Rating: 7 / 10
This might not be the most mouthwatering meal you eat in Naples, but it probably will be the most memorable.
Located at the far end of the market, Cibi Cotti is a protective home for the old and young of this part of Naples. Lured in by the friendly service and the cheap, homecooked meals, the restaurant is packed at peak times. During covid, the majority of people seemed to drop in for take-away, but the elderly ate in situ.
Since my Italian is less than basic I struggled to order until one of the waiters appeared who spoke English. He guided me through the ordering process, pointing at the darling old nonna sitting by the cash-register and instructed me to first eat and then head over to pay.
I followed his recommendation and ate a pasta dish with cheese and potato. It was very simple, hearty food for a working class clientele, but it was tasty nonetheless. While the plate didn't set fireworks off in my mouth, the ambience and clientele were a true glimpse into real Napoli life.
People shuffled in and out ordering take-away boxes, shouting their orders, the cooks scrambling to re-fill pots and replenish trays. The air literally hummed of real life. This wasn't a restaurant drilled in appeasing tourists, this was a no frills honest eatery that regular people probably visit multiple times a week.
Upon leaving, the chef begged me to take a photo so I obliged, secretly happy because this was not a place I wanted to take photos without asking, rather hoping to take up as little space as possible and let the locals do their thing. Before I left I took one shot of the serving display and promised that I'd be back to try a more comprehensive assortment, perhaps even next week when my friend from Florence would be visiting. There is no better place than this to show the real side of Naples that most tourists miss whilst waiting for an over-rated pizza at Sorbillo.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"