From the grand hotel on the Amalfi Coast to the small restaurant inland: two young individuals take a chance in Gragnano

Feb 22 2024, 13:23
The city of pasta has a new high-end restaurant: the story of Luigi Tramontano and Nicoletta Gargiulo, who open O me o il mare restaurant

In Gragnano, an author's restaurant opens on the main street, Via Roma, which crosses the center of the city, built to channel the wind necessary for pasta drying. It is here, in an eighteenth-century building, that Luigi Tramontano and Nicoletta Gargiulo open their establishment in the second half of March.

The two— he is the chef, she is a maître sommelier and manager—after seven years at Le Agavi in Positano (and other experiences dotted with awards between the Amalfi Coast and the Sorrento Peninsula) are now on the verge of fulfilling the dream of having their own restaurant. It's called O me o il mare restaurant. The name pays homage to Luigi Tramontano's father, who was also a cook. Faced with an ultimatum (either me or the sea), he left the kitchens of cruise ships and stayed on solid ground, choosing family.

And even the establishment, which in the sign recalls this story, is a family affair: along with Luigi Tramontano and Nicoletta Gargiulo—husband and wife—there is also Vincenzo, Luigi's brother and lawyer, while the other brother Angelo is a pastry chef, and it's not hard to imagine that he will also have his role. Together, they realize the dream of having their own restaurant—a dream that was also their father's—and they do it in their hometown, away from major tourist circuits but also less saturated with high-end restaurants.

O me o il mare restaurant

"We are finalizing the work," says Tramontano, "it takes time for attention to detail: we focus on quality." He emphasizes this to accompany the presentation of the restaurant: a modern, colorful, and welcoming environment, about thirty covers and a chef table, "but it's not small, there are two rooms of 130 square meters, half dedicated to the back area with an open kitchen and the other half reserved for the dining room. In the future, we will also have another space below where we will create a cellar for Nicoletta, connected by an ancient staircase that we would like to restore to its original state, perhaps there, in addition to the cellar, we could create something else. We'll see: now we're focusing on the ground floor."

What to eat at O me o il mare restaurant

While work is underway, they reflect on the cuisine. The starting point is Campania tradition, and with it, local products: meats and vegetables, especially, "as long as I was on the Coast, I prioritized fish, but now I'm inland, it's not the same anymore." Gragnano is a stone's throw from the Lattari Mountains, with its deposits of extraordinary products: "I am looking for small local producers who can provide me with top-quality raw materials."

Small-farm lambs, for example, vegetables, and dried pasta, which obviously plays a leading role here: "All first courses are made with Gragnano pasta, and there is no rice, replaced by durum wheat pasta. We are still studying how to present it." There is no lack of some historical dishes, obviously taking into account the restaurant's different context, while for the menus, they start with three tastings: 5, 7, and the last one in the dark, with 9 courses (priced at 105, 125, and 150 euros, respectively) with the possibility of a wine pairing curated by Nicoletta Gargiulo, one of Italy's best sommeliers. "Working with my wife reassures me a lot," says Tramontano. "She tells with emphasis and passion about my dishes, my cooking philosophy, and gently pampers our guests." A dream comes true, and others are still to be achieved: "Now we are busy with a thousand things, but there are many ideas, and we still have to put them into practice."

O me o il mare Restaurant – Gragnano (NA) - via Roma 45-47 - @omeoilmare_restaurant

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram