Naples, the regional capital of Campania and Italy’s third-largest city is a colorful, historical, and edgy cosmopolitan hub. Set to the backdrop of Mount Vesuvius, unexpectedly diverse architecture meshes seamlessly with fast-paced city life and surrounding natural beauty. But most importantly, Naples is one of Italy’s premier food capitals.
Naples is the modern birthplace of pizza, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find some of the best pizzerias and takeaway joints in the country tucked away down its gritty urban streets. But with so many to choose from, you’re probably which is worth visiting.
There are pizzerias in every neighborhood of old Napoli that are deserving of accolades. In fact, Naples is home to more than 800 pizzerias, but only 100 are recognized by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) and you’ll find the best pizza at these certified joints. Our guide explores the very best pizza places in Naples so you can weed the Buena from the bad. Let’s get into it.
Pizza in Italy
Italy and food go hand in hand. The boot-shaped peninsula has had an undeniable impact on western civilization, but the mark it has left on European food culture is perhaps the most profound. Pasta, espresso, fine wine, and great cheese are just some things that the rest of the world has Italy to thank for, but pizza is one of its most popular exports.
Modern pizza evolved from Naples’ flatbread dishes in the late 18th century, although the word pizza was first documented in 997 AD in Gaeta, South-central Italy on the border with Campania. Pizza Margherita famously hails from Naples itself, owing its name to Italy’s Queen Margherita who visited Pizzeria Brandi in Naples in 1889. Pizzaiolo, Raffaele Esposito, created the pizza in honor of the royal visit, and it soon became a symbolic dish of Naples and Italy at large.
You might have thought Pizza Napoletana to be the most famous pizza variation to come out of the city, but Pizza Napoletana actually refers to a method of preparation, and not a combination of toppings, that emerged at the same time as the Margherita variety in Naples at the end of the 19th century. Pizza Neapolitan is often separated from Pizza Margherita on your favorite takeout menus, but traditional Pizza Margherita is actually just one of the most well-known variations of Pizza Neapolitan.
Neapolitan pizza is recognized as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage food and is traditionally crafted by pizzaiolo using mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil on yeasted flatbread. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) is a regulatory body that protects this art of pizza-making in Naples. All over the city, the AVPN makes sure that the traditions of Neapolitan pizza making are adhered to in recognized establishments, and that only the finest ingredients go into the pizzas served in Naples.
If you want real pizza made using the old-school, celebrated methods, the best way to find somewhere to eat in Naples is by looking out for Pizza Vera signs issued by the AVPN that restaurants place above their doors. Queues of hungry Neapolitans are another good indication of high-quality pizza since collective local approval is always the best way to judge Italian food. But if you’re still not sure, the joints below are just some of the top-rated places to visit in the birthplace of pizza.
Pizzeria Starita, Materdei
Materdei, or “middle ground” as locals like to call it, was known as just that until recent years: an unassuming neighborhood nestled between the upper part of the city, where hillside Vomero is located, and the historic center. However, Materdei has welcomed an artistic rebirth in the 21st century and the steep streets, where locals zip past on their motor-scooters, are now decorated with street art and cultural centers. Even Francisco Bossoletti, the young Argentinian street artist, has his large-scale mural “Parthenope” located here.
The authentic area of Naples is a great place to experience the city like a local, and what better way to do that than to eat like one too? Starita first opened its doors in 1901, and has served everyone from the Pope to Hollywood actress, Sofia Loren, who visited when the restaurant served as a filming location for Vittorio De Sica’s 1954 movie “L’oro di Napoli”.
Starita is a slice of history in Materdei and has helped put the district on the map. The name Starita has been linked to the art of pizza-making for decades, and the restaurant’s owner, Antonio Starita, is vice president for the AVPN. So it should come as no surprise that Starita is one of the premier certified spots by the board.
Antonio is also president of “Le Centenarie” a body that recognizes and protects the 10 oldest pizzerias in Naples, of which Starita is one. Starita has branches in Turin, Milan, and now, New York, but Napoli’s very own is the original. The pizza here is firm but with a delicious doughy crust. Don’t miss the fried dough balls served with warm Nutella for dipping for dessert.
Address: Via Materdei, 27/28, 80136 Napoli NA, Italy
Contact: +39 081 544 1485
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 12 pm to 3.30 pm, 7 pm to 11.30 pm
Gorizia 1916, Vomero
Located in the affluent neighborhood of Vemero, near the funicular, Gorizia is a family-run pizzeria that’s been welcoming visitors for over a hundred years, famously keeping its doors open throughout both world wars. Gorizia became a pillar of the community in the 20th century and has remained one ever since.
Gorizia has been visited by some of Naples’ most notable residents, but it’s not all tradition and antiquity, despite what the art-deco interior might imply. One of their most revered creations is pizza topped with fries, which, unsurprisingly, goes down very well with international tourists. Other more refined offerings on their menu include the stuffed calzone pizzas with provolone cheese and Saltimbocca (veal wrapped with prosciutto and sage), as well as arancini and gnocchi.
Elegant waiters dressed traditionally in waistcoats, white shirts, and bow ties, serve your meal, cooked by a 6th generation pizzaiolo, atop crisp white tablecloths. There’s also an extensive drinks menu with house wine and great coffee.
Address: Via Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 29, 80127 Napoli NA, Italy
Contact: +39 081 578 2248, gorizia1916.com, quandoo.it
Opening Hours: Open daily, 12.30 pm to 4 pm, 7.30 pm to 12 am
Located far off the tourist track in Naples’ northern outskirts, Carminiello is a much-loved Pizzeria dating back to the early 20th century. Carminiello is run by the De Lucia family and they operate a tight-knit team who are often praised for their warm service.
Carminiello is rough around the edges, always crowded and without a menu, but all these things become lovable quirks when they’re serving pizza this good. Fried fillings and dough and great vegetarian options are all on offer. Being such a renowned and historic pizza spot with locals, Carminiello’s reasonable prices make it even more attractive.
Owners Enzo and Maria are always behind the counter ready to welcome guests and take orders. You’ll also find arancini, croquettes, and battered fried aubergine waiting for you behind the glass. It might be busy, but there usually isn’t a tourist in sight. The location also might be unfavorable, but it hasn’t changed since they opened their doors in 1910 and the De Lucias show no signs of abandoning their history any time soon. Nevertheless, it’s worth making the trip here before you leave Naples.
Address: Corso Secondigliano, 350, 80144 Napoli NA, Italy
Contact: +39 081 754 0037
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturdaym 10.30 am to 3.30 pm, 6 pm to 12 am
Sorbillo, Centro Storico
You can’t talk about pizza in Naples without mentioning Sorbillo. Sorbillo is located in Centro Storico, the colorful, noisy, and historical heart of the city, and one of Europe’s oldest ancient centers. The contemporary urban fabric of Napoli exists harmoniously with the long and eventful past of this area and you’ll find the Palazzo Reale, the churches of Gesú Nuovo and San Lorenzo, 2,500-year-old UNESCO-listed buildings, and streets teeming with scooters, vendors and cheap eats.
Sorbillo is not only part of the furniture, but a centerpiece. Gino Sorbillo, the man behind the pizzeria, comes from a long line of pizzaiolo. In fact, the Sorbillos are one of the oldest pizza-making families in Naples. Gino’s grandparents opened Sorbillo, on Via Dei Tribunali, in 1935 with just four marble tables and a whole lot of ambition. Known affectionately as “via Della pizza”, the street was the epicenter of Neapolitan pizza art at the time, and it remains one of the best places in Naples for authentic local cuisine, steeped in tradition.
There’s always a long queue up the street starting at Sorbillo. The historic haunt has perfected a lively yet simple ambiance with stripped-back trattoria decor and exposed brick walls. Sorbillo is so good that it’s Michelin Guide-rated. Menu highlights include fried zucchini, anchoa, and of course, Margherita pizzas, and every dish is made from organic Campanian ingredients.
You can’t make reservations and just have to listen out front until the waiter calls your name, which can take up to two hours, but it will all be worth it. Pick up a beer from the marble Aquafrescaio kiosk next door that’s been manned by the same signora for 50 years, and enjoy the wait. What better way to soak up the Napoli atmosphere than standing in a crowded street, cold drink in hand?
Address: Via Dei Tribunali, 32, 80138 Napoli NA, Italy
Contact: +39 081 446643
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, 12 pm to 11.30 pm, Sunday, 12 pm to 3.30 pm
La’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
Another one of Italy’s oldest pizza joints and a Michelin Guide restaurant, La’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, or Da Michele to locals, is a Neapolitan institution and one of the best pizza places in Naples. Founded in 1870, Da Michele keeps things as simple as the humble beginnings of pizza-making in Naples, iconically serving just Pizza Margherita and Pizza Marinara. Locals hardly ever order anything else, so why complicate things? What’s more, Da Michele put the ‘Eat’ in ‘Eat, Pray, Love,’ starring in Julia Robert’s movie, and pictures of the Hollywood actress adorn the walls in homage to the part that this traditional Neapolitan pizzeria played in the blockbuster.
The Marinara, topped with tomato sauce, garlic, oil, and oregano, is equally as popular as the Margherita, with tomato sauce, Fior di latte mozzarella, and fresh basil. There’s also an unofficial third option, a Pizza Bianco, that isn’t on the menu, but it makes the rounds with locals, with toppings of mozzarella and oregano.
Occupied by a wood-fired oven in the center of the restaurant, Da Michele is unassuming and authentic, and they churn out hundreds of pizzas a day for hungry diners and takeaway customers. Everything about Da Michele is fast-paced, apart from the waiting times, hence why you’re served so quickly to make sure everyone gets a slice. The host issues numbered tickets and there’s even a long line at lunchtime, but don’t let that put you off.
They belong to the AVPN and adhere to the time-tested and strict rules around Napoletana pizza-making, such as the exact proportion of yeast needed in the pizza dough, the correct method of stretching, and the 90-second maximum time that a pizza can stay in the wood burning stove. Da Michele is a landmark pizzeria, astoundingly cheap (at 7 EUR a pizza), and not to be missed.
Address: Via Cesare Sersale, 1, 80139 Napoli NA, Italy
Contact: +39 081 553 9204
Opening Hours: Open daily, 11 am to 11 pm
Where can you find the best pizza in the world?
Naples boasts the richest pizza culture of anywhere in the world, and not just because of its historical roots, but also because Neapolitan pizza is the most delicious variation, made from yeast-leavened dough and local Campanian ingredients. Naples is the pizza capital of the world and the modern birthplace of everyone’s favorite cheesy tomato flatbread so there’s nowhere better to savor it. Naples pizza is so good that there’s an official regulatory body that protects the art of Neapolitan pizza-making and ensures that local pizzaiola adhere to the recognized traditions.
What is the oldest pizzeria in Naples?
The oldest pizzeria in Naples is L’Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba. The informal restaurant dates back to 1738, more than a century before Pizza Margherita was even curated. It sits beside the old city gates and is loved for its seafood and pasta dishes as well as its pizza, like the house special, Spaghetti Puttanesca. Street vendors would re-fuel on marinara pizzas from Port’Alba in their lunch breaks in the 18th century and even tucked into pizza pies topped with tomato and mozzarella, a combination that would later become the Pizza Margherita.
Why is the service so bad in Italy?
It’s not uncommon for even the highest-rated Italian restaurants to receive poor reviews from international visitors, and this often has little to do with the food. Rather, Italy has a less commercially-driven society than we’re used to in the west. A leisurely pace is often favored over tips and bumped wages, and for this reason, the service, too, is often leisurely. In Italy, “the server is always right”, not the customer, so don’t expect high-class service and enjoy your meal for what is it: good food.