A stay in Naples comes fully loaded with the promise of pizza, and plenty of it. There are, of course, all manner of places to grab a slice – but what makes THIS Italian city the best place to run the very real risk of ending up in a pizza coma? Well, legend has it, this is THE birthplace of the Margherita pizza. We deliver the facts, find the best pizza in town and track down the pizzerias in Naples catering for celiacs, vegans and the plant-curious. All you need to do is pack your best forgiving garments and tuck in.
A slice of history
Though Italy is generally credited with inventing the pizza, mankind has been chomping on flatbreads – and toppings, since the ancient Egyptians were around. Though, as with any cuisine, civilisations have since made it their own – notably the Romans and Greeks who dabbled with a bit of focaccia here and there. The Greeks settled near Naples in 600BC – but it wasn’t until around the 17-1800s that pizza, as we know it today, started to spring forth from the pizza ovens. Very much a dish consumed by the city’s peasants, it was also an early form of street food. And it plodded on in Naples until one very momentous day. In 1889, Queen Margherita and King Umberto I stopped by. They’d apparently grown tired of fine dining and ordered pizzas from Pizzeria Brandi. The Queen’s favourite was pizza mozzarella – which, in her honour, was renamed the Margherita pizza.
For history loving foodies: Pizzeria Brandi
Let’s start with the spot where Naples most famous dish was allegedly born. Pizzeria Brandi is tucked away in the Spanish quarter of Naples and, other than a plaque outside with some dates on, there are few bells and whistles here. And, apart from a few well-read foodies, the tables are mostly occupied by locals. So far, so good. Except for one thing. Despite this pizzeria’s very grand and noble backstory, it doesn’t necessarily serve the best pizza in Naples. You’ll not have a bad meal here, and the chap strumming a guitar adds a little something, but you may well find there are better spots to sample slices in the city.
For dough lovers: 50 Kalò
According to critics, the best pizza in Naples can be found at 50 Kalò. And, really, who are we to argue when food experts start to really delve into leavening techniques? Thankfully, you don’t have to have done a stint on Masterchef to eat here. The premise is simple. A massive menu of options, including veggie and vegan pizzas, a more than ample wine list and speedy service. Though, it takes more than an efficient waiter to scale the ranks on the Naples pizza chart. Yes, the toppings are delicious here, but the foundations are doing all the legwork. Chef Ciro Salvo apparently ‘super hydrates’ his dough. Which might not sound impressive, but it’s certainly racking up the awards in his trophy room.
Orbzii tip: The pizza experts at 50TopPizza reckon 50 Kalò’s London location serves the best pizza in Europe. Pop in if you’re passing by.
For Celiacs: 10 Diego Vitagliano Pizzeria
Gluten intolerant folk needn’t stray too far down the list of restaurants serving the best pizza in Naples. 10 Diego Vitagliano Pizzeria casually breezes in and takes a spot in the top 20 pizzerias in Italy – and is among the Naples top 5. It should be said, while this isn’t an exclusively celiac-friendly restaurant, any gluten-free pizzas here are prepared and cooked separately – which should ease any contamination fears. Technical details aside, the menu’s a beauty. 18 gluten-free pizzas, and two starters are yours to choose from. Very much a local produce kind of place. Of all your gluten-free options, the Pistadella might be a classic, but it’s still the best.
For explorers: La Notizia 94
This is another Naples pizzeria that’s caught the attention of the Michelin Guide. You won’t find a Michelin star at La Notizia 94, or indeed anything much at all. Stark and minimalist is the order of the day – so cast aside any hopes of a cosy taverna. What you will find is a chef getting creative with his toppings. Most locals tend to stay true to the Margherita – but here, chef Enzo Coccia, is slinging your 5 a day your way. Asparagus, broad beans and aubergine sit proudly atop many of his flavour combos. And, he’s not afraid to dabble with a little truffle oil, when the mood’s right. The only downside, this restaurant’s not in the city centre, so you’re looking at a special trip to get a seat. On balance? It’s worth it.
For Vegans: L’antica Pizzeria da Michele
Plant-based eaters need to understand the Neapolitan approach to pizza before taking a seat here. In Naples, there really are only two pizzas locals will consider putting on their plate – a Margherita and a Margherita without cheese. Which is why these are the only two items you’ll see on the L’antica Pizzeria da Michele menu. No, really. It’s literally all they do. In any other restaurant, dough with marinara sauce spread on top would be deemed an insult to vegan cuisine. Here, it’s a wood-fired dish to be celebrated. Yes, you can get vegan pizzas with more toppings elsewhere, but if you want to eat like a local in one of the city’s best pizza restaurants? This is your pizzeria.
For fried food lovers: La Masardona
What’s better than pizza? Fried pizza! At least, that’s what the geniuses behind La Masardona think. What better way to stand out? If every restaurant in the city’s slinging Margherita’s, you’ve gotta have a gimmick. But at this restaurant, the frying really does elevate the simple – but already calorific pizza – into something glorious. Crispy and surprisingly light, it’s very much the ‘cronut’ of the pizza world. There’s no real need for it, but you just have to try it. Want to rein in the calorie laden attack on your arteries, but still indulge? Pick any of the battilocchio on the menu. Smaller, just as tasty, and less likely to leave you too full to enjoy the rest of the Naples food scene.