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There’s only so much of the best pizza in the world that we can eat, and it was time to delve a little further under the skin of Naples Italy. This is how we ended up spending a night eating our way down Via dei Tribunali.
This revelation hit us as we were standing outside the famous Da Michele pizzeria. The line was long with what looked to be a two-hour wait.
We had taken a number for this pizza experience, and we were lucky number 94. They had just called 52. We were standing among what seemed to be the largest group of tourists in the city, and we were starting to get cranky. So… we left.
We ate at Da Michele during our second trip to Naples. Click here to see what we thought about the most iconic Naples pizzeria.
During our amazing pizza-focused meal at Pizzaria La Notizia, we had the good fortune of chatting with a friendly couple, a Michelin chef and his girlfriend, at the next table.
The food-focused couple recommended a trattoria across from the entrance to Napoli Sotterranea on Via dei Tribunali. Since they couldn’t remember the name of the trattoria or the address, they drew a map and insisted that we would easily find their favorite trattoria.
After the Da Michele pizza fail, we briefly thought about trying another of the city’s famed pizzeria. That’s when we instead decided to take a chance and try to find the recommended trattoria without knowing the name or address.
And so began our night on Via dei Tribunali.
Night on Via dei Tribunali
Via dei Tribunali is a historic street in the ancient part of Naples. In other words, the street is old.
By day, the street is filled with shops and markets, with many pizza restaurants blending into the graffiti-filled streetscape. At night, the street comes to life. There are people strolling. There are people eating. There are even people moving furniture.
As for us, our night on Via dei Tribunali can best be split into three parts. All three parts involved food, no surprise there.
Part 1 – Fried Food
As we strolled down Via dei Tribunali looking for the mystery trattoria, we couldn’t help but notice people queued at the various pizzerias. Interestingly, the people weren’t buying pizza. Instead, they were eating decadently crispy fried food in various shapes and sizes.
It turns out that many of the pizzerias on Via dei Tribunali are also friggitorias. A friggitoria is a place that sells fried things, also known as heaven. As culinary explorers, we had to check this out. We couldn’t eat too much since we were on our way to dinner, so we tried arancini at Di Matteo.
The arancini was fried to a beautiful golden shade, and it seemed almost a shame to bite into such perfection. But once inside the crispy balls, we got the tasty payoff – a melting, oozy risotto, tomato sauce and sausage center.
Part 2 – Trattoria Dinner
Before long, we found Trattoria da Carmine, a restaurant that describes itself as an “old typical Neapolitan home cooking dal 1967”. It was in the exact spot described to us by the Michelin chef and his partner, so we knew that we were in the right place. We peeked at the menu, looked inside and knew that we had found our home for the evening.
Trattoria da Carmine is a comfortable restaurant serving a wide variety of simple, authentic Neapolitan food. It’s the kind of place you can go with your sweetheart for a date or with a big group of friends. The advantage of going with a big group is that you can order a lot of different dishes.
When you eat out in Italy, it is expected that you order bottled water as opposed to drinking tap water. This is no problem for us, as we adore fizzy water. House wine is typically a good value and very drinkable, far better than house wine in the United States.
The beverage list is no exception at Trattoria da Carmine, where full carafes of house wines can be ordered for just six euros. We quickly ordered our water and two half carafes – one white and one red.
The menu at Trattoria da Carmine is extensive, featuring the standard Italian breakdown of primi piatti (starters), secondi piatti (main dishes) and contorni (side dishes). We started with antipasto di mare, a colorful plate of fresh, sweet local seafood. Oh yeah, did we mention that they also have a great seafood culture in Naples?
Most of the dishes were delivered together which allowed us to have a sort of smorgasbord of fresh tomatoes, roasted peperoncini, pasta and meatballs.
Though we can order similar dishes at a myriad of Italian restaurants in Philadelphia, these dishes, so casually placed on the checkered tablecloth covered table, were elevated to a fine dining experience due to the quality of the locally grown ingredients.
There’s just something special about eating tomatoes grown near Mount Vesuvius when you’re actually mere miles from the famous volcano.
Our favorite dishes were the Fusilli all Sorrentina featuring fresh, non-corkscrew shaped pasta and the Polpette al Sugo, perfectly textured meatballs in tomato sauce.
As we chowed down on the little plates of freshly prepared local food, we listened to local musicians who strolled in and out of the trattoria and watched the mostly local crowd enjoy the simple food and relaxed atmosphere.
A trattoria meal is the kind of meal that satisfies all of the senses without breaking the bank. We enjoyed the meal to the last bite and saved just enough room for dessert.
Trattoria da Carmine is located at Via dei Tribunali, 330, 80138 Napoli, Italy.
Part 3 – Dessert
Via dei Tribunali is a good street for strolling after a big meal. We were tempted by the fried foods at the various stalls, but we had just saved enough room for dessert. Lucky for us, there are lots of cafes and bakeries intermingled with the pizzerias along the busy thoroughfare.
Naples is known for baked goods including the flaky, cheese-filled sfogliatelles. But it was late and Daryl was having a chocolate fix, so we opted to share a classic-looking sacher torte, an espresso… and a limoncello. Southern Italy met Austria, and they got along just fine.
We floated back to our hotels, seemingly propelled by the wafting aromas of fried food that permeated the air. It was a perfect final night in a city that will never leave our thoughts.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.