Monday 31 August 2015

Il Comandante, Naples #MichelinStar

As well as trying to find the ‘best pizza in Naples’ and eating in the local trattorie and alike, on our recent trip to Italy, we ate at three 1 Michelin starred restaurants – Mammà (on the island of Capri), il Comandante (located in our hotel, Romeo) and SUD (in the nearby town of Quarto). We had also wanted to visit Palazzo Petrucci but it was closed for August.

The food at il Comandante certainly looked the part, but overall it seemed to lack the clarity of flavour and depth that we have come to expect from Michelin starred food. This was a real shame as the kitchen had certainly put a great deal of effort into artful presentation.

What Michelin say, ‘The views from this restaurant on the top floor of the futurist Romeo hotel extend from the port to the Bay of Naples. The original, modern interior is equally attractive, while the cuisine surprises guests with its sophisticated simplicity and elegant presentation.

Seppia con emulsion di cardamomo agli agrumi, latte de soia e olive nere
Cuttlefish with cardamom citrus emulsion, soy milk & black olives

Battuta di Fassona con fonduta di parmigiano, anacardi, uovo marinato e pepe rosa
Fassona beef with parmesan fondue, cashews, marinated egg & pink pepper

Cannelloni di ricotta con maionese di acciughe e crema di broccoletti
Cannelloni stuffed pasta with ricotta, anchovies mayonnaise & broccoli cream

Triglia con crema bianca di zucchini, edamame e aglio nero fermentato
Red mullet with white courgette cream, edamame & fermented black garlic

Linguina di Gragnano con Anguilla arrosto, alloro e pomodori secchi
Gragnano linguini pasta with grilled eel, bay leaves & dried tomatoes

Diaframma di manzo con cipollotti caramellati al limone e gel di prezzemolo
Beef diaphragm with lemon caramelised onions & parsley gelée

Mousse di yoghurt con crema di limone di Sorrento, meringa alla lavanda e croccante al miele
Yoghurt mousse with Sorrento lemon cream, lavender flavoured meringue & honey brittle

For us, the best part of the meal was the view of Vesuvius. I wish I could be more positive but we found the food lackluster – taste wise, one of the most disappointing Michelin starred meals we’ve eaten.

Sunday 30 August 2015

Mammà, Capri #MichelinStar

On our recent trip to Italy, as well as trying to find the ‘best pizza in Naples’ and eating in the local trattorie and alike, we ate at three 1 Michelin starred restaurants – Mammà (on the island of Capri), il Comandante (located in our hotel, Romeo) and SUD (in the nearby town of Quarto). We had also wanted to visit Palazzo Petrucci but it was closed for August.

The pick of the bunch for us was undoubtedly SUD but Mammà was also excellent – partly down to the food but largely thanks to the views and overall Capri experience.

Arriving on the island midmorning gave us enough time to enjoy a slice of traditional Torta caprese at the Piccolo Bar, the oldest of the four bars in piazza Umberto 1.

Mammà is located a short walk from the bustling “La Piazzetta” though a network of characterful medieval, vaulted paths – once inside, the view of the Marina Grande and the Gulf of Naples is breath taking – a delightful and memorable setting for lunch. 

We ate refined versions of local and regional favourites. The Parmigiana de melanzane was particularly good as was the Tagliatelle dish with its gossamer thin ribbons of freshly made pasta. Where better to enjoy a Caprese salad than in this setting on the island of Capri?

What Michelin say, ‘Just a stone's throw from the famous piazzetta, this charming restaurant decorated in Mediterranean colours bears the mark of Michelin-starred chef Gennaro Esposito. The focus is on the flavours of the Campania region while also paying tribute to traditional dishes from Capri.

Insalata Caprese
Caprese salad “Salad of Capri"

Parmigiana de melanzane
Augbergines parmigiana

Insalata de seppie finocchi e sedano bianco
Cuttlefish salad with fennel & white celery

Tagliatelle di pasta all’uovo con ragú bianco e peperoni gratinati
Tagliatelle with white ragú & gratinated sweet red peppers

Paccheri al ragú di polpo
Paccheri pasta with octopus ragú

Fritto misto con verdure di stagione
Mixed fried fish with seasonal vegetables

Zuppetta di melone cantalupo al basilica con sorbetto
Cantaloupe melon & basil soup served with sorbet

I recently discovered that Capri is twinned with Crosby in Merseyside, if you’re not planning a trip to Capri, why not check out Albina in Crosby.  

Saturday 29 August 2015

48 hours in Naples

Having recently spent ten days in the “the city of sun”, you may have seen my ‘A guide to eating in Naples’ and ‘Ten of the best pizzas in Naples’ posts, but were left undecided about where to eat if in town for just a couple of days.

Some of the best pizzas in Naples are to be found a little way out of the main city centre – top places include La Notizia (Via Caravaggio, 94 or Via Caravaggio, 53), 50 Kalò (Piazza Sannazaro, 201B) and Starita (Via Materdei, 27)) – these may not be overly convenient, although they are “doable” in a short taxi ride.

“The done thing” is to have pizza at one (or all) of the much lauded yet touristy Da Michele (Via Sersale, 1/3), Sorbillo (Via Tribunali, 38) or Di Matteo (Via dei Tribunali, 94) – each of these are good and are certainly places to tick of a list”. Di Matteo also serve a good pizze fritte (fried pizza).

I find downside of the popular places is that you can expect to spend a good portion of your valuable time in the city queuing, when equally good pizzas (in my opinion) can be had at less touristy places such as, Trianon (Via Pietro Colletta, 44/46), La Figlia Del Presidente (Via Grande Archivio 23) and Al 22 (Via Pignasecca 22).

Pizzas aside, Trattoria la Campagnola (Via dei Tribunali, 47) is an popular place to find local cuisine but again queuing time should be taken into consideration – for me, the likes of Osteria da Tonino (Via S. Teresa a Chiaia, 47) and La Vecchia Cantina (Vico S. Nicola Alla Carità) offer a similar experience and quality of food without the touristy vibe and queues. L'Europeo Di Mattozzi is also worth a shout as they do decent pizzas alongside traditional dishes.

One more experience not to be missed is the local, shell shaped Sfogliatella or rum soaked Babà from Scaturchio (Piazza S. Domenico Maggiore, 19) – these can be bought to take away or enjoyed with a café in the piazza. La Sfogliatella Mary on the entrance to Galleria Umberto (‪Via Toledo 66) or Pintauro (Via Toledo, 275) are others options. The grand and historical Caffè Gambrinus (Via Chiaia, 1-2) is good, yet pricier alternative.

For breakfast, a late night snack or between meals, do stop by Friggitoria Fiorenzano alla Pignasecca for some fried tidbits – if you like “nose to tail eating”, a tray of tripey goodness costs about 2 at the Tripperia Fiorenzano (Via Pignasecca 48) next door.

Suggested Itinerary:

Day 1:

Breakfast: Scaturchio (if you have a sweet tooth) or Friggitoria Fiorenzano (if you prefer savoury) – both if you’re me.

Lunch: a posh one at the Michelin starred Palazzo Petrucci or a pizza from Al 22, Trianon or La Figlia Del Presidente – or give in to the lure of one of the touristy spots.

Dinner: join the locals at a traditional, homely place such as La Vecchia Cantina, La Chittara or La Taverna Del Buongustaio.

Day 2:

Breakfast: grab a pastry from La Sfogliatella Mary or Pintauro, or for something a bit more formal, head to Caffè Gambrinus.

Lunch: the charming Osteria da Tonino or another pizza at a place you didn’t get to on day one.

Dinner: the Michelin rated L'Europeo Di Mattozzi or the quirky La Cantinella, with its views of the Gulf of Naples and Vesuvius.

Hope this post helps.

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