What We Ate in Naples

  • Ciao Pizza: We were hungry at the vastly inconvenient hour of 3:30 pm. After trying several places and finding them either completely full or closing up shop until dinner, we found this place on Yelp. It had four stars, so we decided to go for it. Turns out that it was a take-out stand, of the sort that we have in SF; I find their pizza to taste much like plastic. However, this pizza did not. Perhaps it’s because they made a fresh pie for us, so it was right out of the oven. Though, B also got a stand-alone piece from their display case – and while it looked a bit sad under there, they warmed up it up in an oven, not a microwave, which likely helped. We got the standard margherita pizza, which in Italy is pretty much a mozzarella cheese pizza. While I wouldn’t say that it was mind-blowing, it was good enough – and our full pizza and extra slice were €10 total. Holding Di Matteo PizzaDid I mention that we ate it sitting cross-legged on the cobblestones in a plaza, while people-watching?
  • Di Matteo: This was our attempt to get ‘pizza verace Napoletana,’ or the Naples-certified Real Deal™. While this wasn’t one of the two top pizza places in the city, it was up there – and significantly closer than the other two. At first, we thought it too might be a stand only, as we couldn’t see past the front counter and ovens. However, inside, there were two floors of small tables with paper tablecloths, plastic cups for beer or soda, and medium-sized pies. B ordered the boscaiola, with peas, meat, oil, garlic, and spices, while I had a margherita pizza with mushrooms. I know that I will scandalize my three readers by saying this, but I was not very impressed. The tomato sauce was nice, I thought: rich and not at all bland. However, overall, it was nothing special. I probably just do not understand pizza. B said it was probably the best pizza he had in Italy, though not the best ever. Sorry to disappoint! Maybe if we had gone to La Notizia?
  • Leopoldo [Bakery]: We tried the famous Neapolitan sfoglietella at this popular Naples pastry chain. That’s a pastry made of phyllo dough, with a lemony ricotta filling. (That’s the more popular/default version, also called sfoglietella riccia or just riccia.) B was a fan, but I could take it or leave it.
  • Cuori Sfogliatella [Bakery]: Despite this place’s name, no sfoglietella was purchased here. Instead, this was my attempt to try all of the Neapolitan dessert specials that I had heretofore missed out on. So, I got a mini cannolo (the singular of cannoli), which is actually Sicilian and not from Naples; that said, it didn’t disappoint. Then, I got a biscotto (which means cookie) amarena, which looks like a poppy seed-filled roll-up, but tastes like liquor; neither of us was into it. Third was a caprese cake – meaning that it’s from Capri, which is right nearby. It was pretty much a really good brownie, with powdered sugar on top, so that was my lunch. Finally, I got a Vesuviana, which looked like Mount Vesuvius, but tasted like a sfogliatella, with a partial chocolate coating. We did not get the cassata, which is their version of fruit cake, because it pretty much just came in the giant cake size, and – well, it’s fruit cake.

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