There are some cities that hold so many hidden treasures that it can be hard to know where to start.
One of the best examples is Naples – a buzzing urban center that keeps it beauty slightly obscured under layers of activity, noise and bravado.
And the city’s long history with some of the best known dishes in Italian cuisine only adds to its appeal.
In fact, I have been known to take a day trip to Napoli with the sole purpose of eating – so a food tour in Naples with Culinary Backstreets was literally right up my alley.
We started, as one should, with sfogliatella.
The classic Neapolitan pastry comes in both “riccia” and “frolla” forms, with the difference being in the dough.
We taste tested both versions side-by-side while chatting about the history of the pastry.
Well caffeinated, our food tour moved directly on to the booze after a short walk in the historic center.
Even though I have visited Naples many times, I had no idea there was a limoncello producer tucked away in plain site off one of the city’s busiest streets. We toured the facility, and saw how the organic lemons from the Amalfi Coast are transformed into the digestivo.
Because production of the drink only requires the peels, the shop also offers a mind boggling array of chocolates, cookies and other treats all flavored with citrus.
Moving from the unknown to the must-try, we stopped at one of the most popular fried food stalls in Naples.
And I didn’t have to be told twice to try the pasta fritta, or arancini that arrived piping hot.
Fritti, sfogliatella and even limoncello are beloved in Naples – but the most interesting thing about taking the Culinary Backstreets tour is that it managed to combine these classics with unknown specialities that you would be hard pressed to discover on your own foodie walk around the city.
It was time to break away from the historic center and explore the streets and foods of another side of Naples.
Passing through one of the old gates, we arrived at a small shop specializing in baccala in order to sample a unique take on codfish sashimi.
I honestly could barely wait to get to the market. I have explored Pignasecca market, and others near the train station, but just like every neighborhood – every mercato is different.
As we wandered through the stalls covered in red awnings and bustling with daily shoppers, it was impossible to ignore the handprinted signs that called out the prices of everything on offer.
Luckily, the guide knew exactly where every handmade sign was produced, so we dropped in on the artisan as well.
Then it was back to eating our way through local specialties.
But no food tour in Naples would be complete without pizza.
And the best pizza in Naples is at Sorbillo, so that is exactly where we wandered back to.
Skipping the line was almost as amazing as the perfect pizza.
Even having visited Naples multiple times with the express goal of eating, I really learned a lot on Culinary Backstreet’s food tour in Naples.
The blend of must eats and impossible to find local eateries is an amazing introduction to the city’s unique dining history and modern way of eating.
Stop putting off your next trip.
Many thanks to Culinary Backstreets for the invitation to join the delicious day.