“To victory in our time, over mediocre food,” Anthony Bourdain said, raising a glass of champagne above a table laden with fresh seafood dishes. His companion, a fellow chef, agreed, clinked glasses, and the two tucked into a meal of Italian food. As one might expect of Anthony Bourdain in Naples, the meal was unlike anything most of us in North America have ever had the pleasure to enjoy.
On his visit to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, Anthony Bourdain was following the “red sauce trail” to its source; that is, he hoped to understand the origins of Italian-American cooking in his home city of New York (specifically, the Little Italy neighborhood), and how much the two types of cuisine vary.
Anthony Bourdain visited Naples just once during his television career, in season 7 of his show No Reservations. It was his only visit to the region in any of his shows, and afforded him the chance to meet with local chefs in the region at that time (Spring 2011). I too have visited Naples just once – not too long after Tony; I was there in December 2012. Like Bourdain, I found something special in the energy and chaos of Naples, the largest city near the place my Italian ancestors came from.
If you’re curious about visiting and want to follow in the footsteps of Anthony Bourdain in Naples and along the Almafi Coast, you’ve come to the right place. This is the complete – albeit short – list of places Anthony Bourdain visited in Naples and the Campania region. I’ve also included all of the dishes he tried, so that for places that are no longer open, you can seek out those traditional and creative Italian dishes elsewhere. Ready to sink your teeth into Southern Italy?
Pizzeria Pellone (Naples)
As you might expect, no visit to Naples is complete without trying one of the most globally-appealing dishes that has ever come from the city: pizza.
While there are many traditional pizzerias across Naples, Tony makes a visit to Pizzeria Pellone. This hole-in-the-wall pizzeria is located in the historic district and specializes in the most popular type of Neopolitan pizza: the Margherita. This is what Bourdain orders (along with a lager beer), and he’s delighted by the ingredients, the simplicity, and the eating experience.
Pappacarbone (Amalfi Coast, CLOSED)
From Naples, Bourdain strikes out to explore the iconic Amalfi Coast, south of the city. My guess is that he does this to meet with fellow chefs and learn from them; he starts by joining Chef Rocco Iannone to observe the latter on an urchin-diving trip off the coast. Rocco and Tony sit down right on the rocks to enjoy the fresh uni as the waves broke nearby; they then made a trip to Chef Iannone’s restaurant, Pappacarbone.
Unfortunately, Pappacarbone is now closed, but here are the dishes Tony tried (in case you want to seek them out elsewhere). First, they tried spaghetti Fruta de Mari with garlic, clams, parsley, and spaghetti in tomato sauce. Next, Iannone prepares polpo pizzaiolo (fried octopus with tomato sauce including red oregano, olive oil, parsley, garlic, and caciocavallo cheese). They end their impromptu lunch with a fresh dish of fava beans with grilled caciocavallo, spring onions, and pancetta with seasonal artichokes and olive oil/vinegar atop.
Ristorante Al Convento (Amalfi Coast)
Next, Bourdain and his production team meet up with Chef Pasquale Torrente, who runs Restaurante Al Convento in Cetara along the Amalfi Coast. They first follow Torrente down to the marina to search for fresh seafood, then head to local produce sellers to stock up on ingredients for their meal.
The two chefs sit down to enjoy the fruits of these shopping trips, which include dishes of sweet marinated anchovies, anchovies with slow-roasted tomato, fried anchovies with spring onions, bread & anchovies meatball, fried eggplant stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella with tomato sauce, and puttanesca with fresh anchovies.
As you can tell, there’s an anchovy theme, and the two chefs discuss what Americans conceive of anchovies – and the delightful surprise they enjoy when trying them in the Campania region that includes Naples and the Amalfi Coast.
Bonus: Torrisi (Little Italy, NYC, CLOSED)
Finally, Tony ends his Naples episode where it began: in the Little Italy neighborhood of his hometown, New York City.
There, he meets with head chefs Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbonne at their restaurant, Torrisi. While this restaurant is also closed, the three chefs have a great conversation about the ideology of true Italian-American food over some incredible dishes that embody that ideology.
While you’ll be hard-pressed to find these dishes elsewhere, I still want to mention what they ate: cucumbers New Yorkese (green cucumbers and pickles at various ages with dill and mustard); raw scallop with fermented broccoli rabe; whole-roasted cauliflower with dried scallop; fried rice with sweet pork sausage and American prosciutto; lamb tongue with gyro salad; and little neck clam on the half-shell with linguini.
Local Dining Experiences Tony Had in Naples
As is often the case during his travels, Anthony Bourdain had a number of local dining experiences during his visit to Naples and the Amalfi Coast. First, he and his team crashed a Neapolitan wedding/reception; later, they visited the family home of their Neopolitan location scout/fixer for a Sunday meal of pasta ragu with Scarpetta (onion, garlic, EVOO, pork sausage, veal, pork ribs, and tomato sauce), followed by the ragu meat with wild greens.
Naples Food Tours to Try
Since Tony doesn’t visit many places in Naples, you might wonder where else to eat in the city. I recommend taking a food tour instead! Here are some food tours that embody the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Naples and along the Amalfi Coast.
Have any questions about visiting the same places as Anthony Bourdain in Naples? Let me know in the comments!