All in Dining Guides

Top Five Gelaterias in Napoli

 

While the sfogliatella pastry and pastiera pie may be the undisputed kings of Neapolitan dolce, gelato will always remaining an admirable favorite.  With warm weather still going strong as we launch into fall, the gelato shops of Napoli remain humming with activity.  And what better way to spend a Neapolitan Sunday afternoon than with a constitutional stroll with a constitutional cone in hand.  Below are Sauced & Found’s selections for the top five gelaterias in Napoli. 

When life gives you lemons—make Limoncello !

It’s a calm summer night on a terrace overlooking the Gulf of Sorrento.  You have eaten a lot—too much really.  Bruschetta, smoked provolone, oregano studded olives, bubbling eggplant parmesan, Gragnano pasta shells stuffed with salted cod and wild parsley and baked to a crisp gratin. Those were only the first two courses.  The main course of Branzino stewed acqua pazza style in Vesuvian tomatoes and garlic puts you over the edge.  Then dessert arrives- a crostata of plump boozy apricots and vibrant mint leaves.  You are stuffed, finished, finito- but somehow your stomach defies its limits and the laws of gravity.  You eat that sublime slice of tart. Just as you are wishing you wore those stretchy pants, out of the corner of your eye you spot a tray approaching. Chilled ceramic glasses and a bottle of electric yellow nectar materialize. Dinner is not over yet.  The digestive has arrived. And it is limoncello. 

Top Ten Pizzerias in Naples

Let’s get one thing straight ragazzi- pizza is just one of the MANY iconic dishes that Naples offers. Still no trip to Bella Napoli is complete without it.  The original Neapolitan pizzas are the simple Marinara of San Marzano tomato sauce, oregano and garlic or the Margherita of tomato sauce, mozzarella or fiori di latte cheese and basil.  The secret to enjoying a good pizza is to keep it simple.  And for the love of God, don’t drive the pizzaioli of Naples crazy by trying to customize your f*cking order.  Order what is one the menu and basta!

Top Ten Cafés in Naples

You have to try hard not to drink good coffee in Naples.  Every neighborhood bar is a window into the vivacity of that sliver of Neapolitan territory.  The first thing I do every morning after rolling out of bed and making myself look generally presentable (locals might argue that lululemon pants and crocs do not qualify as presentable Napoli- and who am I to quibble) is head to the bar across the street from my house.  I go for the company. The invasive inquiries into my personal life. The exchange of hyper local recipes and even more hyper local gossip.  This is the bar where I start my day.  Twelve hours later, I will also end my day here with a spritz or a gingerino and a complex discussion of what was for lunch and what will be for dinner and how I will spend my Easter and whether I will make or buy my pastiera. It may only be February, and yet this is the idle chatter heard in Neapolitan bars everyday across the city.  To know Napoli is to know her bars.  Below are the most iconic. 

How to Order Coffee in Italy

There is a generous degree of debate regarding who has the best coffee in Italy.  Neapolitans will unfailingly boast that ours is the best coffee in the world.  I agree with that assessment.  But I am also biased.  As a rule, the coffee of the South is earthier and more full bodied.  As you move up the boot, coffee brands change.  In Naples Kimbo is King.  In Rome you find a lot of Lavazza.  Trieste is home to Illy.  The brand you use at home says a lot about your allegiances so never give a Neapolitan a gift of Illy coffee.  This will be unapologetically offensive.  I did this once so I should know.  After learning that I was supposed to take coffee and sugar to a dead relative’s family to commemorate a death-o-versary, I took Illy, thinking it posh.  Let’s just say I made them all forget the somber occasion of the day.

In defense of ITALIAN Food: Ten Commandments

When I lived in America, I always secretly harbored this idea that dried pasta was intrinsically inferior to fresh pasta.  Maybe it was the Calvinist in me that maintained anything that requires more work is naturally better.  I also perhaps romantically believed that all Italians made all things by hand- and by extension that all Italian food was the same.  In the 1990s, regional Italian food was largely non-existent in the United States.  Even New York, bastion of Italian-American cookery was largely void of regional Italian cuisine.  Fine dining chefs served exotic dishes like vitello tonnato (which I never really liked or understood) on the same menus that offered ribollita.  The former is from the Piedmont and has some suspicious origins in French Savoy; the latter is a fine example of Tuscan Cucina Povera.  Call me a zealot, but those two dishes should never be on the same menu together.  It is offensively blasphemous.  Unless maybe you are Massimo Bottura and are doing something whimsically ironic.

Top Ten Foods of the Amalfi Coast (Actually 11!)

Let’s get one thing straight.  This list is by no means exhaustive.  You could eat for years on the Amalfi Coast and still have not tried every plate the region has to offer.  Many of the same dishes are found in the the Gulf of Sorrento, Capri and the Phlegrean Islands. I have tried to limit this top ten list to foods that are strictly native to this wondrous stretch of coast and have stories linked to specific towns.  Sfogliatella, for example, was invented in the Amalfi Coast town of Conca dei Marini.  Parmigiana di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmesan), on the other hand is ubiquitous throughout all of Southern Italy and is a true staple of the Southern Mediterranean summer diet. To understand the foods typical to the Amalfi Coast, one must observe the region’s topography.