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Food and wine

Street food in Naples is the quintessence of wonders for the palate

17 October 2022

4 minutes

If one could designate one city in Italy as the king of street food, it would most definitely be Naples. Here, food reigns supreme on the table and beyond: it fills the streets, shops, cloisters and street stalls, offering unforgettable taste experiences.

Living the Italian way of life also means immersing oneself in culinary traditions and letting oneself be captivated by the most authentic ones. We discover the secrets, recipe by recipe, of the best street food in Naples.

1. The queen is transformed: here is the pizza a portafoglio and the pizza fritta

pizza portafoglio napoli

The Neapolitan pizza is undoubtedly the city's icon, so the Neapolitans have invented a way to carry it with them. The pizza a portafoglio (‘wallet pizza’) originated as a take-away pizza and is served folded, ready to eat while walking around the city. It can be found everywhere, and walking through the streets of Naples with a pizza a portafoglio in your hands is an unmissable experience, a genuine and full flavour.

Alternatively, there is the fried pizza. This is simple dough filled with tomato and mozzarella, but there are also more creative alternatives. And how is it cooked? Of course, it goes without saying, always in hot oil.

Get it from 1947 Pizza Fritta, just opposite the famous pizzeria Da Michele, or from Esterina Sorbillo, who has several outlets in the city, from Via dei Tribunali to Vomero. 

2. On one side the queen, on the other the king: presenting the cuoppo, the king of street food

cuoppo napoli

If pizza is the queen, cuoppo is the king of Neapolitan street food.

The small fried foods wrapped in a paper cone are perfect to eat while exploring the city. There is something for everyone, the only constant is that it is all deep-fried.

The classic cuoppo contains potato croquettes, salted zeppoline (a type of fried dough), fried sciurilli (battered zucchini flowers), mini arancini, fried polenta scraps and pasta fritters.

For those who prefer fish, the frittura di paranza is a must: it’s made with small fish and squid rings, accompanied by battered vegetables. The right place for a perfect cuoppo is the Friggitoria Vomero, an essential area to visit if you are passing through Naples.

3. The Neapolitan panino doesn't need a filling: it's already stuffed

panino alla napoletana napoli

The typical sandwich in Naples is called pagnottiello, and is made of dough flavoured with cheese, pancetta and salami.

You cannot say you have tasted the most authentic street food without having eaten one: greasy, delicious and gigantic. The address to take note of is the Antica Friggitoria Masardona.

A no less succulent alternative is the meatball sandwich with ragù. It may sound strange if you are used to only seeing ragù on pasta, but it is worth the experience. The place to go is Tandem.

4. Neapolitan taralli? Only with lard and pepper

taralli napoli

In Naples, taralli are the snack break par excellence. They are eaten at all hours, as a mid-morning snack, in the afternoon for a bite to eat and with an aperitif.

Their history dates back to the late 1700s when bakers began reusing leftover dough scraps by adding lard, pepper and almonds and then twisting them before baking.

The best places in town to taste them are the Tarallificio Leopoldo and the Taralleria Napoletana. The classic variant is the one with almonds, but there are all kinds.

5. Pasta and frying go well together: the pasta frittata

pasta e frittura napoli

It is the apotheosis of Neapolitan street food, bringing together the all-Italian tradition of pasta and Naples' passion for frying.

In a mini version, the frittatina di pasta is often found inside cuoppi, but to enjoy it at its best, the best advice is to buy one on its own; it’s roughly the size of a doughnut.

The most classic one can be found at Di Matteo's, while Giri di Pasta has reinvented it by offering it in many variations, all very tasty.

6. Zendraglie, because in Naples nothing is thrown away

le zendraglie napoli

In Naples, everything becomes a delicacy to be savoured while enjoying the flavours of food to the full. This also applies to offal, which is called zendraglie here.

The name dates back to Bourbon Naples, when the nobles would throw the offal of animals from their balconies to the poor, who would shout 'les entrailles!', from which the word zendraglie was derived.

They include: tripe, snout, cartilage, udders and the uterus of pigs and cattle.

To sample them, go to the Antica Tripperia O'Russo or Le Zendraglie in Pignasecca.

7. Dulcis in fundo and dulcis in street food: the best typical Neapolitan sweets

sfogliatelle

You can't say you've been to Naples without asking yourself the eternal dilemma: sfogliatella riccia or frolla? To dispel the doubt, you have to taste them both, several times.

Get them from Attanasio, near the station: he bakes them all the time and they are always warm and fragrant. Alternatively, go to Scaturchio's or Pintauro's.

The Neapolitan tradition, however, is really rich: drop by Carraturo for a babà and you must stop by Poppella, in Sanità, to taste the snowflake, a soft brioche filled with milk cream, cream and vanilla.

The capital of Campania holds the delicious promise of never letting its visitors go home with an empty stomach. Sweet or savoury, street food in Naples has only one rule: fried is better.

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