Italian food is synonymous with comfort food. Expect to be in a carb coma while the gelato ferries sprinkle Parmesan and mince garlic all over you.

Italy has some of the most world renowned European cuisine you'll come across, and every region will have their specialties. A certain way they do one thing, or a special dish that's only really available there.

Naples has a couple of these dishes, and although we're going to list them here, you'll find all of these foods wherever you go in Italy - so don't panic if you aren't hitting Naples.

Naples is very local driven in terms of food, so although you'll get these everywhere, trying them in Naples or even smaller towns will ensure you really get some good tasting local cuisine!

1. Neapolitan Pizza

Made from tomato, mozzarella, and basil. Super simple, delicious oven baked base that has a great amount of salt- and the olive oil tops it off perfectly.

Don't expect a New York style pizza with a bunch of crazy toppings. This won't have pepperoni, bacon, mushrooms, peppers, or pineapple. This is an authentic Naples pizza, and the simplicity is what makes it so delicious. You could close your eyes and count the flavors and ingredients easily.

Neapolitan Pizza | Thrifty Backpacker

2. Gelato Ice Cream

After you've downed that pizza, it's time for dessert. Gelato can be found everywhere in Italy and is loved by locals and tourists both. Who doesn't like ice cream right?

The quality is above and beyond with the Gelato you'll find across Italy. The Italians know there stuff. You can get a variety of flavors from fruity to your classic chocolate and vanilla variety. Naples especially has a lot considering it's coastal and a literal hot-spot during the summer.

Gelato in Naples | Thrifty Backpacker

3. Espresso

The most popular coffee style in the world of course originated in Italy, so as you'd expect, it's very much on point. The coffee and cafe culture in Italy is very different to that of the US and other places, you don't sit down, and you most certainly don't order lattes.

The cafes are busy in the morning and are set up like a bar would be. You order espresso coffees that are absolutely the best you'll ever have, full stop. And you drink them right then and there at the 'bar.'

You don't order a double espresso or anything either. When you finish your single, you order another, and another until you're well caffeinated. And in Naples they'll cost you 1 euro a pop, amazing.

Espresso in Naples | Thrifty Backpacker

Even if you aren't a coffee fan, going into a cafe and ordering a... kafe (which will be an espresso coffee by default) is an experience you should have.

Watching the Italians chatting it up in the morning before they go about their day, maybe having a pastry while they enjoy their coffee over the few minutes it takes to drink - it's just great to watch.

4. Meatballs With Ragu

Not spaghetti bolognese, or pasta with ragu sauce - just large meatballs, with ragu sauce (a tomato and meat sauce), covered in Parmesan. This will be some of the most hearty food you could eat in Italy. Get some bread or pasta on the side and you'll be a happy backpacker.

Meatballs, Ragu & Parmesan | Thrifty Backpacker

Just like other hearty foods in Italy, expect a combination of creamy tomato, garlic and olive oil when these balls of deliciousness hit your tongue.

5. Gnocchi

A trip to Italy wouldn't be complete without gorging on the carb on carb action that is Gnocchi. If you haven't tried it, it's thick but soft, mini dumpling style pasta made from potatoes usually but can be made from cheese, egg or even regular flour - it's delicious and a staple on this list.

Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography on Unsplash

It's usually topped with more cheese, and some greens, most likely basil but there are many varieties so don't be shy, try out a few.

6. Vino Sfuso

Italy, and Europe in general, has some of the highest quality wine you can buy and the best thing about it - it's extremely cheap. Vino Sfuso is the cheap tap wine that you'll find all across Italy and it was a cool discovery for me personally - so much so that I wrote a whole article about it.

The Cheap Tap Wine of Italy | Vino Sfuso, A Hidden Gem
How I found out about cheap and delicious tap wine in Italy. Vino Sfuso - Wine for 2€ a bottle. How to find it, where they’re located, tips, and links.

I found out about this while I was in Naples and it's become my go to option when getting wine.

This won't be the best thing in the world, but by Italian standards, it's not only great but a right of passage. You bring your empty bottle over and they'll fill it up from the wine that's on tap, cork it for you - all for 2 euros.

They can be hard to find, so make sure to check out the article above for some details and locations.

7. Any Pasta You Can Get Your Hands On

From tagliatelle to linguine, you're going to be spoiled for choice with all the delicious pasta that's going to be available in nearly every restaurant.

The sauce will be thick, flavorful, and hearty with all the herbs and garlic - of course depending on the type of pasta.

The pasta itself will have been made from scratch that same day; fresh ingredients all round, years of experience in making pasta, all built on centuries of culture, comes together with these amazing dishes you'll get to taste.

The pasta usually comes with cheese on it but there will also be a separate container of Parmesan on the table ready for sprinkling on that extra bit of cheese. And you and me both know that the extra sprinkle will always be a part of the experience 😋

Photo by Paolo Caropreso

Hope you're excited about trying all these amazing foods, treats, and beverages. Let me know if you think something else belongs on this list in the comments below!

Happy eating,

Sah