Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Italy >
Jan 7, 2010 02:41 PM

Espresso, Food Shopping & Simple Pleasures in Naples?

We are heading to Naples next weekend for a brief trip, and our primary intention is to eat and drink, chiefly pizza and espresso. I've read through a bunch of threads on Naples and have the pizza plan pretty well sorted out, but I have no sound leads on where to get a face-meltingly good espresso (espresso macchiato is my personal fave). I'm guessing that the best pasticcerie and sfogliatelle places (thanks, chowhound!) are a good bet for great espresso - any other recommendations? I imagine good stuff is easy to come by, but I'm aiming for transcendent....

I'm also hoping to pick the hive mind for other foodie info about Naples... We're vegetarians (no seafood either) and like simple, inexpensive pleasures and finding fabulous raw ingredients that we can bring home (to Germany) and cook with - also we're basically on a student budget, as I'm unemployed and my partner is a young academic. I know there have been a lot of posts on Naples, but they've tended toward pizza or pastry or restaurants that are either too meaty or probably too pricey for us. We're looking for for...

- good markets and food stores (is there anywhere analogous to Volpetti or Innocenza in Rome)?
- marzipan
- olive oil
- remarkable citrus
- apertivi we shouldn't miss
- great gelato (apart from Scimmi's, which is already on the list)
- basically anything else awesome & not pizza or sfogliatelle or a seafood restaurant (we're veg!) :)

Also, just as a shot in the dark... I'm also into aromatherapy and am intrigued by the use of locally produced orange flower water in pastries. Anyone know where I can get some of that (or, better still, locally produced essential oils or the like) in Napoli? I wonder if lemon flower water (from those amazing local lemons) ever makes its way into food...?

Thanks, everyone! I'll be sure to post a trip report when we get back. :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I loved , loved Cafe Gambrinus ! Really kicking myself for not buying their wonder cappuccino cups. Anyone know a way to buy them ?

    1. I just wrote a long response but deleted accidentally - Naples has great veg food - its food of the poor after all. We liked Stanza del Gusto, near Piazza Bellini, open Sunday in their "cheese bar" space - nice people into the local foof, sell some specialty products, creatve, ask to see their aging room. Hosteria Toledo, in Quartieri Spagnoli, friendly, traditional big menu, Cantina di Via Sapienza nr Arch Museum and Piazza Bellini, closed Sun, very good, cheap, excellevt veg dishes and grilled smoked provola cheese. Other possibilities La Chiacchierata nr Galleria, Nennella, Matozzi (Piazza Carita), Ciro a Santa Brigida (pricier but make a plate of their delicious veg appetizers, eat with soup, pizza or pasta) LUISE - Tavola Calda, Via Toledo or Piazza dei Martiri

      1 Reply
      1. re: jen kalb

        Ive had more technical problems
        Best food shopping - Pignasecca market area Piazza Carita to Montesantoalso some nice atmospheric shops in Via Tribunali. dont expect to shop on Sunday - mornings are best.
        Lemon stuff - havent seen what you are looking for - try this place or look for an old monastery pharmacy - I think their might be one in Naples but there is def Ai Monasteri in Rome which carries this kind of stuff.
        Coffee - definitely Cafe Mexico in Piazza Dante (via Toledo) and elsewhere.
        Have a great visit and report back!

      2. My trip to Naples was so long ago, and I would have to search my basement for any possible restaurant notes....but, when you go for espresso, get one with hazlenut creme in it...nocciolo...I've never had anything like it!!!

        As for the orange flower water, I'm sure it is widely available since it's in the pastries. Familiarize yourself with the local word for it, and ask at a cafe or pastry shop :). Napolitani are some of the friendliest, proudest people anywhere.

        And a non-food market....find the market that sells all the nativity scenes (presepi, or creche in Italian)...whether you will be buying or not, the artistry is incredible!

        1. I had no problems avoiding seafood or finding delicious vegetarian pasta dishes in Naples, although if you're getting antitpasti it may be wise to make inquiries beforehand- pancetta and slivers of tiny fish appeared unexpectedly several times. Cafe Gambrinus is amazing; it was also astoundingly pricey. Worth it for the experience, and the Old Fashioned was one of the stiffest drinks I've had, but it couldn't have been something for every morning...

          Ciro was really lovely all around, and they offer a complete gluten-free menu, which my mother was grateful for. It is also- well, definitely not damnable in the price department, but not inexpensive.

          As long as you're fine with cheese and cream and pasta, you should be fine throughout the city; even the true seafood places had other options. However! There is this place,, which we stumbled across entirely by accident (you sort of come up off Tribunale up old steps, duck through an archway and go through a courtyard, if I remember correctly). Everything's vegetarian, it was delicious, and the menu apparently changes every day, and between the lunch and dinner seatings. It remains one of two Italian restaurants I've been in that serves tofu/seitan. Get the piatto unico, it was perhaps 9.00 euros; it's a dollop of most of the side dishes (glazed carrots, roasted potatoes, a sort of souffle with broccoli rabe, wilted with garlic greens, etc. when we were there) and a soup (ceci e varza). My father, who believes firmly in the power of steak, thought it was fantastic. The house wine was decent.

          Actually I think it's the same piazza Bellini, which has a neglected patch of ashlar masonry from the old Greek walls in the center, which also has several cafe/bookshops/hangout sort of places- a number of these had insalatone and omelettes with cheese and asparagus and whatnot.

          Sorry, I can't help with the rest of it, although perhaps the slow food site would have other information?

          5 Replies
          1. re: chocolatstiletto

            glad that sorriso integrale was good - I would NEVER have gone to a place like that after an absolutely dire meal at a veggie place in Paris with my then-vegan daughter. I think I recommended above a couple places right around Piazza Bellini and you are correct about the neglected ancient Greek remains. - for some reason I didnt warm to the Piazza Bellini area - its neglected air sort of reminds me of India and its darker and less lively (notwithstanding its rep as being a hang for more cooler tourists) than some of the other nearby areas. But the Stanza del Gusto is very good., and of course Sorbillo, di Matteo and some of the other places, stores and churches down along Via dei Tribunali are terrific.

            1. re: jen kalb

              Heh- as an archaeology student, I have say I loved Bellini and the Tribunale (a remnant of the Roman road system) for precisely those reasons! But you're right, it can look a big dodgy, although we walked through there at all hours and never had any issues. Totally missed that you'd mentioned the piazza; I'm only sorry that I didn't think to take any further names.

              To the original poster- omelettes were a surprisingly common option in Naples, moreso than in Rome. Also, I suspect that the ladies at Sorriso would know of aromatherapy places, since the walls are stocked with herbalist books and meditation techniques. It isn't, oh, mind-blowingly transcendent, but it most certainly isn't crunchy brown rice and bland tofu, as I fear Jen Kalb may have suffered!

              ...this is only making me want to return to Napoli asap, I clearly didn't have enough pastries in enough cafes....

              1. re: chocolatstiletto

                tou I could have dealt with but unseasoned shredded raw vegetables - in Paris - were unforgiveable. I dont know whether you have been in Naples in the late fall-winter, but that particular area is not lighted at night. especially in the Port'Alba arch (the Pizzeria/restaurant there is really quite good though and more elegant than most of the pizzerias around there. We never had any problems or fears anywhere in the old part of Naples at night, aside from dodging motorinos. I hope you visited the excavation under San Lorenzo maggiore down along Via dei Tribunali

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Oh, wow, that sounds horrible. Romania, in the summer, was much the same, but the flavor of the tomatoes was enough to forgive the faults of the menu.

                  As for lighting, we were there just before New Year's eve, several weeks ago, and stayed for five nights just up on the other side of Via Toledo from the Piazza Dante. While dark, the only problems we experienced were over the fireworks, which, when set off on Tribunali, would cause the whole street to shake and a haze of gunpowder to fill the air...probably a bit chaotic for anyone in those plastic enclosed booths attached to most restaurants!
                  Then again, we live in D.C. so dark streets are not exactly a shock, but it is an important personal question of comfort; you are right to point out that the atmosphere is rather different than many may be accustomed to. We did go beneath San Lorenzo! It is a magnificent complex, on the whole, and I'm only sorry there weren't more chances to test the many pizza restaurants, on the blocks surrounding it.

                  1. re: chocolatstiletto

                    were you staying over at Hotel Correra 241? We liked that very much in 2007 - also the little food shops (did you see the strings of tomatoes hanging?) and life on Via Correra. I wouldnt make so much of the darkness except that it was notable that over by PortAlba there were really no streetlights at all which is quite unusual in European cities.