After Amalfi we headed to Naples for two days of intensive eating! We had been forewarned that Naples was gritty, and not necessarily worth a visit, but…we loved it!
The city has a faded elegance, and is very much a REAL city. On recent trips to Florence and Venice, the impression has been they have morphed into Disney versions of themselves (though still fabulous- they are literally teeming with tourists). In Naples you feel that there are real people living there, with real business to carry out.
Before we got to the city itself, we decided to tour Pompeii. We had a fabulous guide who took us through this incredibly well preserved Roman City which was buried in ash in 79 AD.
Literally history comes alive during a visit here. It was truly fascinating and well worth the trip.
All the walking around in Pompeii helped us work up an appetite for our lunchtime arrival into Naples. We quickly checked into the Hotel Vesuvio (www.vesuvio.it/en) which has a fabulous location right on the waterfront.
The hotel’s heyday was most certainly in the past, but it shares the same faded elegance that the city does. Coming from the Monastero Santa Rosa, it was a bit of a shock to the system, but we were in Naples to eat, not to hang out in the room.
We quickly dropped our bags and headed straight for the closest great pizza place we could find, Sorbillo on the waterfront.
It seems as though there are many outposts of Sorbillo in the city. This locale on the waterfront and close to the exclusive shopping area seemed a bit business like. We perused the menu, and ordered. 90 seconds later out pies appeared, which was good thing because we were starving. We ordered a traditional Margherita as well as a Bufala Mozzarella pie.
The crust was light and airy, the sauce sweet and the cheese nice and creamy. It was a good first foray into Neopolitan Pizza.
We wandered the city for several hours, returned to the hotel and then decided to give 50 Kalò a try (www.50kalò.it) . We arrived at about 7:30, which was on the early side, so we didn’t have to wait.
They had something I thought sounded fantastic: N’duja Pizza. N’duja is like a liquified salami that turns into an oily spicy puddle when cooked atop a pizza. It turned out to be as fantastic as anticipated.
My husband stuck to the traditional Margherita. 50 Kalò also had beer brewed just for the restaurant, which was a terrific complement to the pies. The pizza here was a step above the Sorbillo pies we had for lunch. We returned to the hotel quite sleepy from all those carbs- and slept soundly in anticipation of our big adventure the next day.
We woke and had a light breakfast at the lovely buffet in the hotel.
We didn’t want to eat much because we were setting off for a Culinary Backstreets Tour (culinarybackstreets.com/culinary-walks/naples/). We had taken a BackStreets tour a few months prior in Lisbon, and it was one of the highlights of our trip. The BackStreet tours concentrate on the culinary traditions of a city, and the tour guides take you to experience places that are completely local. The opportunity to interact with the proprietors of these businesses, and to enjoy their delicious food is truly enlightening. Our tour started at Capriccio, a bakery currently owned by the third generation of the founding baker. We met our guide Chiara (it was her birthday!) as well as Amedeo, who she joked was her “work husband” (he leads tours as well). We sampled ethereal Baba au Rum, as well as two kinds of Sfogliatella (curly and smooth). we visited the kitchen and chatted with the bakers.
We then moved on to a tiny Baccaleria which featured all kinds of salt cod- slowly being rehydrated and sliced like sashimi. It was delicious.
We stopped at an outdoor market for a drink that was supposed to aid in digestion- Telese mineral water mixed with a small amount of baking soda so it bubbled like Vesuvius.
We had pizza fritte made by a charming husband and wife duo that was light and delectable.
We went to a shop that only made Freselle- a very crunchy “rusk” like product that has been made by four generations. It is made to go on the bottom of a serving of mussels, to soak up all the delicious juices. For our taste, they topped it with tomatoes and mozzarella.
We had rings of crunchy almond studded treats that were made by generations of bakers in the same family,
and we tasted homemade limoncello.
We tried some fried hand pies- filled with a rich version of macaroni and cheese
and even got to meet the man who makes all the hand painted signs for the local shops.
We ended the tour (5 hours later) with Pizza at the original Sorbillo in the Centro Storico. This spot was mobbed, and we had to wait a bit in the street. It was worth the wait!
The pies we ordered were delicious- they may have been the best yet!
The other people on the tour were just as enthusiastic as we were about food and culture, and Chiara was an amazing guide. I can’t stress enough how terrific these tours are, and such a tremendous value. If there is a tour offered in a city that you will be visiting in the future- GO!
We were stuffed from a fabulous day and couldn’t think of eating too much more for dinner, so we settled for a Spritz an some hors d’oeuvres at a bar nearby the hotel, Ba- Bar (www.ba-bar.it/) . Very please with our stop over in Naples, we decided we would very happily return!