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Where to try the authentic taste of Naples in the UK

BY Federica Carr

21st Dec 2022 Food Heroes

Where to try the authentic taste of Naples in the UK

Naples is famed for inventing pizza, but there is much more to Neapolitan cuisine than its cheesy triumph. We find out where to sample Naples food in the UK

When I mention I am from Naples, people usually remark that it’s either the city of mafia (wrong, as mafia is Sicilian) or pizza. Of course, the pizza reference is far more preferred!

Naples is indeed the recognised birthplace of the real pizza and the most famous of all—the margherita—was allegedly created when Queen Margherita of Savoy visited in 1889.

"Naples is indeed the recognised birthplace of the real pizza"

Pizza is ubiquitous these days, and it’s a favourite food everywhere in the world. To maintain consistency with its origins, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) certifies the authenticity of Neapolitan pizza throughout Italy and worldwide. 

But Naples’ culinary excellence reaches way beyond pizza. Read on for our recommendations on where to try Neapolitan flavours without leaving the UK.

The best pizza—outside London

Pizza being shovelled into red hot wood fired ovenAuthentic Neapolitan pizza must be accredited by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana

Long-time friends Armando and Berardo opened up Cresci in the centre of York in the spring of 2020. Despite the difficultes during the pandemic, they obtained AVPN certification after only five months, establishing their welcoming and modern pizzeria as one of the most popular in York.

Regular punters include Michelin-starred chefs and, of course, local Italian expats. The quality of the ingredients make their pizza and side dishes an absolute must-try.

Hungry for more?

Further north, Scotland’s only AVPN member is the traditional Pizzeria 1926, in Edinburgh’s Haymarket, which serves a wide selection of Neapolitan street food, from mozzarella in carrozza (breaded, fried mozzarella slices) to potato crocchè (croquettes).

In Chester, one to check out is award-winning Stile Napoletano Pizzeria by pizzaiolo Giacomo Guido, who came to the UK in 2018 from the beautiful island of Ischia (in the bay of Naples).

On the south coast, master pizzaiolo Enzo Fiore teaches the art of pizza at a Brighton college and delights locals at his pizzeria O’Curniciello.

Pizza—in London

The capital is so full of pizzerie, it’s hard to select just a few. And not many make the genuine version that one would expect to eat in Naples.

Our favourite is Theo’s (two locations: Camberwell, Elephant and Castle). The menu has classics and daily, seasonal specials as authentic as you can get, thanks to a rich tomato sauce base and the toppings on offer (sausage and friarielli greens is truly delicious).

For lunch, they also offer a classic from Gragnano, a small town near Naples: the panuozzo is a wood-fired bread sandwich filled with mouth-watering, traditional staples, such as aubergine and smoked mozzarella. 

Hungry for more?

If possible, avoid well-known chains and opt for the independently owned, where care and attention go into the dishes.

In the West End, Ciro Salvo’s 50 Kalò is the UK outpost of famous pizzaiolo Ciro Salvo. Another London location of a celebrated Neapolitan original is L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele (two branches in the capital and one in Manchester).

Pizza is also found in street food markets, often cooked in a mobile wood fired oven. One to try is Sud Italia van (a regular at Old Spitalfield Market). Their wonderful pizza a portafoglio (folded) is the epitome of street-eating pizzas.

Coffee

Naples arabica coffee beans spilling out of bagNaples locals prefer a blend of robusta and arabica coffee beans

In Naples, coffee is a serious matter, as one saying goes. Locals claim the coffee tastes best thanks to the city’s water and air.

Neapolitans love a mix of robusta and arabica beans, roasted for longer and at higher temperature than usual.

"Locals claim the coffee tastes best in Naples thanks to the city’s water and air"

Where can you drink a Neapolitan coffee in the UK? In the capital, try Caffè Napoli, the only UK branch of an Italian franchise, where they propose a “Neapolitan breakfast”—a shot of espresso with a sfogliatella (ricotta and semolina-filled pastry).

Thirsty for more?

Outside London, try Caffè Portico in Lincoln, an all-day cafe and pizzeria with Neapolitan flair and flavours, or Gusta in Tunbridge Wells for great coffee and panini.

Cakes and pastries

Pasticceria mignon, small Italian cakes and pastries served in NaplesNaples families eat small traditional cakes and pastries on Sundays

Neapolitan expats will tell you how much they miss the city’s traditional cakes and pastries. On Sundays, families get together for lunch, always sharing a tray of pasticceria mignon, bite-sized cakes and pastries.

At Christmas, Easter and other special occasions, we love a zeppola di San Giuseppe (custard-filled chou buns for Father’s Day) or mostaccioli (chocolate covered spiced biscuits at Christmas).

"On Sundays, families get together for lunch, always sharing a tray of pasticceria mignon"

Thankfully, we can now order online from Neapolitan lawyer-turned-baker Serena De Filippis, who runs Dolce Italian Patisserie. They sell a selection of Italian classics, including many Neapolitan pastries and desserts, with fantastic presentation. 

Hungry for more?

Naples cuisine is at the centre of Yummy-ya online bakery, which sells homemade, classic sweet and savoury bakes.

La trattoria (casual neighbourhood restaurants)

We love Bottega Caruso, in Margate’s Old Town—a deli shop with a changing menu and a fantastic selection of wines. Their dishes are inspired by the family’s origins in the Campania region.

It’s Naples but with a touch of the heritage from surrounding areas, from Sannio to the Amalfi coast.

In the summer, grab a seat in the sun-filled outdoor terrace and enjoy freshly made bruschetta, rustic soups and homemade pasta.

Hungry for more?

Around the corner, in Herne Bay, try A Casa Mia, a restaurant with many seafood classics as well as a pizza menu accredited by AVPN. 

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