“Where I’ve Been Travel partnered with Secret Food Tours for this review. I was provided a discount for the tour but as always, all opinions are my own.”
It’s no secret (see what I did there) that I am a huge fan of food tours. I think a food tour is the best way to learn about a city and they have become a regular part of any visit to a new city. Naples is known as a city with delicious food and rich culinary traditions and a food tour here is a Naples must-do. I had such a great time on my Secret Food Tour in Montreal, that I booked a second one with them in Naples.
About Secret Food Tours
Secret Food Tours offers tours in over 25 countries. Each tour is conducted by local guides that pride themselves on knowing where to get the best food in their city. A tour guide will take you to a variety of food stops in their city, sharing the history of the city and other interesting information throughout the tour. As a bonus, each tour with Secret Food Tours features a secret stop. Something extra special that you won’t find on other food tours!
The Secret Food Tour Naples
Our food tour in Naples began by meeting Marco. Marco is a native Neopolitan and it was immediately obvious that he loves Naples and couldn’t wait to share his city with us. He told me that he has traveled a lot but always loves to get back to Naples and to the food. Can you think of a better endorsement for a city and its food?
The Naples food tour includes ten stops. Ten! You can also purchase an upgraded drink package if you want liquor options outside of what is offered with the basic tour. The company and its guides are sensitive to their guests’ needs and Marco asked each of us if we had any food allergies or preferences. We had one vegetarian in our group and they were given other, equally delicious, options at several stops.
Our tour took us through the Decumani and Centro Storio neighborhoods of Naples. Both are densely populated and full of history, interesting characters, and lots of delicious food. And both provide a real experience of what life is like in Naples. I particularly enjoyed seeing the shops that sell only one thing, like gifts for newborns and getting a sense of the community. The streets of Naples are bustling with activity and energy and Marco’s narrative gave us a better idea of this exciting city and its residents.
The Food of Naples
In a word, Neopolitan food is awesome! It’s simple, yet substantial. This is where pizza was born and coffee is an art form. And our group couldn’t wait to get started! I’m not going to share all of the stops on the tour to keep the secret in Secret Food Tours. I will tell you that this is without question the most food I’ve ever eaten on a food tour!
“The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.” George Miller
Our tour started the way that many Neapolitans start their day, with sfogliatella. Interesting note – bakeries in Naples only sell sweet pastries or savory pastries, not both. This singular focus on specializing on one thing is a throwback to another time and part of what makes Naples such a unique place.
Back to our pastry. Sfogliatellas come in two varieties riccia and rolla. Sfogliatella made with riccia dough is crispy and crunchy and shaped like a seashell. Taking a bite leaves a trail of crumbs in its wake. The version made with rolla dough is softer and a round shape. While both are delicious, I preferred the riccia dough and ate these delicious pastries several times during our time in Naples.
I love discovering new foods and the next stop was for a dish that I had never heard of, tortano. Tortano is a bread that is filled with eggs and ham and then served in slices. It’s traditionally given at Easter so families often end up with many loaves of tortano. I’ve never eaten anything like it but found it to be hearty and delicious.
We ate our tortano with a glass of locally made wine. Vesuvius stands in the background of Naples and its rich volcanic soil gives Neopolitan foods its special flavor, including their wines. The glass of white wine I had was light and refreshing. And the wine shop we stopped at was a destination in and of itself.
One of my favorite stops on the tour was also one of the most simple. Marco stopped at a salumeria to purchase cheese and salumi for our group. If you haven’t had fresh buffalo mozzarella you haven’t lived. The mozzarella we regularly eat is just a shadow of buffalo mozzarella. We also had a generous piece of ricotta that was melt-in-your-mouth creamy. Standing in the sunshine on the street eating fresh, unadorned cheese exemplifies the simple pleasures that Naples offers visitors.
Marco shared information and stories about the neighborhood. That’s the beauty of the food tour, you get a history tour with snacks!
Pizza in Naples
You can’t go on a food tour in Naples and not eat pizza! This is the motherland of pizza and you will find pizzerias everywhere. The beauty of Neopolitan pizza is in its simplicity.
Our stop was at Pizzeria Antico Borgo dei Vergini. Not only did we get to eat amazing pizza, but we also got to help make it! But first, we received a lesson on how traditional pizza is made in Naples. Pizzaiolos in Naples only use wood ovens to make their pizza and you’ll see beautiful domed ovens in every pizzeria. I love any tour that includes participation and getting a behind the scenes look at pizza making is a must-do in Naples.
The wood oven gives Neopolitan pizza its traditional char and the high temperatures mean a pizza can cook in 15 seconds. Now that’s what I call fast food!
Marble slabs are used to make the dough because the slab’s smooth surface stays cool even close to the hot oven. We were lucky enough to sample two pizzas, the traditional Margherita and one made with friarielli, a type of broccoli, and sausage. Oh, and a glass of beer to wash it down with. A trip to Naples is worth it just to have a traditional Naples pizza.
One of my favorite things about the Secret Food Tour in Naples was the pace. We were never rushed, and our group of seven had ample time to ask questions, sit and enjoy our food and drink, and get to know Naples and each other.
Naples – UNESCO World Heritage Site
Twenty centuries of history has earned the historic center of Naples a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Naples’s historic center is the largest in Europe and from it, you can see the rich and diverse history of this city. These ancient streets were the next portion of our Secret Food Tour. I stayed in this area of town and can tell you that it is a food paradise.
Limoncello in Italy
Time for a drink! And not just any drink, but the sweetest drink you’ll ever taste – limoncello.
Limoncello is a liqueur made from lemons but there are many other varieties available including those made with melon and pistachios. A cool shot glass of limoncello is another one of Italy’s gifts to the world. Trust me on this. Marco showed us how limoncello is traditionally produced and then we got to sample what I refer to as lemon sunshine.
When you go to Italy you gotta eat pasta! Italians eat pasta once a day and we did too during our time there. The pasta sampled on our food tour was a simple ragu cooked in a traditional style. Pasta is cooked al dente and the ragu is simply flavored with tomatoes and meat that is cooked into a silky sauce. This is what Italians eat on weekends with their families. If you want to eat like an Italian, eat ragu.
Gelato in Naples
We also had the great pleasure of sampling gelato. I went to Italy with the intention of eating gelato every day. And I came close, I only missed one day! I honestly get a little teary-eyed thinking of eating gelato in Italy.
We made our way through town, and Marco continued to share interesting tidbits about places and traditions. He was so patient with our group and you can tell he loves what he is doing.
Our tour was coming to an end and our last stop was for an espresso. I’m not a coffee drinker but had committed to trying everything that was offered to me. Coffee in Italy is steeped in tradition and ritual. For example, espresso cups are kept in boiling water to ensure your coffee is hot. And coffee is a small shot to start the day with. No massive to-go cups and iced coffees here. Coffee serves a purpose and the best thing to do is to go with the flow, enjoy, and appreciate coffee in Naples.
Book a Secret Food Tour
Ready to book your own Secret Food Tour in Naples? Tours are offered most days and discounts are available for teenagers and children. Click here to get all of the details and book your tour today! Andiamo!