What Is Neapolitan Pasta?

Uniqueness is a hard trait to come by when it comes to perusing through different types of cuisine. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing. Many cuisines borrow ideas from other cuisines and add their own spin to them, creating a unique and delicious flavor that the original creators would never have thought of. Neapolitan pasta is a fantastic example of this innovation. It is a delicious option that borrows elements from existing cuisines to create its unique flavor. 

What is this dish, and what makes it so unique from other pasta dishes? We break it down for you below.

The Dish Itself

Neapolitan pasta is a pasta variation that was first introduced by chef Shigetada Irie, a Japanese chef at Hotel New Grand in Yokohama. The dish is a combination of soft-cooked spaghetti, tomato ketchup, onions, green peppers, sausage, and bacon. The word ‘Neapolitan’ was derived from the Italian word ‘Napoli,’ which is known today as Naples, Italy. As a pasta variation on its own, Neapolitan pasta has further variations to it. Some of them include Manfredi con la ricotta, pasta alla capresse, sugo alla Genovese, spaghetti alla puttanesca, spaghetti alla puveriello, etc. 

It’s NOT Italian?

When people hear the word ‘pasta,’ they automatically assume it’s an Italian dish. However, not all pasta variations originate from Italy. Neapolitan pasta is one of those variations. This pasta originated in postwar Yokohama in Japan. Chef Shigetada was inspired by the spaghetti and tomato sauce dish served to the American military during this period. So, he decided to experiment with the dish. However, the tomato sauce was rare during that time, making him use tomato ketchup as a substitute. Therefore, Neapolitan pasta is only named after Naples,  a region in Italy, it’s not an Italian dish.

Tomato Ketchup

Tomato ketchup is the main ingredient in Neapolitan pasta. Without it, the dish would be like any other pasta. However, most people are not usually receptive to this dish because they’ve grown to appreciate ketchup only as a condiment. So, seeing ketchup in pasta as an ingredient might be a little off-putting. However, this ingredient isn’t as disgusting as people think. When you caramelize it in butter, onions, and red bell peppers, it tastes almost the same as tomato paste which goes well with pasta. So, before discarding this dish as an option, you might want to try it out. You’d be amazed at how good it tastes. 


Uniqueness in dishes is often rare. However, this isn’t so much of an issue because people draw inspiration from various dishes to create a unique variation. Neapolitan pasta is one of those dishes that experiments with tomato ketchup to create an amazing meal. 

You can get the most authentic Italian experience without a plane ticket when you dine with Trattoria Il Panino and our fantastic pasta options in the North End. Make a reservation with us today to get the best Italian food possible!