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Naples' Food Scene

Alfonso Gallotti bills the food at Taverna dell'Arte as Neapolitan peasant cooking. Meals—fried ricotta, cured pork, lentil and chestnut soup, sausage stuffed with mozzarella and tomato—are certainly rustic. The authenticity of the palate-cleansing basil granita before desserts such as torta caprese (chocolate almond cake) is debatable, but I'd be the last to complain.

Coffee and Dessert

Traditionalists insist on caffè made with a three-piece Neapolitan pot, with its boil, flip, and drip method of brewing. Stop in at Gran Caffè La Caffettiera or Gran Caffè Gambrinus, both chic places to be seen drinking an espresso or a cocktail before dinner. Those who add milk to their coffee after 10 a.m. will not be taken seriously.

Visitors with a sweet tooth should be warned: Naples is a dangerous place. Try the two types of sfogliatelle pastry: riccia (crisp layers of flour, water, and lard) and frolla (flour, sugar, and butter), filled with sweetened ricotta and candied fruit, at Carraturo, near the train station.

The most stellar gelato in town is dished out at Otranto, where Ciro Otranto makes all his ice creams—pistachio, coffee, almost-black chocolate, hazelnut—from scratch. The flavors are the most intense I've ever had and are worth every calorie.

Street Food

If you're looking for something more thirst-quenching than coffee, spend a day walking the city's tree-lined strade and tasting the offerings from the street stalls and neighborhood vendors. Try just-squeezed lemon or orange juice and mineral water at a banco dell'acqua stand or seasonal fruit frullati (smoothies) from Chiquitos, a kiosk that specializes in macedonia di frutta (fruit salad).

Only the intrepid should order the Neapolitan fishermen's breakfast (octopus broth) at Da Tonino. Pay extra for a ranf e' purpa, or tentacle.

Taralli—tender, twisted rings of dough flavored with pepper and almonds—are an addictive snack, the Italian equivalent of pretzels. I always stop by Tarallificio Leopoldo and bring a bag home as a Proustian reminder of my trip.

Faith Willinger is a cookbook author and food writer living in Florence.


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