Top Ten Trattorias of Naples
Trattoria, osteria, ristorante….. where to start? And more importantly what is the difference? A trattoria, like an osteria, serves simple, rustic food. Unlike a ristorante, a trattoria features a limited menu, often scrawled on a chalkboard or haphazardly scribbled on A4 paper and photocopied. But thoughtless, trattorias are not. These are establishments of cucina povera and if you hope to eat like a local while in Italy and do not happen to have an Italian nonna, then this where you want to spend you feeding time. Naples particularly has some of the best trattorias of Italy. Waves of tourism that have radically changed the restaurant industry in the rest of Italy (and not in a good way), have left Naples relatively untouched (for now). It is still possible to sit at a communal table, eat a hearty plate of pasta and enjoy a carafe of local wine for 10 euros. Below are Sauced & Found’s favorite trattorias in Bella Napoli. Some of these places have weird hours so always check hours first!
Students, lawyers, bricklayers and musicians all converge upon the communal tables of Trattoria Mangia e Bevi at the lunch hour. Near Federico II University on the old Via Sedile di Porto, this trattoria offers simple Neapolitan fare including pasta and potatoes and sausage and friarielli at affordable prices. The draft wine is cheap, abundant and winsome.
Order: Pasta e Patate (Pasta and Potatoes), Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)
When to Come: After visiting San Domenico Maggiore Church and Federico II University
This scenic trattoria is named after the famous Neapolitan comics Antonio di Curtis, Eduardo di Filippo and the favorite local bean dish, pasta e fagioli. It gets raucous here on Saturday nights when roving musicians serenade diners and the draft wine flows freely. The antipasto Forza Napoli is not your average appetizer—it is gut bustlingly abundant . With mussels, fried pizza, buffalo mozzarella, beans and eggplant Parmesan…..etc, it is really more of a meal than a starter.
Order: Antipasto Forza Napoli, Pasta, Fagioli e Cozze (Pasta, Beans and Mussels)
When to Come: On a Saturday night for a bit of local color
This after hours fish spot is located in the middle of a favorite local fishmonger in the Pignasecca market neighborhood. Throughout the day they serve fried fish cups and simple fish pasta dishes, but the time to come is for dinner. Something about sitting in the middle of an old tiled fishmonger is magically cinematic.
Order: Cuppetiello di Pesce (Fried Fish Cup), Spaghetti, Vongole e Tarallo (Spaghetti and Clams with Tarallo)
When to Come: At night after a long day tromping around town—closed Monday as all fish mongers are in Italy
In the middle of the covered market of the Mergellina neighborhood, this informal trattoria for years has attracted American consulate employees and local office workers. The day’s special plates sit under a glass covered deli counter, where you queue to order and then take your food to no nonsense Formica tables to eat and DRINK abundantly. You’ll learn about local life in Naples here while enjoying excellent Eggplant Parmesan.
Order: Peperoni Imbottiti (Stuffed Peppers), Parmigiana di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmesan)
When to Come: For lunch after strolling the lungomare
Oh Malinconico…. We love this place. And who we really love is the chef-owner Marianna. After her husband passed away, she took over the trattoria kitchen and has kept a decidedly local loyal following ever since. While you could call the cuisine here rustic, that would not do justice to Marianna’s refined understanding of Neapolitan cucina povera.
Order: Zuppa di Cozze (Mussel Soup with Octopus), Polpette (Meatballs) Mozarella in Carozza (Grilled Cheese)
When to Come: For lunch after visiting Vomero’s Antignano Market or better yet for Friday or Saturday dinner
This little Chiaia osteria is gem and blast from the past. Old photos decorate wood paneled walls and the same diners have been coming here for Saturday lunch for years. Come with a group of friends, order plates to share and take in the ambiance of old Naples.
Order: Bracciole (Beef Rolls), Alici Fritti (Fried Anchovies)
When to Come: For Saturday lunch after shopping the Chiaia boutiques
You cannot come to Napoli without visiting the iconic Spanish quarter. While Nennella has become a wild tourist favorite of late, we prefer Gobetto. Stroll up the sloped narrow alleys of the Quartier Spagnoli and enjoy the congenial service at this dining institution.
Order: Gnocchi alla Sorrentina (Tomato and Mozarella Potato Gnocchi), Baccalà al Sugo (Tomato Braised Cod)
When to Come: For lunch after getting lost in the old alleys of the Spanish Quarter
Arguably serving the best polpette (meatballs) in Napoli, this trattoria is jut across the entrance to the Napoli Sotterranea tunnels. Come here hungry and treat yourself to the full Italian lunch of antipasti (appetizers), primi (pasta) and secondo (main dish).
Order: Polpette (Meatballs), Paccheri di Baccalà (Cod Paccheri Pasta)
When to Come: For lunch after visiting the Centro Storico and Napoli Sotterranea
Located off the main Vomero Piazza Vanvitelli, Elvira offers asset menu of primo and secondo with all you can eat contorno (sides) buffet. Locals and visitors alike flock here for the abundant portions and affordable prices. Be advised, you will over eat here. Select your stretchy pants accordingly.
Order: Pasta alla Scoglio (Seafood Pasta)
When to Come: For dinner after visiting the San Martino Cloisters and Castel Sant’Elmo. Better yet walk the Pedementina stairs from lower Napoli to Vomero so that you can earn your subsequent caloric intake!!
One best Genovese pastas in Napoli. The braised onion and meat pasta dish is a highlight, but anything on the seasonal menu here is excellent and just like nonna would have made it. On a genteel corner in Vomero, come here for dinner and a movie or a after a visit to the theater.
Order: Ziti al Genovese (Stewed Onion and Ziti Pasta)
When to Come: For dinner after a visit to the cinema or theater.