I left the comfort of Madrid for a few days on a whim and a gut instinct that I had to get out of town. Italy was on my radar and Naples, or Napoli, intrigued me - the chaos, the mafia, the FOOD. It seems many tourists skip this seaside hot-spot for the safer and more "Italian" side of Italy. It's true, down here in the south, the rules change and things become a lot different. Alas, the salty, fresh and sweet temptations were enough to convince me that this place is worth the trip. The Neapolitan pizza had me at hello...and the sweets had me right up until the airport gate.
The sweets of southern Italy are indeed numerous, the history of pastries and confectionary, or to say the patisserie tradition a complex and honored one - sfogliatella, baba, cannoli siciliani; you might as well be blindfolded and dull of smell to not notice their impact on a Neapolitan's daily life. Like what I've seen in France, the southern Italians are not afraid to show off their passion for food, they proudly munch on desserts or chomp on pizza slices in the middle of hectic streets or on the back of motorbikes. Whereas, the Spanish are rather private about their eating habits, tucking into a bar, entering a restaurant, or going home at meal time, almost never will you see a Spaniard eating on the run. But as they say, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do," therefore when in Naples, eat as the Neapolitans - you won't be disappointed.
Two varieties of this pastry product can be found in Napoli, sfogiatelle riccia and sfogiatelle frolla. The latter is less labor intensive, but generally all will be filled with some version of a sweet ricotta filling, laced with orange flavors or speckled with candied citrus pieces. In a few that I tasted I noted hints of spices, cinnamon, clove, etc. Try to get them hot. You'll notice that some are greasier than others, some less cheesy or less citrus-y, it's really a matter of personal preference, so you'll have to try them all to pick your favorite!
La sfogliatella frolla
The frolla dissected to reveal the warm cheesy interior
Where to go for sfogliatelle in Naples:
Piazza San Domenico Maggiore 19
A crowd gathers for the famous treats and sfogliatelle of Scaturchio
Flaky, spiced, not overly greasy, my pick for the best sfogliatella riccia in Napoli, Italy. Priced around 1.5-2 euros.
Then make your way into the beautiful and impressive 19th century Galleria Umberto I for another sfogliatella worthy of its praise.
La Sfogliatella Mary
Via Toledo 66, Galleria Umberto 1
Tuesday - Saturday 8:00-20:30
Rush hour, or common traffic at La Sfogliatella Mary. I waited about 15 minutes for mine.
You won't have to venture far to sample the next treat, turning right out of the Galleria, head up Via Toledo until you spot the marble facade of Pintauro.
Via Toledo 275
District: San Ferdinando
Pintauro's front entrance on Napoli's busy shopping street of Via Toledo
Plenty of sfogliatelle - served warm with powdered sugar on top and a milder orange taste, however a bit greasier. I also had some success with their other typical cookies and chocolate dipped biscuits.
Another popular sfogliatelle hangouts, which some call the best pastry in Napoli:
Vico Ferrovia 3
80142 Naples, Italy
Other days: 6:30am-7:30pm
Antica Cioccolateria Sas Di Clelia Parlato - Beautiful architecture at this chocolate shop, friendly staff (at least on my visit) and reasonable prices per kilo of bon-bons and truffles.
Via Chiaia 237
80132 Naples, Italy
Or try your luck at:
Antica Cioccolateria Napoletana Srl
Via dell'Epomeo 280
80126 Naples, Italy
+39 081 728 4167
In my humble opinion you really can't go wrong in Italy...just keep your eyes peeled for the ones specializing in gelato, that have fresh ingredients within a bird's eye view, and that appear to make their batches in-house.
Where to go for gelato in Napoli:
Piazza Cosimo Fanago 118
80129 Naples, Italy
+39 081 1981 0303
Gran Bar Riviera
Riviera di Chiaia 181
80122 Naples, Italy
+39 081 665 026
Gelateria Della Scimmia - Original location since 1934
Piazza Carità 4
80134 Napoli, Italy
+39 081 552 0272
CoffeeJust as we learned from the French about baguettes, brie and croissants and readily included them in our daily vocabulary, Italy has provided us with its fair share of valuable jargon. Thankfully due to this cultural influence (even if Starbucks did gentrify it), there is no need to get out your phrase book. Caffè Americano, mocha, caffè macchiato, caffé latte are household names these days. But whichever one you order, you are almost guaranteed for a delicious cup of Joe, and a strong one at that. For a complete guide to Italian coffees, visit Sarah Rosso's site, Ms Adventures in Italy.
Latte Macchiato, milk "stained" with espresso served in a taller cup than a cappuccino
This can be confusing as there are two cafes named "Professore" in Napoli, so make sure you go to il Vero - the original!
Il Vero Bar's famous caffè alla nocciola, an espresso topped with hazelnut cream served in a short ice cream cone covered in chocolate (coffee available by glass year-round, cones in the winter only as they would melt in the high summer temperatures).
Where to go for coffee in Napoli (Naples):
Piazza Trieste e Trento
Neighborhood: San Ferdinando
Gambrinus - all the guidebooks mention this swank & classic coffee bar/cafe, so keep that in mind
Via Chiaia 1
80132 Naples, Italy
Via San Pascuale 21
The Cannolo, cannoli in plural, a Sicilian delicacy, but easy to find in Naples
Assorted goodies from Scaturchio...mmmm can't go wrong
Fruit cakes and baba cake in the background (a sweet rum infused Southern delicacy)
Chocolaty-rum breakfast pastry.
Have you also found the charm that is Naples? What were your favorite treats?
See also Part 1, for my top Neapolitan Pizza recommendations in Naples, Italy. And please be sure to follow my travel and eating adventures on Facebook.