Where better to eat pizza than in the city where it was invented? Naples’ most affordable food is also its most sacred; a local saying goes “you can insult my mother but never my pizzamaker”. You can’t come to the city without trying an authentic crusty pizza, baked rapidly in a searingly hot wood-fired oven and doused in olive oil.
The archetypal Neapolitan pizza is the marinara – not, as you might think, anything to do with seafood, but topped with just tomato, garlic and basil, no cheese. The simplest toppings tend to be the best – margherita (with tomatoes and cheese), or perhaps salsiccia e friarelli (sausage and local bitter greens).
From the new Rough Guide to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, these are our top six places for the best pizza in Naples.
Opened by the Acunzo family in 1936, and owned by Michele and Caterina since 1964, this low-key trattoria has a bustling atmosphere and friendly staff. It’s not very well-known to tourists, and it’s definitely Vomero’s best pizza joint. Locals crowd into its spartan interior for the wonderful pizza, available in more than forty varieties, best enjoyed after a plentiful serving of fritti or their excellent parmigiana melanzane.
Acunzo, Via d. Cimarosa 60–62
In business since 1935, this place has a die-hard cult following that snubs the family’s newer pizza joint a few doors down in favour of this, the original. Yes, it’s always got a mob of tourists outside, but this might be the one place that’s worth the wait. Its popularity means that it’s a scrum most nights and you may have to give your name and wait for a table. But the pizzas are great, and use the highest-quality ingredients – the best mozzarella from nearby Agerola, sweet Vesuvian tomatoes and fine olive oil: a novel idea in the pizza business.
Sorbillo, Via d. Tribunali 32
Right in the heart of the Centro Storico, I Decumani is not quite as widely lauded as its better-known competitors, but definitely among the best pizzas in the city. Freshly remodelled and warmly tiled, the pizzeria has come a long way since it was a hole-in-the-wall friggitoria (still active next door). The fritti misti are a must, as are the huge, delicious pizzas. It’s also one of the few places in the Centro Storico open on Sundays.
I Decumani, Via d. Tribunali 58–61 (no website)
Tucked away off Corso Umberto I in the Forcella district, this is the most determinedly traditional of all the Naples pizzerias, though has now become so well-known you’ll most likely find yourself surrounded by other tourists. Da Michele serves just two varieties – marinara and margherita – for about €4. Don’t be surprised if you are shuttled to a communal, marble-topped table and seated with strangers; don’t arrive late, as they sometimes run out of dough.
Da Michele, Via Cesare Sersale 1–3
Antica Pizzeria del Borgo Orefici
Down a little side street just off busy Corso Umberto, not far from the port, you can enjoy some of the city’s best pizza at this little-known joint with a handful of tables inside, and a little terrace outside. The very large pizzas more than make up for the lack of ambience; the salsiccia e friarielli is delicious.
Antica Pizzeria del Borgo Orefici, Luigi Palmieri 13 (no website)
Starita a Materdei
The Starita family has been serving pizza and fritti in the Materdei neighbourhood, uphill from the Museo Archeologico, since 1901, and along the way have created unique classics like the montarana, pizza dough that is deep-fried before being garnished with tomato and cheese then baked. For dessert, try the angioletti, deep-fried dough slathered in Nutella. It’s popular, and although the long main room seems to absorb people you may have a bit of a wait.
Starita a Materdei, Via Materdei 27–28
In the heart of Borgo Santa Lucia, this casual and lively neighbourhood restaurant is famous for its pagnotielli – sort of pizza sandwiches stuffed to bursting with mozzarella, ham and mushrooms, or salsicce and friarelli. Above all they offer good quality and value in a neighbourhood not especially known for either.
Da Ettore, Via Santa Lucia (no website)
Not a restaurant, but a festival, Pizzafest is a ten-day event held for over ten years in the Mostra d’Oltremare showground in Fuorigrotta. It celebrates Naples’ most famous gift to the world, with food stalls, demonstrations and plenty of cheesy entertainment.
Pizzafest is held over two weeks in mid September; see pizzafest.info for more information.