Nov 16, 2018

My 10 favorite cheese shops in Rome

"There is a reciprocal relationship between cheese and its customer: every cheese waits for its client, poses in a way to attract it, with attitude and haughty grain, or on the contrary dissolving into surrendering abandon" 
In his novel Palomar, Italo Calvino describes the subtle relationship (and slight exhilaration) of finding oneself in front of an overflowing cheese counter in a Parisian cheese shop.

That same embarrassment of riches is how I feel when, disoriented, I make my way to the front of the shop and peer in the overflowing cheese display. Not only am I tugged in several directions––torn between a soft-ripened bloomy rind robiola and a voluptuous and nutty Alpine toma––I am also reminded with every bite, that cheese is the result of dedication, hard work, passion and love.

Behind each cheese there are in fact OGM-free cereals, rolling pastures, fragrant meadows, green grass and transhumance, and also sets of sturdy (and often heat-chapped) hands, obstinance and secrets handed down over the centuries, superstition, patience, tradition, prayer and for many, livelihood.

Rome has its fair share of cheese shops. The ones listed below are some of the usual places where I normally am found, lost in contemplation, tasting slices carved from old classics, or discovering new incredible products.

I like to linger and chat with the cheesemonger, ask about where the cheese was made, who the people behind each wheel are, what wine pairs well with the cheese, what bread pairs well with the cheese... The conversation often goes on for hours. I know you understand.

Here are my 10 favorite cheese shops in Rome.

Conciato di Rebibbia at ProLoco Dol

ProLoco DOL
In the Centocelle suburb, Vincenzo Mancino and his "family" of loyal Lazio food purveyors operate in the number one location for regional culinary specialties. Cheese occupies large portion of the offer, with stars like rare Caciofiore whose curds are made with soaked thistle, soft Cacio Magno, or the herb-rubbed Conciato produced by the female inmates of the Rebibbia prison. There's also a wide selection of cave-aged pecorinos, caciocavallo and buffalo cheese produced in the nearby Pontina marshland. Cured meats and cheeses can be enjoyed seated along with house pizza in teglia and a handful of succulent entrees. Reservations recommended. especially on the weekend.

Alpine cheeses at La Tradizione

La Tradizione
Owned by Roberto and Stefano and a passionate team of cheese lovers, the shop boasts one of Rome's widest cheese selections. The display case (and the caveau downstairs) conceal a vast assortment of cured meats and more than 400 kinds of cheese from Italy and abroad. Barrel-matured and cave-aged Caciocavallo, ricotta Seirass, plus Cheddar and Stilton. There's a special display reserved for only for blues, gorgonzolas and roqueforts. Shelves of goat milk cheeses, caciocavallo, taleggio, Sicilian ragusano, and the unique Conciato Romano of the Le Campestre farm that's aged with herbs, spices and wine in special terracotta anforae. All the extravagant shopping here is paper-wrapped with a ribbon and handed over with a smile.

Bloomy goat cheeses at Beppe e i Suoi Formaggi

Beppe e i Suoi Formaggi
Beppe Giovale comes from a family of cheesemakers who produce, age and cure cheeses made with the milk of their own goats, cows and sheep. The spacious shop located in the Jewish Quarter sells mostly Piemonte and French raw milk regional cheeses sourced exclusively from free-range, pasteur-raised cattle farms. The cheeses can be both purchased or enjoyed at one of the tables in the back, along with a glass of wine, whole-grain breads, terrines, extra virgin olive oil, edible flowers, nuts, pomegranate berries and fruit jellies. Reservations recommended at peak aperitivo time (6-8pm).

The blue cheese display at La Formaggeria di Francesco Loreti

La Formaggeria di Francesco Loreti
At stall number 26 of Mercato Latino in Piazza Epiro, Francesco and Donatella carve wedges out of toothsome wheels, handing them with a smile to awe-struck customers. Conversation is followed by a glass of wine and more cheese. This is totally normal here, transactions come later. The stall sells only artisanal products sourced at small creameries and family-run dairy farms, and not usually found at farmer's markets. The goal is removing from our daily food shopping cart items commonly available in big chain grocery stores, providing instead valid, high quality alternatives, sold at totally democratic prices. The market is open Mon-Sat, 6:30am-3:00pm.

The glorious stinkers sold at Salumeria Roscioli

Salumeria Roscioli
Bread and cheese go hand in hand. It's no surprise then that Rome's leading baker should naturally expand its offer to include bread-loving foods like prime cured meats and stellar cheese. The manic selection of quality products is in the hands of brothers Alessandro and Pierluigi Roscioli. Gracing displays are soft discs of robiola, bloomed and washed rind cheeses, moldy blues like rare White Stilton Gold, made in only 6 creameries and containing actual flecks of gold. There's more: think rare Bitto, elastic pecorinos, or Caciocavallo Podolico made in Puglia between May and June with the milk of an endangered cow breed. Reservations mandatory.

Signor Roberto and Signora Anna at Antica Caciara Trasteverina

Antica Caciara Trasteverina
The smile on Signor Roberto and his wife Anna's face lights up with every customer that walks in the door of this historical Trastevere cheese shop. This is where Romans come for authentic Pecorino Romano DOP (made by Fulvi with Lazio milk) and sheep ricotta sourced at sustainable creameries. Other delights include oven-baked ricotta, formaggio di fossa (cheese matured in sealed 6-ft deep tufa stone pits), toma del Piemonte, variably aged regional cheeses, plus Norcia cured meats like guanciale, corallina, coglioni di mulo and other goofy-named local salumi.

Antipasto situation at Salsamenteria

Roberto Mangione runs a small deli (salsamenteria, in old Italian) and you'd be content just purchasing silken slices of prosciutto San Daniele or a precious sliver of gooey Gorgonzola, but you'd be missing out on Rome's best kept secret. After the sun goes down, Roberto pours the bubbly and serves fine cheeses and top cured meats with impromptu seating on foldable chairs and tables opposite the display cases. I come for the refined culinary delights like beer-flavored Ottavio cheese produced at Fattorie Fiandino, or Alpine Beaufort. All paired with Roberto's elegant selection of Champagne (200+ labels), Italian and French wines, craft beers and liqueurs. Given venue size, call ahead to let Roberto know you'll be stopping by.

All the French cheeses at Va Sano

Va Sano
After moving to Rome from their native Paris, David and Laurène travel back to France regularly to source their high quality French products. Think creamy Camembert Fermier, or delightful Comté aged 24 or 36 months, wines from Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Alsace, Languedoc and the Southwestern wine regions, plus spectacular Champagnes. In addition to the gorgeous cheese and wine selection, accoutrements include foie gras and macarons, croissants, pain au chocolat, pain d'épice and gourmet jams. Wine and cheese tastings are held weekly.

The window display at Casa dei Latticini in Rome

Casa dei Latticini
Family-run since 1898 – not a typo – Antonio Micocci's treasure trove of all things moldy, funky and crumbly continues the family tradition: providing the elegant Sallustiano neighborhood residents with top-notch cheese and dairy. Shelves are chock-full with 500 different types of Italian cheese and some French highlights. The selection of toma piemontese wheels is staggering, and the delicious mozzarella di bufala is delivered twice a day from Paestum (Barlotti, Vannulo, etc). The staff always has a small selection of tastings out on the counter for walk-in clients and devoted aficionados.

Roberto Liberati in his historical butcher shop in Rome

Bottega Liberati
Take the orange A metro line and get off at Giulio Agricola. The 1960s historically acclaimed Liberati butcher shop is now in the hands of Roberto. Sold in addition prime Maremmana, Piemontese, Chianina, Charolais and Bue Grasso di Carrù beef cuts are select herbs, bottled sauces, jarred legumes and bronze-extruded pastas. Romans also flock here for Liberati's phenomenal cheese selection. Prime quality products hail from high altitude pastures and grass fed cattle. I can't last too long without goat's milk robiola Le Ramate, Cau & Spada cheeses, and his sublime burrata. Bottega Liberati is furthermore the only place south of the Alps where I can find the delightful Eggemoa cheeses.


Nov 7, 2018

Vellutata recipes

With the first chill of November, heaters are turned on in Italian apratment buildings, and soups are brewed all over the boot-shaped peninsula. My favorite kind of soup is vellutata.

Vellutata is one of those perfect Italian words.

noun, fem. 

Gastronomic term – Vegetable puree combined with heavy cream, starchy legumes or egg yolks rendering a creamy, and––as the name implies––velvety consistency.

Growing up, my son––who loyal readers of this blog know as Mr E––loved vegetables. He's always been daring and tried all the food I presented him, regardless what color it was. His kindergarten, and then later grade school peers, did not eat anything green.

vellutata - velvety vegetable soup

Then at around 6, he started pushing away the bowl of minestrone. My industrious mother, who may have pulled this trick with me too at some point in my growing up, started pureeing soups with an immersion blender and serving them to him as velouté. That silly exotic word (with an actual completely different meaning) has remained in our family lexicon. We actually normally refer to vellutata as velouté.

vellutata - velvety vegetable soup

The most popular velouté in our household is one made with zucca (pumpkin) given the abundance of it in markets and on autumn tables. But this creamy soup can be made year round with a wide range of other seasonal crops. During summer, vellutata is a bounty of zucchini, peas, asparagus, peppers, etc. Now I'm going crazy with broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, leeks, carrots, squash, leafy greens and apples, even. It's the trickiest way of serving children a whole lot of vegetables, shielded behind a voluptuous texture and a mysterious name.

I like to mix my vellutata soups up with other kinds of vegetables and spices, topping them with croutons, toasted nuts and seeds, sautéed mushroom, fried onions or crispy pancetta. 

vellutata - velvety vegetable soup

The beauty of this dish is that it can virtually be made with what's available in the fridge that day. Take vellutata di patate e porri, for example: this creamy leek and potato soup is made soft and creamy by adding a boiled potato to gently simmering leeks. The potato gives the mixture a rich, velvety texture. More thickening helpers for your vellutata can be chickpeas, lentils, a spoonful of flour, egg yolks, aquafaba, beans, ricotta, cooked chestnuts... you name it.

If I can, I'll avoid using heavy cream as the liquid element in my vellutata. A trick is swapping it with coconut milk, bone broth, yogurt or sour cream.

zucca mantovana for vellutata soup

The first vellutata of the season I made this year was with roasted zucca mantovana, which is a sensational candy-sweet pumpkin. I pureed it with turmeric, coconut milk and canned chickpeas for thickness. It was to die for. 

After a particularly rainy rugby training last week, my son and I came home under a torriential downpour craving something warm and comforting. I blended together steamed cauliflower, a can of cannellini beans, a pinch of curry and used vegetable broth I had made in advance and froze in an ice cube tray. I topped our steaming bowls with toasted almonds and we ate on the sofa under a pile of fleece blankets while binge-watching Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix.

I recently received wonderful porcini mushrooms from my neighbor's campagna. I immediately made vellutata di porcini, or velouté rather. I made it gluten-free so my little sister could have some too in case she decided to stop in for dinner after work.

vellutata - velvety vegetable soup

300 g wild porcini mushrooms
1 white onion, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh sage
500 ml (17 fl oz) vegetable broth
50 g (1/4 cup) rice flour
400 ml (13 fl oz) whole milk, chilled

Clean the mushrooms by scraping the stems and leaing the caps on, then shave them using a mandoline. Save a couple for garnish.

Sauté the chopped onion with 3 Tbsp. olive oil and a clove of garlic. Add a sprig of sage and the shaved porcini. 

When just lightly wilted, add all the broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and gently simmer over moderate heat for about 6 minutes. 

In the meantime, work on the thickener: in a plate and using a wire whisk, mix the rice flour with the cold milk, then pour the obtained mixture into the mushroom soup. 

Cook covered for about 15 minutes, remove the sage sprig and pour in a blender to puree until creamy. Add more broth if it's too thick.

Heat the soup briefly, then serve garnished with raw porcini slices and one last turn of the peppermill.

Buon appetito!

Nov 1, 2018

Abruzzo featured on AmexEssentials Weekend Guide

When American Express Essentials magazine approached me to write about a lesser known place in Italy, capturing the spirit of the region with tips that would appeal to a wide range of interests, I happily suggested featuring Abruzzo, a place I hold very dear in my heart.

@EleonoraBaldwin Abruzzo

I've mentioned Abruzzo in many posts on this blog. 
I shared a photo essay on my first (of many) weekend escape to Abruzzo

@EleonoraBaldwin Abruzzo

I shared an account of the chilling night of the earthquake

I added a 2009 diary from set entry; 

@EleonoraBaldwin Abruzzo

©EleonoraBaldwin Abruzzo

I have gone on and on, waxing poetic and how to make arrosticini

I shared my discovery of vino cotto, cooked wine must.

©EleonoraBaldwin Abruzzo

Abruzzo is where I discovered that size does not matter. Where I celebrate all my birthdays. The place where my son and I unplug and spend long moments hypnotized by the crackling fireplace, enjoying the silence and restoring importance to the little things. Abruzzo is the place where I have met some of my dearest friends. 

It's a special place, and I was happy to "give back" and show gratitude for all that it has given me, by mentioning some of my favorite things about it in a widely read magazine.

The link to the article is here: Weekend Getaway Guide: Abruzzo, Italy

I hope you enjoy reading it.

American Express Essentials Weekend Getaway Guide: Abruzzo, Italy

Oct 25, 2018

Top 10 favorite Rome restaurants I can be spotted at

I often get asked what my favorite restaurant in Rome is, or which are in my top 3. This is very difficult to answer, obviously. Pizza, fine dining, informal trattoria-style… there are so many types of restaurants, prices and formats to choose from. I have a number of favorites for each category.

But don't be fooled into thinking that my list of usual Rome hangouts is vast and varied. To the contrary. I rely on only a handful of trusted venues. Despite the excitement surrounding new openings and the food scene in my city, I have to also take into account wallet and––well, life. Reality is not like it often appears on Instagram.

real life, not Instagram

I'm an entrepreneur, journalist and television host, but the laundry's not going to hang itself. Food shopping, cleaning the house, making exciting and nutritious meals for a rugby-playing, hormone-busting boy and working three full-time jobs take time out of my restaurant reporting. Driving to and from school/work/errands takes big chunks of time out of my potential venue-scouting. Not to mention trying to find a parking spot. All this is quadrupled when it rains in Rome, or when workers go on a transportation strike. Raising a teenager as a single parent requires furthermore dedicating time and attention to sometimes small yet important things. There are times when my son needs help with homework. Sometimes he just wants to cuddle (God bless him for still having moments like that!). There are other times when he needs me to just listen.

family first

There are days when I fall asleep in my clothes on the sofa at 8 pm. I have to put alerts in my phone to remind myself to drink water, take a bathroom break, go out for a walk. Trying to squeeze in press events at new restaurants and staying out after 11 pm on a school night can be overwhelming if not downright impossible. And what if the place turns out to be disappointing? All that precious time I could have spent with family gets wasted on bad finger food and watered down Spritz.

And that's why I'm a creature of habit. That's why when I actually do carve out a night to dine out with girlfriends, or when my son and I manage to peel ourselves off the floor on Fridays, we tend to not stray from the well-known, from the comforting welcome we're reserved at those places where we’re considered regulars.

These are my tried and true places, the ones where I feel welcome. Where it's OK to occasionally drop in without a reservation, or where I am perfectly comfortable eating at a table for one.

What follows is a list of the 10 restaurants in Rome, divided by category, where I can be most often be found at, enjoying favorite seasonal dishes, or trying out new menu suggestions, alone or in the company of someone special.

Bistro-style dining

Salumeria Roscioli
I love sitting at either the bar counter or the small tables set up against the cheese counter, with prosciutto legs jutting over my head. This is a place where I feel at home. I always order the same thing: burrata with semi-dried tomatoes, a plate of pata negra Joselito 5 Jotas, and chef Nabil Hadj Hassen's stellar carbonara. I wipe out the entire bread basket (baked at the forno around the corner) and I finish off with un caffè at the owner's coffee bar next door.

Carbonara at Roscioli in Rome

Proloco DOL
This Centocelle deli-meets-restaurant is the brainchild of Vincenzo Mancino, an epicure who has made it his mission to scout out the region’s best ingredients. This means that the front of the shop sells prime quality cured meats, cheeses, bottled sauces and canned goods, wine, craft beer, bread, pickles and jams, organic eggs and flour: all from Lazio. The the dining room adjacent to the shop is a superb restaurant whose menu changes with the seasons. I always order a plate of pasta (the amatriciana is out of this world, as are the ravioli, sourced at Pastificio Secondi) but meals here always open with a ridiculous charcuterie board, considering how Vincenzo knows what I like, and indulges me (be sure to ask for the homemade mortadella). In the evening I always have one of Simoneìs pizza in teglia, that is baked in tin pans and served sliced.

ProLoco DOL appetizer de rigeur

amatriciana at ProLoco DOL in Rome

Fine dining

Young Spanish chef Alba Esteve Ruiz has fully immersed herself in the flavors of Rome. Her kitchen offers both steadfast Rome tradition in beautifully presented surprises, and creative Iberian digressions. Click here to read about a recent meal I had at Marzapane.

Tasting menu at Marzapane in Rome

Rome hosts a variety of acclaimed Michelin Star restaurants. When I set budget aside in favor of a unique luxury experience, I head over to Metamorfosi. Colombian chef Roy Caceres presents an eclectic style that’s––like the name implies––in constant evolution, so the creative offer is never the same. I love to let the staff choose what I’ll be eating that day, with the exception of a handful of evergreen dishes, like the glazed eel and the mushroom and hazelnut risotto “wrapped” in a thin edible veil.

Metamorfosi Michelin star restaurant in Rome

Pizza and street food

I could eat Trapizzino's triangular pizza pockets filled with cucina romana every day of the week. In particular, the chicken cacciatore is my absolute favorite. Just writing about it makes me salivate. The supplì rice balls are also amazing. Remember when a decade ago Rome's best loved street food franchise offered two Trapizzino sizes? Now you can find Trapizzino in New York's Lower East Side.

Trapizzino street food

Natural "mother" starter, whole-grain stone-milled crusts, organic and strictly seasonal ingredients in the toppings, pies served sliced: a pizza format that actually revolutionized the classic pizzeria concept in many ways. Starterd in Bologna by two Calabrians, the franchise now has 8 outlets in Italy and 2 in London. I'll take their "margherita" topped with mozzarella di bufala from Caserta any day, but my heart belongs to their pie topped with 'nduja from Spilinga (spicy spreadable sausage), fiordilatte and tomato.

Berberé pizza in Rome

Wine bars with food

Beppe e i Suoi Formaggi
I like the way fourth generation cheese maker Beppe Giovale thinks: essentially, cheese needs wine and wine needs cheese. That’s why this place can’t be defined as simply a "wine bar" or a "cheese shop." It's a lot of both things, offering sensational raw milk cheeses, many of which are made by Beppe; phenomenal butter, great Piemonte products, including foie gras, hazelnuts, white truffles (in season now), cured meats, heritage breads, as well as a fine selection of wine.

Beppe e i Suoi Formaggi in Rome

Enoteca Bulzoni
My family started purchasing wine and spirits from this family wine merchant in the Sixties. I’ve watched brothers Alessandro and Riccardo raise their grandfather Emidio's legacy to what Bulzoni is today: no longer just a very well-stocked neighborhood wine shop, but a superior quality beverage resource as well as a fine dining venue. I love to walk here after work for hearty aperitivo, which––given the number of small plates served along with my glass(es) of wine––becomes early dinner by Rome standards. My go-to pintxos include crostini with smoked burrata and blistered tomatoes, and Fiocco della Tuscia cheese melted over seasonal vegetables drizzled with cooked wine must. Great wine list, notable natural labels and a fine Bulzoni brand too.

Enoteca Bulzoni in Rome

Out of town

Sora Maria e Arcangelo
I don't like the word favorite, but this is pretty much the place I could eat at every day of my life, if I could. I discovered this delightful restaurant in Olevano Romano in 2011 and have been coming here regularly since. I even filmed a Lazio episode ending of my show here. We were so relaxed and at ease after the meal we ate that we actually drank all the wine and in the episode ending you can see us all laughing, tipsy and happy. Giovanni Milana is one of the kindest, most passionate cooks I know. Aided by his mother in the kitchen, Giovanni interprets local ingredients and recipes with respect and admiration. Every time I come for lunch, I always order at least one portion of the giant signature cannelloni.

The cannelloni at Sora Maria e Arcangelo in Olevano Romano

Giovanni Milana, chef and owner of Sora Maria e Arcangelo in Olevano Romano

Osteria Iotto
The masterminds behind this sensational Campagnano restaurant open since 2005 are Marco Pasquali and his wine Ines Cappelli. Their own farm supplies the kitchen with fresh, seasonal ingredients, that go into simple, wholesome and delicious dishes. Always on the menu, in addition to seasonal rotations, is an excellent gricia (pasta with cured pork jowl, pecorino and pepper), lamb with roast potatoes, meatballs with a mix of veal and pork, as well as very good braised oxtail. I always have the giant fritto platter, which features potato croquettes, apple and pear fritters, potato and mortadella balls, cubed and breaded mozzarella, and the best onion rings on the planet.

Osteria Iotto in Campagnano

If you see me in any of these restaurants, do come say hello!

Top 10 favorite Venice restaurants I can be spotted at

Oct 17, 2018

The bakeries I’ve been banned from in Naples

The city of Naples dates back to the 2nd Millennium BC. Visited for its rich history, jaw-dropping seaside views and stunning architecture, Napoli's full potential is however still underappreciated.

Naples, Italy

In addition to its elegant buildings, sense of style and historic sites, Naples is a superlative food destination.

Naples, Italy

While pizza is the first food-association, the city's pastry scene is equally tantalizing. So much so that my nutritionist has issued a restraining order that prohibits me from returning too often to the city's historical pastry outlets.

Here is a list of bakeries in Naples I've been banned from (and where I nonetheless go as often as I can).

Top 18 bakeries in Naples

Antica Pasticceria Vincenzo Bellavia

This native Sicilian bakery at its fouth generation since 1925 is where Neapolitans stop for breakfast or to pick up top-notch cannoli, cassata as well as a wide variety of traditional Neapolitan pastries and gelato, plus classic or gluten-free desserts, holiday creations, spumoni and more. My guilty pleasure here is the Mery Mou cake, a caramel and meringue production topped with whipped cream and crunchy chocolate pralines. The variety and the quality of products put family-run Bellavia among the city's best, with four city-wide locations, including one in the Naples Capodichino airport.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples

Pasticceria Salvatore Capparelli

While enjoying a beautiful view of Piazzetta San Gaetano not far from Basilica di San Paolo Maggiore, I like to linger with Signora Pina, peacefully putting away the shop's fine selection of traditional pastries like parigine, zeppole and ventagli. Capparelli's best insight into the true taste of Naples is however their babà. The pillowy mushroom-shaped levened pastry is baked and then soaked in a simple syrup and rum blend, and is one of the city's symbolic desserts. Babà can be plain, or filled with sweetened whipped cream, pastry cream, and even ricotta cream, topped with macerated cherries or fresh berries.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples


Founded in 1837, this is one of my favorite and less glitzy bakeries in Naples. Usually after a slow passeggiata from the Archeological Museum, passing by the Contemporary Madre Museum, I head east to busy Piazza di Porta Capuana (old city stone gate with triumphal carvings) just to stop at Carraturo, and then virtually feel my blood sugar spike. Round occhio di bue shortbread biscuits, babà, pastiera and other classic Neapolitan specialties are always served with a smile. A fine cup of espresso coffee completes the offer.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples

Gran Caffè Cimmino

Well known for its aromatic espresso, this is where locals can rely on for their zeppole. A word about these delightful pastries: Zeppole di San Giuseppe are baked (or fried) in the days leading up to San Giuseppe (the feast of St. Joseph, on March 19th, Italian Father's Day). These are ring-shaped choux pastry that once baked/fried are sliced open and filled with lemon-scented pastry cream and topped with syrupy amarena cherries. Obviously the fried zeppole are better. Cimmino has two branches, one on Via Filangieri and the other, with gulf and Mt Vesuvius views, on posh Via Petrarca. Both shops have issued a court order against me for excessive patronage.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples

Gran Caffe Gambrinus

Located at the intersection of Piazza Plebiscito, classy via Chiaia and the royal palace of Naples, with its own Teatro San Carlo opera house, the historic cafè has been a haunt for intellectuals, politicians, and bon vivants since 1860. Reminiscent of the elegant Belle Epoque coffee houses of Vienna or Paris, illustrious Italian celebrities––like poet Gabriele D'Annunzio and philosopher Benedetto Croce, as well as international personalities such as Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway––shaped the country's culture while munching on buttery tea-time biscotti.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples


When ricotta and cream are whipped together with poached pears and then sandwiched between speculoos-type hazelnut biscotti, you get a delicious local cake called ricotta e pera. While the crunchy crust pushes out the soft center when bitten into it, the contrast in textures and delightful taste make this one of my favorite Napolitan cakes. I have found the best ricotta e pera to be served at Mazzaro, which recently changed its name to Mazz. Located on Via dei Tribunali, the bakery sits under the archway with the bronze Pulcinella head. Their zuppa inglese (a sort of trifle) isn't bad either!

Top 18 bakeries in Naples


Way back in 1969, Antonio Mennella set up his pastry shop in Torre del Greco. Fast forward 40+ years later when the founder's sons Vincenzo, Giuseppe and Roberto's passion turned those humble beginnings into a booming pastry and gelato business, opening 5 city-wide shops and a modern centralized bakery lab where their traditional and modern creations come to life.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples


In the spring of 1936, inheriting her parents' passion for bread baking, Signora Giuseppina Moccia opened a panificio on Via Roccella, now called Via Carducci. When in 2014 the San Pasquale branch of the family franchise closed, we worshippers of their signature pizzette and sweets were in shock for months. The Posillipo store still bakes amazing Caprese, Pastiera, Delizia al Limone and other classic cakes, including a ring shaped babà cake that's not to be believed. A satellite business called Moccia 1936 recently opened by ex-Moccia employees on Via Benedetto Croce, that focuses on the savory signature pizzetta di Moccia.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples


In the heart of the Rione Sanità, in business since 1920, family-run Pasticceria Poppella is where university students and musicians on a break between solfeggios at the conservatory come for Fiocco di Neve (a brioche bun filled with a cream whose recipe is kept secret), Calice di San Gennaro and Bombetta di Totò (white and dark chocolate dipped babà filled with cream), torta Napulè and more. With the third generation now at the helm, in 2016 Poppella opened a second branch on via Santa Brigida, at a stone's throw from the Maschio Angioino castle, Galleria Umberto I and Teatro San Carlo.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples


Locals and dessert lovers in Naples flock to the city's oldest pasticceria for cakes like pastiera––a sweet semolina tart filled with orange blossom flavored-ricotta––that's still made according to the century-old original recipe. It's the Ministeriale however that fully represents the 1905 brand. This dark chocolate disk with creamy liqueur, ricotta and hazelnut filling was invented in 1919 by Francesco Scaturchio for the singer diva who went by the name of Anna Fougez (her real name was Maria Annina Laganà Pappacena). The success of the praline urged its creator to request the title of supplier for the royal house of Savoy, for which he underwent a grueling bureaucratic procedure at various ministries; which gave the chocolate the name "Ministeriale."

Top 18 bakeries in Naples

Voglia di Graffa

Under the city of Naples is another polis. Going under street level allows to visit areas of urban development from the city's early beginnings to the present day. See the remains of the Greco-Roman aqueduct and the Roman theater in an underground journey spanning 2,400 years of history, from the ancient Greeks to the present day, revealing the "belly" of Naples from an archaeological, historical, anthropological and geological point of view. When you emerge back in Via dei Tribunali, reward yourself with a graffa, a typical Italian fried donut, made with potato in the dough. Voglia di Graffa is a teeny take-out place that offers made-to-order donuts: warm, delicious and tremendously caloric.

"Napoli tre cose tene 'e belle: 'o sole, 'o mare e 'a sfugliatella"

Top 18 bakeries in Naples

I feel sfogliatella deserves its own story.

If the rum-soaked babà is king, sfogliatella is the queen of Napoli's traditional pastries. There are three versions of sfogliatella: riccia, frolla and Santa Rosa.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples

The crust of the riccia ("ruffled") is unique: layers of phyllo-style pastry are each slathered with a thin veil of rendered lard and rolled very thin. The obtained pastry dough is then shaped into a clam-like shell and filled with a custardy mixture of semolina, sweetened ricotta, eggs, sugar, candied citrus and a hint of cinnamon. When baked, the layers separate and become crisp, giving the sfogliatella its characteristic ridged look. Icing sugar sprinkled on top completes these messy bites.
Top 18 bakeries in Naples
Sfogliatella frolla, on the other hand, pasta frolla (shortbread crust) instead of the flaky layered one of the riccia. The filling remains the same, while the smooth buttery crust is round and dome-shaped.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples

Sfogliatella Santa Rosa is essentially a riccia topped with pastry cream and pitted cherries macerated in syrup.

I eat sfogliatella any time I can, and in Naples any self-respecting bakery will have their own version. After extensive research, I have pared down my favorite sfogliatelle to the following bakeries:

Top 18 bakeries in Naples
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Fratelli Attanasio

At a stone's throw from the Napoli Centrale train station, wedged in a tiny alley, is a pastry shop that focuses its production on sfogliatelle of all kinds. In business since 1930, Attanasio’s particularity is the always hot "parking" oven where sfogliatelle are kept warm and dusted with icing sugar at the very last moment.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples
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This place has been serving sfogliatelle since 1785. Pasquale Pintauro is the name of the pastry chef that started selling them after acquiring the original ancient recipe devised by the nuns of the cloistered convent of Santa Rosa in Conca dei Marini, on the Amalfi Coast, dating back to the 1600s.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples
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Sfogliatella Mary

This is a tiny bakery located at the western (via Toledo) entrance to Naples' oldest shopping mall, the Galleria Umberto, which sits opposite Teatro San Carlo. The queue outside this hole in the wall betrays the quality of the sfogliatelle. Their frolle are without a doubt the best in town.

To thoroughly appreciate sfogliatelle, it's of paramount importance to eat them straight out of the oven while still warm. A warning, though: in the rapture of the scent of sugar and cinnamon, please avoid voraciously biting into them carelessly like I usually do: the pastry shell is warm, but the ricotta filling is volcanic.

If writing about Naples and my pastry addiction, I wouldn't be doing justice to either if I concluded without mentioning chocolate.

My favorite temples of cioccolato in Naples are:

Top 18 bakeries in Naples
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The historical chocolatier founded in 1894 is the dream come true of Isidoro Odin, a masterful confectioner who moved to the city from the north of Italy, and his wife Onorina Gay, both attracted by the vibrant cultural animation that Naples offered in that period. Gay-Odin has grown and now has nine shops across the city, and one in Milan and another dangerously located 2 block from my house in Rome. The various chocolate pralines, chocolate bars and signature sweets are still produced with the same artisanal expertise. Favorite creations include Foresta, chocolate bark made of milk chocolate, and the Vesuvio, shaped and named after the nearby dormant volcano.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples

Antica Cioccolateria Parlato

The small shop at Via Chiaia 237 is a bit dark and cramped, but the cozy environment is saturated with the sweet smell of cocoa filling the room. A place that truly maintains faith to its name. In fact, Antica Cioccolateria Parlato is not only in its original location, but also keeps the same artisan vocation, including in the small streetside display window, the signage, the counter, wooden shelves, and glass bowls filled with chocolate pralines, liqueur chocolates, bars and delicious "confetti" sugared almonds that beg to be perused.

Top 18 bakeries in Naples

Casa Infante

True, this place falls in the gelateria category, but it cannot go unmentioned. Originating in the 1940s, the family-run gelateria boasts fine homemade flavors such as chocolate, caramel, and creamy white chocolate, and seasonal delights like walnuts from Sorrento, cantaloupe melon and Amalfi lemon. I have been banned from the Piazza Vanvitelli store for having abused of thier cheesecake flavor that came served with cascading blackberries, blueberries, redcurrants, cookies and strawberries, and from the Via Chiaia branch for ordering too many jars of layered caramel speculoos cookie flavor topped with Lotus cream...

Top 18 bakeries in Naples

Il Vero Bar del Professore

Il Vero Bar del Professore's famous caffè nocciolato del Professore is an espresso topped with hazelnut cream. I just want you to know that in winter time this sweet delight can also come served in a stubby wafer gelato cone lined with dark chocolate…

What's your favorite pastry shop/bakery in Naples?