Eating in Italy is a religious experience. Eating in Campania, well…..let’s just say it is one of a kind. What is great about the food in Naples and it’s surroundings you say? Wellllllll…….Let’s start off with the basics. Tomatoes. The best tomatoes in the world come from this area. Namingly, the “Pommodori di San Marzano”
This is the queen bee of sauce tomatoes. Much like the roma, or plum, it is slightly longer and thinner, and juicy so perfect for that “Marinara” sauce on your pizza, or pasta.
Then there’s “Mozzarella di Bufala”. This also hails from this region. Delicious, sometimes tangy taste of pure Buffalo milk.
And then of course there’s “Pasta di Grangnano trafilata al Bronzo”…..which is basically, excuse my home region of Emilia-Romagna, the best dry pasta, or Pasta Asciutta, your money can buy.
And of course, I cannot forget all the seafood. From squid, mussels, clams, octopus, and the queen of the sea, Ricciola, or Greater Amber Jack as we would call it.
But there is also the lemons….to make Limoncello, Granita, Salads, Lemonade……it is really a rich and diverse food basket that serves all of Italy, and the world.
Well, you know that one of the main reasons I went there was to eat. So eat we did. Here is the best of the best that we found in Napoli and around!
Our first night we were basically directed by a young lad to try “Oste Pazzo” restaurant, near the Lungomare and right below the “Castell dell’ Ovo”.
The waiters basically harassed (well, not too much, I mean, in terms of food you really don’t have to push me too far) to try the “Antipasto Tipico Napoletano” This was basically comprised of a few octopus and squid salads with the typical “Fritti misti di pesce”. That is mixed fried seafood. I love me some fried food. And it was awesome.
On the left is fried baby squid, quite like what we get here in Spain, but they were absolutely tiny and tender, and the batter was crazy good, crunchy, just a tad spicy, perfect. In the middle we had two fritters with “neonati”, basically little fish in a delicious parsley spiked batter. And on the right, fried white anchovies. Paolo, my sweetie, wasn’t a big fan of these, he thought it was too fishy. I however, loved it. Something about munching on these, or any anchovy, is truly delicious.
Next up on the friend band wagon, is the Arancini. I love arancini, and have featured them before on my blog. But I have always eaten the Sicilian variety. Never had I tried the Neapolitan ones.
On the left is the anemic looking “Arancino Bianco”, or white arancino, and on the right is the, you guessed it, “Arancino Rosso”, red arancino. I was in for a huge surprise. What looked like the bland, plain white arancino, turned out to be the tastiest one! The white one stuffed with a pork sausage type of filling, and the rice was chock full of pepper and cheese. It was absolutely amazing. The red one, on the other hand, was more balanced, but also, less flavourful. It is red because they cooked the rice with tomato sauce, and then it stuffed with a tomato meat sauce. Both were delicious, but the white one won!
Neapolitans love their fried food. Nary a street corner or restaurant menu that wasn’t filled with these guilty pleasures! Even for breakfast. Upon arriving to the hotel we were instructed to go to a café called “Scaturchio”, a hundred year old café that has some pretty amazing pastries, and Napoli’s most famous, the Sfogliata. Sfogliata is a filo-type pastry filled with sweet ricotta and candied fruits. And one of the bonuses, is it’s served warm!
The pastry selection at Scaturchio
Sfogliata Pastry from Scaturchio
It was delicious! Crispy and buttery on the outside, warm, dense and moist on the inside. Perfectly warm, so all you had to do was enjoy it without letting a drop of the ricotta fall!
In Capri, I mentioned we had a lunch with a view. But obviously one of the things I wanted to eat in Capri was the Caprese Salad…..I mean, that is its birthplace! So simple, but let me tell you, it was the best Caprese I have ever had.
Gorgeous, juicy, vine ripe “Cuore di Bue” tomatoes, with perfect spheres of “Mozzarella di Bufala”, accompanied only by a bit of rucola, extra virgin olive oil, and some salt and freshly cracked pepper. Perfection on a plate!
We also enjoyed the “Insalata di Polipo con Agrumi”. Octopus salad with citrus fruits. This dish was made for summer in Naples. Meaty, tender octopus bathed in lemon juice. So refreshing for the unbearable heat!
Paolo decided to go for the pasta, which was equally delicious, but I was trying to be “good” that day. He had a very typical pasta that I have only tasted on this trip, called Sciallatielle. This is a thick, flat, medium long noodle. This pasta had been made fresh that day, and topped with Shrimp and cherry tomato sauce.
The shrimp in Naples are less briny than our mediterranean counterparts, equally delicious, but sweeter, and it complements the absolute star of this dish, the tomatoes. Bursting with flavor!
Now the dessert here at Punta Tragara deserves special mention. I was not very impressed by the title, Almond Crumble with Limoncello pastry cream. But Holy Moses!!!!! What an incredible dessert it is! It is part lemon meringue, part lemon curd, part cheesecake crust! All topped with the most beautiful and colorful summer berries.
In Positano, we went to a restaurant called “Le Tre Sorelle” that a friend of mine recommended. It was a perfect beach-side lunch. Although, Paolo chose the better (in terms of beachy-ness) option, but I just couldn’t be that close to Sorrento and not have “Gnocchi alla Sorrentina” which has to be one of my favorite dishes in the world.
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is gnocchi with a tomato and mozzarella sauce. But this was definitely the best I have tasted. Again, it comes down to the tomatoes my friends……I am having withdrawal symptoms already.
Paolo ordered the fish, with an “Aqua Pazza” Sauce. The fish was perfectly cooked, fork tender and juicy. Again….with amazing tomatoes and this time, potatoes!
The presentation is gorgeous too, I have to say.
Oh my goodness….I can’t believe I forgot our starter at Tre Sorelle…..Zucchini Flowers stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto. Just sublime. I mean, it doesn’t get any better than this lunch. Until the next one I guess. Ok, I am a sucker, they are all really good.
And on our last night, we went uphill in one of Naples’ ritzier and more residential areas to a restaurant called “La Sacrestia”. The menu looked amazing, the views were breathtaking, of the bay and Vesuvius. Unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of the view, because the sun had already set….but here’s one so you can imagine!
Also unfortunately, the restaurant was due to close the next day for holidays, so they didn’t have many of the dishes on the menu. One of the dishes I wanted to eat was the Ricciola, the fish I had spoken about before. But instead, they brought out a little tasting dish of pasta that really amazed me! And I ended up recreating it at home. I was really, really surprised because when they described it, it just sounded, well, blah. It was Pasta with Mussels, Cherry tomatoes, Pepperoncino and Pecorino.
I loved it. Obviously, the ingredients are the best of the best, so why bother adding more things that are unnecessary? Gorgeous.
Well kids, I hope you enjoyed my culinary extravaganza of a trip through Campania. Tomorrow…….PIZZA!