When it comes to Naples, one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The first impact of the urban sprawl of Naples is decay, anarchy and crime. But look beyond the grime and graffiti and you’ll see a city of breath-taking beauty, chock with dramatic skies, panoramas and unbelievable art. The region of which Naples is capital, Campania, is often overlooked in terms of fine dining. Here is a shortlist of some of the outlying gems in the surroundings of Naples.
La Fattoria del Campiglione
The Phlegrean Peninsula town of Pozzuoli sits only a few minutes outside of the Naples city centre. This was an ancient Greek and Roman colony, an area best known for its sulphur calderas and prime seafood offer. However this laid back family trattoria serves some of the area’s best meat. Don’t miss ordering the house paccheri alla genovese, a traditional recipe made with slow-cooked veal and onions. The stew becomes the tube-shaped pasta’s dressing. The antipasti are equally tantalizing, as are, obviously, the grilled or roasted meats. Exposed brick walls, rustic wood tables and chairs and 20thousand wine bottles complete the welcome.
After visiting the Terme di Baia Roman baths of mythical fame, and the unbelievable underground Cave of the Sibyl in Cuma, head on over to the gorgeous town of Bacoli for a perfect seafood lunch cooked by Michele Grande, who inherited the family apron from his father Amedeo in the Eighties. Skip the bruschetta and go straight for the seafood salad, the black cuttlefish ink panini, the stewed baby octopus, and the vast assortment of seafood and crustacean crudo. The house specialty is however spaghetti with sea urchin.
Curti in Neapolitan dialect is the adjective used to describe people who are shorter than average height. Luigi and Antonio Ceriello, two brothers from Sant’Anastasia, located on the slopes of Mount Somma in the Vesuvian area, were Lilliputian dwarfs. After having toured all over Italy with the circus in the Twenties, they decided to return home town and take advantage of their enormous cultural baggage including knowledge of the wine and culinary traditions of the various Italian regions. In the 1952 they took over their uncle’s trattoria, now their niece Angelina Ceriello welcomes patrons with a simple Neapolitan menu. Angelina’s authentic ragù napoletano is made with local piennolo tomatoes from Mt Vesuvius; their nocillo liqueur is homemade with the nuts harvested on the family’s property.
Le Colonne Marziale
After visiting the Royal Palace in Caserta – the former royal residence constructed for the Bourbon kings of Naples and one of the largest palaces built in Europe during the 18th century – head over to Castera’s other world heritage-worthy location, Michelin star restaurant Le Colonne Marziale. Here chef Rosanna Marziale will bedazzle you with her elegant charm and her menu graced with all things mozzarella di bufala, plus seasonal and uber-local ingredients, transformed to perfection. Choose the evergreen pizza al contrario or let the chef pamper you with one of her tasting menus.
Approximately 25 kilometres east ofNaples, in the town of San Gennaro Vesuviano, named after the patron of Naples, is the restaurant of Mr Alfonso Crisci. Ever the foodie, years ago he attended professional cooking school at Gambero Rosso to broaden his skills. Then, after training around Italy, he came back home and opened a place in his native Vesuvian land. His style sticks to tradition, yet manages to create interesting modern twists on local specialties. His restaurant offers a varied menu, but gourmands flock here exclusively for the delicious baccalà dishes.
Ristorante delle Terme dello Scrajo
The natural mineral spring spa was founded in 1833for the treatment and prevention of joint, respiratory, skin and reproductive system conditions. Now this luxe hotel boasts one of the best tables in the region. With exclusive views of the Gulf of Naples, Mt Vesuvio and the bay of Capo la Gala and the cuisine of talented chef Danilo Di Vuolo the one-hour drive to Vico Equense will be more than justified. Surf and turf characterise his menu, with one common denominator: passion for local ingredients.
The Izzo family has built the reputation of this Michelin star restaurant located in the resort town of Castellammare di Stabia from the ground up. The menu is in constant evolution, ingredients are sourced among the area’s best, and the experiments carried out by chef Luigi Salomone are the hallmark traits of the family’s commitment to quality. The modern and elegant ambience, delicious creative cuisine, excellent grilled meat dishes – particularly the Cornish hen served with corn, capers and coffee powder – and attentive service complete the offer. The impressive wine list is beautifully paired to the food by expert sommelier Emanuele Izzo.
Michelin star Ristorante President in Pompeii is located at a stone’s throw from the Madonna di Pompeii Sanctuary and the archaeological site. Paolo Gramaglia, the chef and owner, in tandem with his wife and sommelier Laila Buondonno, inherited the family business opened in 1993.The menu spans traditional dishes with ancient local recipes, as well as creative interpretations and modern creations. Asia influences the ingredient list and the ambiance is elegant yet welcoming, as if in the owners’ own elegant home.
Le Scuderie di Villa Favorita
Gennaro Salvo is part of one of the area’s most prominent families in the world of pizza. After maturing experience with pros like Ciro Salvo, Gino Sorbillo as well as a stint baking pizza al portafoglio in Naples on via Toledo, he has finally returned home and to continue the family tradition. The quality pies, fine beer and traditional Neapolitan music piped softly in the garden are so worth the 1-hour drive from Naples.
Vincenzo Di Prisco does not just bake a mean pizza, he is the mastermind behind the multi-functional space in Torre del Greco: comprised in the Palazzo Vialdo is a Japanese restaurant, a sandwich shop and a gourmet deli for sourcing fine quality goods. After training under pizzaiolo Gianfranco Iervolino, the maestro’s teachings continue with well-executed pizzas. Our favourite is the “pizza 4 Portoni” a pie topped with 4 different blue cheeses made with buffalo milk, added with citrus jam. A further bonus is the take-away and pizza delivery service.
La Fattoria del Campiglione | Pozzuoli (NA) | via Vicinale Campana 2 | Tel. 081.5263733 | www.lafattoriadelcampiglione.it
La Bifora | Bacoli (NA) | via Virgilio 210 | Tel. 081.8687324 | www.facebook.com/labifora
‘E Curti | Sant’Anastasia (NA) | via Padre Michele Abete 6 | Tel. 081.8972821 | http://www.e-curti.it
Le Colonne Marziale | Caserta (CS) | viale G. Douhet 7 | Tel. 0823.467494 | www.lecolonnemarziale.it
Taverna Vesuviana | San Gennaro Vesuviano (NA) | via Nuova Saviano 207 | Tel. 081.5286181 | www.facebook.com/tavernavesuviana
Il Ristorante delle Terme | Vico Equense (NA) | via Luigi Serio SS145 10 | Tel. 081.8015731 | www.scrajoterme.it
Piazzetta Milù | Castellammare di Stabia (NA) | corso A. De Gasperi 23 | Tel. 081.715779 | www.piazzettamilu.it
Ristorante President | Pompei (NA) | piazza Schettini 12 | Tel. 081.8507245 | www.ristorantepresident.it
Le Scuderie di Villa Favorita | Ercolano (NA) | corso Resina 330-332 | Tel. 081.7778052 | www.facebook.com/lescuderiedivillafavorita
Palazzo Vialdo | Torre del Greco (NA) | via Nazionale 981 | Tel. 081.8471624 | www.palazzovialdo.it
by Eleonora Baldwin