roughly to ‘good mixture’. The owner, Ciro Salvo, sources his fresh and flavorful ingredients from the top local producers to create modern dishes with strong traditional roots, reflecting his family heritage in the pizza industry. The pizzas themselves are enormous, so there’s plenty to share (or not if you’re very hungry from a day of Neopolitan sight-seeing). Do be aware that the menu is in Italian, so sharpen up your Italian vocabulary or go with an Italian-speaking friend. Any confusion over the menu is worth it: the chewy dough has the perfect amount of cheese and sauce in each bite, and you can order both traditional pizzas and seasonal specials. The queues for 50 Kalò can be long, so get there for lunch by noon, or for dinner before 6 pm or after 9 pm.
We the Margharita Bufala, which comes covered in fresh local buffalo mozzarella and with a small wine selection.
The young pizzaiolo Ciro Oliva runs the restaurant, which has been in the family for nearly 70 years, with each generation updating the menu and ambiance while retaining its traditional soul. Local art is displayed throughout the shop, from the walls to the handcrafted spoon rest. Artisanal ingredients top the deliciously wood-fired pizza dough, and while there are of course traditional offerings such as Marinara and Margherita, there are also creative seasonal specialties, as well as the local fried pizza, or “pizza fritta”. Make sure to arrive early to avoid a long wait, as Concettina ai Tre Santi is a local hot-spot.
We the “Annarella” – pizza dough buns with a delectable filling of Provola cheese, cured ham, and three (!) different preparations of artichoke.
There are two establishments of La Notizia in Naples, founded by Enzo Coccia, a pizzaiolo and world-renowned pizza expert. The original is a bit of a hike up the hill in Vomero, but completely worth it, not just for the excellent pizza made with fresh Campanian ingredients, but also the calzones. Delicious pockets of local meat and ricotta cheese, these are an essential accompaniment to the pizzas, which come topped with the largest leaves of basil we’ve ever seen. This tiny establishment is always crammed, and Enzo Coccia himself can often be found waltzing between customers to deliver pizzas from the tiny kitchen’s domed brick oven.
We the funghi pizza, made with fresh local mushrooms and pecorino.
Right in the center of Naples is Gino Sorbillo, one of the most popular and crowded pizzerias in Naples. Unsurprisingly, given its excellent location and low prices, it can be quite a long wait for a table. As is common with Italian pizzerias, if you do have a table, the waiters may encourage you not to linger to make room for the next customers. However, Gino Sorbillo also does takeaway which can often be quicker, and we recommend taking your pizzas down the street to Piazza Vincenzo Bellini and eating outside in the sunny square. For a sit-down meal, Gino Sorbillo also has a location at Via Partenope (Gino Sorbillo Lievito Madre al Mare) where you can eat outside, with stunning ocean views over the Bay of Naples.
We the pizza with deliciously salty anchovies.
The best food in any city is usually the one recommended by locals, and every Napolitano we spoke to recommended Starita a Materdei. A steep walk up a hill to the Materdei neighborhood, this restaurant has been a local institution since 1901. It was featured in the 1954 Vittorio De Sica film L’Oro di Napoli starring Sophia Loren and has recently branched out to a location in New York City, in addition to its restaurants in Turin and Milan. The menu has a full variety of classic pizzas to choose from. Arrive before 7 pm to guarantee a seat.
We the deep-red Marinara pizza, topped with local Pomodoros.
Of course, no list of Naples pizzerias would be complete without a mention of the famous Antica Pizzeria da Michele. With a still of Julia Roberts hanging on the wall to encourage you to ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (the restaurant was featured in the 2010 film) and the hordes of tourists who have been introduced to da Michele from its global media coverage and franchises in London and Hollywood, it would be easy to dismiss this 150-year-old pizzeria as a tourist trap. Don’t pass this up! While the menu has only two options, Margherita and Marinara, the sauce is bright, herby, and flavorful; the dough is soft and pillowy; the cheese is deliciously creamy. The price is decently low, and we recommend arriving early to avoid the hungry queues that often stretch down Via Cesare Sersale.
We both Margherita and Marinara, we can’t choose!