Bar Napoli – Italian Restaurant, Edinburgh
Bar Napoli is close to my heart. Not only because of the amazing quality of food, and the wonderful service which always feels filled with expertise and friendliness, but because it is a place I have been coming for birthdays and special occasions since I was 13. That’s almost 10 years now!
It’s not just family tradition that makes Bar Napoli a huge soft spot for me, but the fact that it delivers every time. The quality of the food, the atmosphere, and the waiters – some of which I also have come to know for 10 years through all these birthdays and special occasions – all contribute to creating one of the cosiest yet energising feelings. It is like a vacuum where no matter what the weather is outside or the situation in your life, going inside always envelops you in the same enriching energy. It reminds me of one of those restaurants in Paris in the 20s, which seems to be always open, always full of people and chatter and warm light. Going inside, you wonder what you have been missing; eager to be part of it and allow it to engulf you.
It’s comforting and charming, yet modern, with stylish black and white photographs of Italian actors and actresses, like Al Pacino and Sofia Loren sprinkled all over the walls in that warm yet abundant lighting. The fact that this restaurant is tucked slightly underneath on a busy street near the centre, where you have to go down a few steps to enter, also contributes to making it seem secret and exclusive.
Bar Napoli always has people coming in and out, and yet when you are in there you feel so safely encapsulated away from the harsh realities of life. It is like being in the pasta dish itself – once inside everything smells Italian and everyone sounds Italian. Whether the waiters have come up from London to study, or have been living in Edinburgh for a while; whether they are younger or older, there is not a single waiter or waitress I have met there who was not Italian, which adds to its sense of authentic Italian dining. They are always engaging and happy to chat, sometimes even can be silly and playful.
The food is incredible; light, fresh and filled with flavour, and the portions are incredibly generous – whenever I am there with someone we have a challenge to see who can finish their plates! Yet the quality is never compromised (this is no Bella Italia) and best of all – the prices are very reasonable! The menu is large, yet the dishes in them are all very well thought out; offering a range of options while also providing the best view of Italy clearly culminated from years of experience, which I think is what makes it so popular with all different kinds of guests.
I have seen so many different groups of people come here. While it does get very busy sometimes, Bar Napoli never feels too much, or alien. If anything, the congregation of vast amount of different people only makes it feel homelier – whether they are girlfriends from Japan or a 5-lad business group from Germany, there is still a feeling of connectedness in here.
Bar Napoli has two floors going downwards, but it is sitting on the top main floor, on which there is usually always space to accommodate, which gives you this incredible experience. So, whether you get the choice upon spontaneously entering or have to prebook – choose here, where you can see the chefs making pizza just behind the counter, and the sweet waiters bustling around you, balancing plates, always well dressed, and whipping their pen over their ears with a smile to take your family’s picture on your polaroid.
Ultimately, going here gives me the feeling of visiting a 5-star hotel because of how it feels like you are getting more than just ‘food’. It’s like a spa for the food soul. Or like watching your favourite Christmas movie at Christmas – a movie which you can always rewatch, and it still makes you feel good. The energy in Bar Napoli is revitalising and reminds you of the good things. That no matter how life goes or what changes, you can come back here and everything feels timeless.