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Dec 6, 2010 09:34 AM

Naples: in search of great pasta alla genovese and a waterfront seafood feast (plus coffee!)


I've made pasta alla genovese for years without ever having tasted it in Naples, so for my next visit to Naples, I very much would like to taste a a classic and great pasta alla genovese in Naples. I have seen recommendations for it at Hostaria Toledo and Ciro e Santa Brigada. Any one eaten there? If so, is the rest of the menu great? (I won't be the only diner, and perhaps the only one eatng pasta alla genovese.)

Any other places you can recommend? I'm staying in Vomero.

I also have long harbored an idea -- perhaps mythical -- that a waterfront feast of seafood and fish for Sunday lunch in a fancy table-cloth restaurant is a Neopolitan special occasion treat, not just a tourist sucker punch. If there is a wonderful restaurant with great seafood that delivers that experience (don't mind outdated decor if the food remains good), I'd love to know about it.

If I should forget the waterfront restaurants because they are all tourist traps and eat every bite of seafood someplace else, please let me know. (And I'd be happy to hear about the best seafood and fish restaurants in Napoli, and what preparations you especially enjoyed, if you've something to add from previous Chowhound posts.)

I also hope to drink great, great coffee in Napoli. I've heard Mexico is good, but I'd love any and all recommendations, all over town, but especially for Vomero.

Thanks much!

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  1. wondering whereabouts in Vomero you are staying? We were very happy staying there last year but didnt eat out in the neighborhood. Katie Parla 's blog has a lot of Napes recommendations tho they are a couple years out of date, She and Plotkin (and at least one other poster on this site) liked Osteria donna Teresa on via Kerbaker - might be a good place to try out your Genovese.

    Cant help you from personal experience on your seafood feast tho I suspect Santa Lucia is pretty cold and grim this time of year (we thought so on our two coldweather walk throughs) But there are plenty of seafood restaurants Here is what comes up on a search of our not-fully-populated Naples database

    17 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb

      Ahem! My Naples recs were updated in May;) I've copied them from my blog below. For la genovese: Torre del Saraceno (Vico).

      For pizza: Sorbillo (Via dei Tribunali 32), La Notizia (Via Caravaggio, 53-55), I Decumani (Via dei Tribunali 58-61), Starita a Materdei (Via Materdei 27-28), Di Matteo (Via Tribunali 94).

      For cheese: Squisitezze (via santa maria di costantinopoli).

      For typical Neapolitan fare: Donna Teresa (Via Kerbaker 58), Cantina di Via Sapienza (Via Sapienza 40-41).

      For fish: Peschiera Mattucci (Vico Belledonne A Chiaia 27).

      For pastries: Aruta (Via Porta San Gennaro 34), Mignone (Piazza Cavour 146), Angelo Carbone (Largo Regina Coeli 4).

      For coffee: Bar Tico (Via del Duomo 27).

      For drinks: Perditempo (Via San Pietro a Maiella 8), Trip (Via Martucci, 64).

      PS the place Pignataro recommends in his genovese post is in Battipaglia

      1. re: katieparla

        Thanks, Katie. Unfortunately, I won't be in Vico Equense or Battipaglia.

        Do you have any opinion about Hostaria Toledo, Ciro e Santa Brigada or BuonGustaio (on Vico Basilio Puoti)?

        Also, La Cantina di Sica is quite close to where we are staying. Do have any opinion about it?

        1. re: katieparla

          thats super, its a great resource,

          1. re: jen kalb

            jen, I see from other threads that you liked the pasta alla genovese at Ciro a Santa Brigada. Did you like your other food there?

            Have you eaten at Hostaria Toledo?

            1. re: barberinibee

              yes I liked both of those places - Ciro is a little eccentric and dare I say fossilized (a bit faded elegance, many old gentlemen dining), and I was a bit afraid, but all of our dishes were good, and the waiter warmed up to us considerably when we showed interest in more than a pizza. Hostaria Toledo was a fine homey Trattoria. Both are quite convenient to the bottom of the Funiculare Centrale. I think your address is off on the other side of the Vomero - you may want to look at some of the restaurants down in Chaia and Mergellina which may wind up being convenient. - We were on the side closer to Montesanto looking toward the harbor and Vesuvius.

              1. re: jen kalb

                Thanks for the elaboration on Ciro a Santa Brigada and Hostaria Toledo.

                Our apartment has a view of Vesuvius and the harbor as well, but what's relevant is that we plan to eat all our dinners in Vomero -- we hope at Donna Teresa more than once, plus some Vomero pizzerie (and maybe drag some food to the apartment). Otherwise, this research is about eating lunches elsewhere since we will be going into just about every neighborhood of Napoli. Almost all the public transportation makes a stop at or just a few meters from Vanvitelli (including the Funiculare Centrale), which is about a 10 minute walk the apartment we'll be at, so we figure we can go in all directions and get back easily should we want dinner elsewhere.

                1. re: barberinibee

                  After our days of hoofing it around naples and evirons, I could never get husband out the apartment in evening to eat., even to Donna Teresa,, Acunzo, Gorizia or the Pizza Trianon places which were near us. I think Notizia or especially Cilea be more in the direction of where you are staying also. We tended to shop at Montesacro or at a huge supermarket (not a particularly good one but large and cheap) near our corner of the Vanvitelli metro station I thought there was more local produce, like those long branches of partly dried tomatoes,local lemons and good grapes in the streets below, (the lemons in vomero were from South America) but we could still get some interesting cheese, some cheap ggod mirto for Jim to guzzle, etc.- Venvitalli's entrances reach out blocks in the neighborhood). and then collapse in our apt rather tna going out.. there are a number of attractive cheese gelaterie and other shops close to the Piazza but we didnt sample most of them for the reasons stated. I am

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    I'm pretty sure we won't want to cook but even when we are foot sore, we really can't go without an evening meal. That said, we can seldom eat two restaurant meals a day, so I imagine some of those meals in Vomero will be pizze (again, Gorizia is only a 10 minute walk from where we are staying, but La Notizia looks more like 20).

                    I hear the friggotoria at the top of the funicolore is quite good (and that they sell rotisserie chicken). I imagine too that I will visit some of those cheese shops, and track down Leopoldo's tarrallificio branch in that nabe. Too cold for gelato but not for pastries. I hope our apartment owner has good tips.

                    When I really hope to nail down is the best cup of coffee in Vanvitelli or on our way to it.

                    What time of year were you there? I think of February-April as being the optimal moments for fresh lemons in the region.

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      There is a Cafe Mexico in the Vanvitelli area (as well as the one down in Piazza Dante) - we didnt try the Vomero branch. read about the friggitoria - didnt try since it was not on our going home route - we tried some other fritti but I think they are best eaten in the street fresh made not warned over as we had them.. We ate bread, cheese , fruit salumi and porchetta and take out squares of baked pasta (from a store down in Montesanto) as well as a bit of salad and baba rhum or such in the evenings .

                      The greasy, nutty and peppery neapolitan taralli are addictive and very filling.
                      Our last visit was in Nov and we saw no local lemons . Admittedly it was not peak season, but I was looking out for them and was sorry to miss. Will be looking foward to your report which I am sure will fill in some info gaps for me - we are looking forward to a return visit in a year or two.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Thanks for that news that here is a caffe Mexico near Vanvitelli.

                        I'll do what I can about a trip report. I find them easier to write when I love the food. I'm still trying to figure out how to describe my multiple meals in Bologna over 10 weeks, which have yet to be as inspiring to me as my meals in Friuli Venezia-Giulia . That said, food shopping in Bologna is great.

              2. re: barberinibee

                Shame on me! My report on Hostariai Toledo is really just a list of the dishes we at, but for what it's worth, here:


                1. re: erica

                  Thanks for chiming in with that! I'm thinking maybe we'll eat a lunch at Umberto's if that week's menu appeals and we are in the neighborhood at lunch time (and can get in!)

          2. re: jen kalb

            Hi, jen.

            I'll be staying in an apartment on via Belvedere, about a half mile west of the piazza Vanvitelli. I picked Vomero specifically so I could try a few restaurants there!

            I wasn't planning on eating outdoors on the waterfront. I was imagining there are huge old restaurants that line the bay that serve great long Sunday lunches. Maybe I saw it in the movies.

            I'll be going to Donna Teresa, but I have been under the impression there is no set menu. (Am I wrong about that?) I want to make sure I eat pasta alla genovese somewhere while I am in Napoli, so I was looking for a place where other people had eaten it, along with other good food.

            1. re: barberinibee

              We will be in Naples soon and I have wanted to have pasta alla genovese since I have read about it in Athur Schwart's book years ago and have made it a couple of times.

              barberinibee (or perhaps anyone that reads this) did you ever have the dish at Donna Teresa or anywhere in your time there? I have also saw a thread that Hosteria Toledo does the dish as well.

              Thanks. I did a few searches but everything lead to pesto/genovese style pasta threads.

              1. re: alexistristin

                Ate it at hosteria Toledo...great place for many dishes

                1. re: ncara

                  here is a 2013 article on the Pignataro wineblog with some recommendations. I think I made my personal reccs on this thread already.


                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Thanks Jen and ncara for the input.

                    For some reason I just found all the other responses in this thread on my iPhone and not on my computer, strange. Anyway the Pignataro site is a gem. I have also been following the website that you recommended on a different thread. Great references!

          3. You could look at the English-language blog of this Neapolitan food and wine critic:

            3 Replies
              1. re: erica

                If I am looking specifically for a restaurant review, I usually start here. His block has gotten harder for me to navigate recently.

                1. re: erica

                  It seems luciano pignataro is a popular guide on Chowhound! Is there any place specific he recommends where you also ate and especially liked?

                  (PS: I see that he likes both Don Salvatore and I Primi on the via Mergellina waterfront. Maybe that's the great Sunday seafood feast I want.)

              2. I haven't been for a few years, but here's what I remember that might be of use to you:

                I believe that Mattonella often has Genovese and that's not so far from you. It's not an easy dish to find in restaurants, as I recall.

                I've had some good seafood at a waterfront place in Pozzuoli. It might have been Trattoria de Amici, but I'm not certain. Essentially you have to walk down some steep stairs to the waterfront. The setting is spectacular. I remember a paccheri with crab that was great. They did try to upsell, but hey it's a seafood restaurant in Naples--what do you expect?

                I had great octopus at Trattoria Casillo Enzo in Montesanto. I also had very good seafood at Da Dora, but that's a place you probably either love or hate.

                Another place in Chiaia that is excellent is Osteria da Tonino but I think it's only open for lunch during the week and lunch and dinner on the weekend.

                10 Replies
                1. re: tjdnewyork

                  Thanks! What is it about Da Dora that provokes such polar reactions?

                  We plan on going all over Napoli for lunch (and eating big lunches) and otherwise sticking to Vomero for dinner, so all recommendations are useful to us.

                  Reading an online review, it appears that da Tonino also does gli ziti alla genovese (sugo di carne "sciolta" nella cipolla), or at least it did as of 2009.

                  1. re: barberinibee

                    BB: Take a look at this thread on Da Dora, for starters. I never got there last time but have it on my list:


                    1. re: erica

                      Thanks! It took me 20 minutes to get to the bottom. I doubt I would quibble over a 6e charge or a scribbled conto.

                      What interested me more were those additional recs for fish, especially in Mergellina.

                    2. re: barberinibee

                      I think the impromptu singing is something that you either find irritating or romantic about Da Dora, for starters.

                      Da Tonino, as I recall, has a constantly changing menu of blackboard specials so you probably can't count on any single dish being available. They may always serve genovese on certain days but I'm not sure.

                      Da Tonino on a Saturday lunch is just a crazy and unforgettable experience. You can't put in your name so you have to form a line that goes through the middle of the restaurant, which means the place is jam-packed with people standing, waiting for a table. That sounds terrible, I know, but there's actually something endearing about the ritual, especially if you manage to snag a table on the early side, sort of the Naples of equivalent of old Soviet ration lines.

                      1. re: tjdnewyork

                        One other absolute must in Naples: Attenasio for Sfogliatelle, especially an unusual type that uses a kind of shortbread crust instead of the the usual one. Near the main train station. The pastries are usually hot out of the oven. This place is on a completely different level from the places around Spaccanapoli, including the famous one whose name I'm forgetting.

                        1. re: tjdnewyork

                          Thanks for the elaborations. Attanasio is on my hit list, as well as 3 or 4 other bakers, some of whom are famous for other neopolitan treats as well, including Christmas specialties. (Perhaps you are thinking Scaturchio? La Sfogliatelle Mary? Pintauro?)

                          1. re: barberinibee

                            Scaturchio went bankrupt and was auctioned off in May 2010 to a Neapolitan entrepreneur whose priority does not seem to be to maintain its historic traditions. He has introduced sfogliatelle made with Essenza di Natura (Italian for Splenda):

                            1. re: zerlina

                              Yeah, Scaturchio is the one I was thinking of. I had some great Christmas pastries around this time of year in the Quartieri Spagnoli.

                              By the way, if anyone reading this happens to be in New York, I had a pretty good la genovese last night at the new Donatella pizza place. Very surprised as I had never seen this dish in New York!

                              1. re: tjdnewyork

                                Great to get your reports! Was it a good version of laGenovese? Like so many italian pasta dishes, it seems to me this one is too simple and subtle for New York - here everything has to be over-the-top rich and the balance of sauce and pasta tends to be different here. Good to know somebody is cooking it well, if so..

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  It was pretty decent. A little too much sauce. With paccheri, a pasta I love. Truthfully I like the non-traditional version we make at home more, which contains more herbs, wine, carrots and celery than normal. But I felt like the Donatella one was quite authentic.