A few days ago I posted a picture in the stories of my Instagram profile. The picture showed a classic Margherita pizza in a takeaway box, and I asked a simple question: what’s the price of this pizza?
The range of answers coming from profiles from all around the world made me wonder: do people have any idea how much is pizza in Naples? So I decided to provide the ultimate answer.
Fact: there’s no ultimate answer to this question. Not anymore, at least. Things have changed a lot in the last decade in terms of how the pizza business has evolved in Naples, and consequently, prices followed up.
Not so long ago, in fact, it would have been easier to provide a definite answer: prices for a pizza were almost all the same in Naples.
But we need to be clear on one thing: what do we mean by “Naples”? Despite its postcard appearance, the city is big, divided into several neighborhoods which differ a lot in terms of lifestyle and prices. Also, we have to consider the Greater metropolitan area (Greater Naples) which includes the whole Neapolitan province, and other municipalities in the nearby provinces that, for geographical and cultural reasons, can be considered a wider extension of the city of Naples itself.
However, prices in the Campania region don’t differ that much. So consider the following range of prices as applicable to the whole region. Let’s not go further than that, though, as to comment variation of prices for pizza in the rest of Italy will need a deeper analysis. Let’s focus on the pizza motherland for our convenience.
How much does a pizza cost in Naples? Here are the average prices:
Margherita: 4-5 €
Marinara: 3.50-4 €
Now we need to get deeper and explain a couple of things.
Prices for a pizza in the central urban area of Naples are higher than what you would pay in the outskirts or the residential areas of the province.
The reason is simple: the rent for any premises in the center is considerably higher than what the owner of a pizzeria would pay further outside of it. That is valid for any city in the world.
On the other side, having a pizzeria in a densely populated area almost guarantees that the number of daily orders will be really high for both table service and delivery/takeaway. In this way, even a higher rental cost can be amortized through the sales.
In fact, for most of the historical pizzerias in Naples, we can often see the price of a Margherita under 5 euros. In some cases, the premises belong to the owners or are tied by a very old rental contract dating back decades ago. Thus reducing the cost of the business.
Newly opened pizza restaurants, however, will unlikely to serve you a Margherita for less than 5 euros.
What happens if we move outside of the historical center? That depends on the area of Naples where we travel to. Some neighborhoods are pretty high-end (Chiaja, Posillipo, and Vomero are known to be classy areas). That affects prices. A Margherita at Ciro Salvo’s 50 Kalo in piazza Sannazzaro, near the promenade by the sea, sets at 6.50 €. Brandi’s Margherita, located in Sant’Anna di Palazzo, sells its Margherita at 7.50 € because… well, it’s Brandi, the supposed inventor of pizza Margherita.
Other areas of the cities are run-down, and you can still find places where you could pay a Margherita the same price you would have paid fifteen years ago: 3.50 €.
Note that this can be applied also to the other municipalities of the Greater Naples area. Living in a small town miles away from the center doesn’t mean that you will automatically pay less. Like everywhere, even in the province the cost of life can differ a lot from town to town. For example, I live among three municipalities where just crossing the borders means the cost of an apartment increases considerably.
It’s also worth mentioning that the majority of new contemporary pizzerias open in the province. These restaurants have a different concept of the product and the service provided, and this affects the price tag: a Margherita can cost up to 6€ in these places. We will get back on the topic in another article.
What about the rest of the Campania region? Now, things are getting tricky, for several reasons.
There are a lot of great pizzerias opening up in small, forgotten towns. Actually, some of them are putting those towns on the map. A notable example is Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo.
But the hinterland of Campania is not as densely populated as the Greater Naples area, and people live with different habits. In these small towns, pizzeria only open for dinner service (or, if they’re restaurants, they open for lunch but they only serve pizza for dinner). And sometimes they don’t even provide a delivery service.
These pizzerias work with a perfectly calculated amount of dough to make every night, to minimize waste. This way, they can reduce their food cost, but at the same time, they are aware their number of orders will be lower. Of course, rental costs are way less than a big urban center like Naples, therefore all the expenses balance up. The price for a Margherita can vary between 4.50-5 € depending on the place.
Now, let’s ask ourselves another question: what’s the difference in price between a pizza served at a table, the takeaway, and the delivery?
Again, there’s not a unique answer.
Some pizzerias in Naples have different menu prices for restaurant service and takeaway/delivery. Sitting at a table means that every item on the menu will cost around 1 more euro. This is especially true for modern pizzerias, which provide a different level of service and care compared to old ones.
Modern, however, doesn’t mean newly opened. There a lot of pizzerias that have opened last week, but with the same business concept of a traditional Neapolitan pizzeria in mind: simple and cheap pizzas, nothing that makes use of particularly elaborated recipes or expensive ingredients.
The business model of these pizzerias is pretty popular in vast residential areas, both in the center and the province, as they cater to the needs of thousands of families with the habit of having a pizza at least once a week. You can have an idea of the amount of work of these places by looking at the pile of pizza boxes displayed at the entrance.
Some of these businesses are so into providing just food and nothing more, that they open as takeaway/delivery only. They rent very small spaces, enough for the oven and the counter, work with a very high number of orders and a few range of ingredients, of medium quality and buy them in huge bulks. The result? You can order a Margherita for 3.50 € and sometimes not even paying for the delivery. The Margherita I posted on Instagram cost me exactly that price (and it’s the one you see in the picture above)
At the end of this article, we haven’t considered one voice on the expenses: food cost. Are all pizzas the same? Of course not. Modern pizzerias work with excellent ingredients that are way expensive than the ones used years ago. Today customers are more demanding and informed about the kind of food we eat, and pizzaioli of the new generation are keeping up with the restaurant trends to provide a better and better experience. Master pizza chef Enzo Coccia, who in Naples was the originator of a new concept of pizza that focuses on high-quality ingredients, sells his Margherita at 8 €.
But not everyone has Coccia’s established reputation, and many other pizza entrepreneurs know they can’t exceed certain prices on the menu, to avoid uproars from a population used to eat well, and a lot, for low prices. So they have to work hard to keep providing an excellent product reducing their profit margins. Times are changing, true, and people are more willing to pay more to have a quality pizza in return. But, like pizzerias, people are not all the same, and there are still a lot of Neapolitans who think that paying 5 € for a Margherita is a rip-off.
It’s a complex debate, which needs to keep in consideration several of other factors we have barely touched here. But I hope with this article I have at least provided you a better idea of what you should pay for a pizza in Naples and the Campania region.
How much do you pay for pizza where you live? Please, let me know in the comments, and also give me an opinion of the Neapolitan reality I described to you if you like.