We think it’s safe to say that if you’re planning a trip to Naples, Italy, you’re also probably planning on eating a lot of pizza during your visit. Because, it is the birthplace of pizza after all, right? And now you’re looking all over the interwebs for a tidy list of the best pizzerias in Naples.
We, like many others, did the same before our trip there and are here to help with a little list of our own.
Who Makes The Best Pizza In Naples?
The good news is you will be hard pressed to find a bad pizza in Naples. The bad news is if pizza’s your favorite food like it is Stephen’s, you’re probably not going to be able to try ALL of the pizza in your time there.
What’s tricky about suggesting “the best” pizzerias in Naples, is that they all have to follow very strict and specific international regulations to be qualified as a legit Neapolitan pizza. And not just in Naples, this applies worldwide! So, with all of them using the same ingredients and methods of cooking, the differences between each (at least to our untrained palettes) is so slight that it’s nearly impossible to put a finger on. But the differences somehow exist, and that’s the fun of it all. Over and over we found ourselves saying things like “I don’t know what it is, but… “
What Makes It Neapolitan Pizza?
While we are certainly not experts, here are the general regulations for an authentic Neapolitan pizza. A pizza must be no more than 35 cm in diameter, with a raised edge (“cornicione”) which should be swollen and burn-free, thin in the center, and soft and fragrant. The dough is made with just water, flour, yeast and salt, is left to proof for a minimum of 8 hours, and is stretched only by hand. The other products used must preferably be from Campania: peeled tomato is crushed by hand and will be soupy and a bit chunky in consistency; buffalo mozzarella is chopped in slices; extra virgin olive oil is applied in a spiral motion; fresh basil leaves are added on top.
The pizzas must be cooked in a wood-fired oven, with no pan, for sixty to ninety seconds. The crust should be one to two centimeters high and no more than four millimeters thick in the center. Visually, the red of the tomato should stand out against the white of the mozzarella, blending with the oil and the green of the basil. It should have an intense yet balanced flavor, the aroma of the baked bread and the slightly acidic flavor of tomato will blend with the bitter and spicy tastes of oil and garlic (if used). Again, these are our “broad strokes” of what makes an official Neapolitan pizza. It goes deeper than this, but we’ll leave that to the experts.
Margherita and Marinara are the two primary, traditional Neapolitan pizzas. Many pizzerias only serve these two varieties. Other types are allowed, as long as they meet the regulations of the AVPN (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana).
Ok, you came for a list of the best pizza in Naples, so without further adieu, here are our picks!
Sorbillo was our favorite of all the pizzerias we visited. Again, can’t quite say exactly why, but there was just something about it. Between us we’ve not been able to settle on if it was the crust, the flavor of the oven… or what. We had close to a 2 hour wait until the restaurant re-opened for dinner. We were second in line, behind a group of Canadian tourists who we chatted and passed the time with.
There’s a fantastic story about Gino Sorbillo standing up to the mafia and not caving to their attempted shakedown for “protection” money. Even after his restaurant was bombed as a result, he kept slinging the pizzas by cooking right there on the street! Maybe it was that tenacity that we tasted.
2. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
An already very famous pizzzeria, but made even more so by the movie “Eat, Love, Pray” in which it was featured, L’antica Pizzeria da Michele served up an incredible pizza! Again, the differences are extremely slight, but this was our second favorite. An American location recently opened In our home of Los Angeles, and gave it a try not long before our trip to Naples. It was good, and ridiculously overpriced, but after visiting the O.G. in Naples, there was no comparison. You will be absolutely delighted with da Michele.
3. Pizzeria Starita
This one came in as our third fave, by just a hair, on our last day in Naples. We’d had our list of pizzerias that we wanted to try, but didn’t get to all of them. Starita was looking like it was going to be one of those that we’d have to miss, as it was a bit out of the way from our central base. But, on a whim we decided we needed one more pizza before leaving Italy and made the walk. Boy, were we glad we made it, because it was such a pleasant surprise! There was something about the flavor of the tomatoes that was so slightly different… we think? They even had a chocolate pizza dessert that we hardly had room for, but couldn’t pass up.
4. Dal Presidente
Formerly named Caciallis and one of the top pizzerias in Naples, Dal Presidente was re-named in 1994 after former President Bill Clinton paid a visit. There are actually two locations in Naples. We went to the one at Via Dei Tribunali, with the outdoor patio and a view of a Banksy in the wall right next to it! The pizza was fantastic, and we definitely recommend you keep it on your list.
5. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba
Born as a pizzeria in 1738 and founded in 1838 as a pizzeria and tavern with tables, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba is believed to be the first pizzeria in the world! Incidentally, it happened to be our first pizza in Naples, while walking around on our first day. There was a person set up outside Port’Alba slinging pizza portafoglio, a.k.a. “wallet” pizza. Portafoglio is a bit smaller than regular Neapolitan pizzas, and is folded into fours and served in a paper wrapper. Perfect for your on-the-go pizza fix. We did this one marinara style (no cheese) and it was freakin’ fabulous!
6. Da Attilio
Da Attilio is another spot that came up in many of our searches. And while some of the “more famous” pizzerias get a lot of the attention, Da Attilio is a long standing staple that serves as equally impressive a pizza as any other in town. Opened in 1938, they’ve got a few more options than some other establishments who only serve the two “traditional” types of pizzas, which we’ll get to in a sec. One example is their sun-shaped “Carnevale,” which has ricotta filling its eight points of crust. YUM!
7. 50 Kalo
And now, for something a little different – 50 Kalo. As we mentioned, traditionally, Neapolitan pizzas are one of two varieties: Margherita (crushed tomato, mozzarella, basil) or Marinara (no cheese). Since it was our first time visiting Naples, we decided to stick to those two traditional options to really get an authentic experience. But, if you do want to try Neapolitan pizza with really interesting toppings, 50 Kalo is your place. Newer than most of the pizzerias we’ve mentioned (c. 2014), Kalo uses carefully sourced ingredients like fior di latte from nearby Agerola, and pork from Caserta. But it’s not just about their toppings, or use thereof. It’s also about their dough, which consists of a special flour blend and slow fermentation process. Makes sense, as the name 50 Kalo loosely translates into “good dough.”
Know Before You Go
Some of these pizzerias will come with a bit of a wait to be seated, but don’t let that stop you! If you’ve got the patience we think it’s worth the wait. And if you don’t, walk a few feet and you’ll likely stumble onto another pizzeria that will more than satisfy! Because you’re in Naples, and how bad can any pizza possibly be? Our opinion is that even the “worst” will be great!
What Are Your Favorite Pizzerias In Naples?
The bottom line is that you simply cannot go wrong eating pizza in Naples. You can ignore this entire list and still be blown away with just about any pizza you happen upon – but we’d rather you take our advice on at least a few and let us know what you thought! And if you’ve already been, let us know what your favorites were below!
If all this pizza made you hungry for more eats from around the world, click these links for a taste of:
Now then… “mangiamo!