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

Carraturo

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

Mazz

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

Mennella

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

Moccia

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

Poppella

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

Scaturchio

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
Photo © thesooper.it

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
Photo © thesooper.it

Pintauro

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
Photo © thesooper.it


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
Image © napolistories.it

Gay-Odin

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?

Oct 3, 2018

Where To Eat In Trastevere – updated for 2018

I love the Trastevere neighborhood. Vibrant, colorful, yet lazy and ironic. So totally Roman in every aspect.
Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome

Wedged between the River Tiber, Vatican State, and the Janiculum Hill, Trastevere is a village within a city. The Trastevere village is then divided itself into two distinct worlds, cut in half by the Viale Trastevere thoroughfare: on the Santa Maria in Trastevere side, tourists and international students mingle in and out of raucous pubs and tavernas; on the southern side of Viale Trastevere is instead a quieter, more authentic 'old Rome' atmosphere that permeates the cobbled alleys.

Rione XIII Trastevere, Rome

Four years ago I created a list of my favorite restaurants in Trastevere. It's time to update it, adding new places that have opened, and taking out others that no longer excite me.

Trastevere, in fact, offers a lot of places to eat... not many of which are really any good. The density of touristy eateries in the neighborhood has sadly increased over the years. So it's important for me, as a fan of the Rione XIII, to prove that we shouldn't simplify the old Roman "left bank" to strung laundry and tourist traps.

Here is my shortlist of favorite places to eat in Trastevere.

Da Enzo al 29 in Trastevere

Da Enzo al 29 in Trastevere

Photos © thedishstance.com

Da Enzo
Cucina romana classics in this tiny osteria include a very well assembled carbonara and sublime cacio e pepe. The menu is seasonal and depends on whatever is fresh and available at the market on the day, so expect entrées to include coda alla vaccinara (stewed oxtail) or baccalà (cod) baked with a potato crust and blistered cherry tomatoes. Leave room for dessert, especially if the mascarpone mousse topped with wild strawberries is available that day. This hole-in-the wall trattoria has a line out the door every night, and does not take reservations after 7:30pm.

Osteria der Belli in Trastevere, Rome
Photo © anamericaninrome.com

Osteria Der Belli

Outdoor seating in this Sardinian restaurant overlooks a charming piazza in Trastevere. The menu is seafood-based, so you can go crazy ordering spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, fresh anchovies and pecorino; various crudo and tartare platters; grilled scampi and the catch of the day baked in a salt crust, or any way Leo suggests. Cucina romana classics are also available.

Tavernaccia Da Bruno in Trastevere, Rome

Tavernaccia Da Bruno
I squeezed this in my Trastevere list, but this family-run restaurant is actually closer to Testaccio. In addition to traditional Roman and Lazio cuisine, expert pizza makers bake pies and focaccia in the large wood-fired oven. The five decades of family ownership and consistently delicious pastas, delectable mains, and appealing desserts make this one of those places that indemnify Trastevere's bad dining reputation.

Pianoalto in Trastevere, Rome

Pianoalto
Again at the southernmost tip of Trastevere, not far for the Trastevere train station is Pianoalto, a game on words brought to us by the same brilliant female foursome behind Pianostrada. The rooftop location is set across two floors including the landscaped terrace boasting a stylish bar counter and offering views across Rome's ex-slaughterhouse, the Aventine hill and Monte Testaccio. The menu is seasonal, in summer think ravioli filled with burrata, candied tomatoes, crispy eggplant, basil and ricotta salata; or spaghetti with grilled mussels, zucchini flowers, pecorino di Falisco and candied lemon.

STREET FOOD & PIZZA

Seu Pizza Illuminati in Trastevere, Rome
Photo © kittyskitchen.it

Seu Pizza Illuminati

Located on the edge of Trastevere near Ostiense is a stellar new pizzeria that has definitively spolied us Romans: after tasting Pier Daniele Seu's pies we no longer settle for average. Highlights of the rich menu include the pizza Margherita Gialla (topped with yellow vine-ripened tomatoes, mint and smoked provola cheese), the Origini pizza with fior di latte, porchetta, myrtle liqueur reduction and rosemary, and the Indiviata pie topped with fior di latte, Belgian endive, mortadella, pistachio-flavored whipped ricotta and nutmeg.

La Casa del Supplì in Trastevere, Rome

La Casa del Supplì - Sisini
This minuscule family run take-away place is buzzing with activity all day long and serves Rome's best supplì (fried rice balls). There's also a good choice of other fritti, like zucchini blossoms, battered cod fillets and potato corquettes, as well as pizza al taglio (slabs of thin-crust pizza baked in large pans, squares of which are sold by weight). Lazy cooks can purchase their lasagna, rotisserie chicken and french fries to go.

Trapizzino in Trastevere, Rome

Trapizzino
Rome's street food craze, the famed triangular pizza corners, have landed in Trastevere, and this too has contributed to raising the neighborhood's bar of quality. Fillings of the hot pocket of your dreams are the franchise's fame, and include classic Roman gastronomy ranging from chicken cacciatore, tongue with salsa verde, braised oxtail, meatballs drenched in tomato sauce, zighinì (spicy slow cooked Eritrean meat dish), picchiapò beef stew, pork belly Roman style and much more. Good beers and bubbly.

La Boccaccia in Trastevere, Rome

La Boccaccia
This tiny––when I say tiny, think 'broom closet' tiny––pizza al taglio joint serves some of the best arrabbiata pizza topping I've had to date. Their pork sausage and broccoli is equally amazing, as is their pumpkin one. If there's no room to sit, have your pizza wrapped, walk to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere and eat your squares of happiness sitting on the steps of the fountain.

Maritozzo Rosso in Trastevere, Rome
Photo © apronandsneakers.com

Il Maritozzo Rosso

If you thought maritozzo could only be a decadent breakfast bun filled with whipped cream, you'll have to think again. In the location that once housed the first Pianostrada, savory buns are filled with all manner of cucina romana classics: crispy guanciale and pecorino; cacio e pepe, or stracciatella (the filling in burrata), anchovies and seared spinach. These are only a few of the 30 different fillings available on rotation. There's obviously sweet maritozzi too, so save room for dessert.

COFFEE, PASTRIES & GELATO

Bar San Callisto, Rome
Photo © kukkulalta.com

Bar San Callisto

This charming dated neighborhood bar is a Trastevere must. Sit outside at the rickety tables, drink Peroni beer from the bottle, watch the old men play cards at impromptu sidewalk tables and receive automatic Trastevere citizenship. Just to give you a clue as to the usual clientele, the bar's license was recently suspended for three days, on accounts of disturbing the peace (a late-nigh jam session). The homemade gelato is limited to a few simple flavors, served with freshly whipped cream. Don't miss the house specialties, sambuca con la mosca (anise liqueur with a toasted coffee bean in it) and sgroppino: lemon sorbet mixed with (non-equal parts) chilled vodka and served with a spoon and a straw.


Otaleg!
When Marco Radicioni opened his second gelateria in Trastevere the loud roar of exultation was heard as far as Malta. Favorite flavors of the moment (they change on quick rotation) are white chocolate-licorice-mint, Madagascar vanilla-bourbon with ginger, and all the phenomenal seasonal fruit scoops.


Fatamorgana
Regarded as the the gelato maker that bought gourmet gelato to Rome, Maria Agnese Spagnuolo churns mainstream classic as well as adventurous flavour combos like pear & Gorgonzola; tobacco flavored chocolate; black srice and rose petals, and whatever else is in season. All flavors are organic and gluten free. My favorites are bacio del principe (hazelnut praline and toasted hazelnuts), pistachio di Bronte, and cinnamon-apple. As far as summer fruits, I always go with peach, watermelon and cantaloupe.

Biscottificio Innocenti in Trastevere, Rome
Photo © Andrea Di Lorenzo for italyfoodandwinetours.com

Biscottificio Innocenti

Stefania and her family make hundreds of types of biscotti in a 1960s vintage oven that's 14 meters long and works with a conveyor belt. When the German company that sold it to Stefania's parents came to install the "beast" in the cookie shop, the neighbors told the couple that they were crazy investing their life savings in that horrid thing. The oven is still there, producing sweet morsels of joy. Do yourself a favor and buy a bag of brutti ma buoni ("ugly but good" hazelnut macaroons), shortbread hearts half dipped in chocolate and the wafer-thin "stracci". The coffee vending machine makes surprisingly good espresso. Sip and nibble on the bench, while you listen to Stefania's perfect trasteverino dialect as she tells you stories of her fascinating life in the Rione.

Le Levain in Trastevere, Rome

Le Levain
This tiny French-inspired bakery-boulangerie uses sourdough natural starter yeast in almost all of their recipes. That alone should be a guarantee of quality. Le Levain is popular for homemade pastries, breakfast buns, mini-cakes and bread. Savory preparations include quiches filled with anything from pancetta and cheese, to broccoli and potato. I come for breakfast and binge on their delightful buttery croissants and pain au chocolat (which are made with actual French butter), macarons, eclairs, and original tartes. Beware, though: once you do too, you'll never settle for a margarine-soaked cornetto ever again.

What's your favorite place to eat in Trastevere?




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