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Mar 30, 2012 09:08 AM

Restaurant picks for upcoming trip to Naples &!

I've been trying to dutifully researching to come up with a list of possible restaurants for our trip. Here are my list of finalists. We are staying in Naples and Positano. Any input is greatly appreciated!! Also, we are taking a day trip to Capri and a day trip driving around Amalfi. Any suggestions and how to plan our meals on those days would be awesome. Thanks!

• Di Matteo, Via Tribunali, 94, Naples,
• Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, Via Cesare Sersale 1, 80139
• Cantina di Via Sapienza, Via della Sapieza 40-41, (for lunch only, I believe)
• Scaturchio, Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, 19 (pastry)
• Pizzeria Pellone, Via Nazionale, 93 80143 (Bourdain went here on "No Reservations.")

• Barilotto di Nonno, Via Laurito, 13,
• Barillotto del Nonno, Via Laurito, 13,
• Saraceno d'Oro , Viale Pasitea,254,
• Buca di Bacco, Via Rampa Teglia, 4,,
• Il Ritrovo, Via Montepertuso, 77,
• Donna Rosa, Via Montepertuso,97-99,
• Taverna Del Leone, Via Laurito, 43, 84017

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  1. I don't know where you are staying in Naples, or for how long, but pasta dishes in Naples are wonderful, and so is seafood and vegetables, so I highly recommend that you branch out beyond pizza.

    Cantina di via Sapienza is very inexpensive and well-located if you are sightseeing in the centro, and I've no real complaints about my lunch there although I also have no recollection of what I ate. So I recommend you go armed with a longer list of choices of places for a full meal, which you can gather from past threads on this board about Naples (Napoli). Many places in Napoli do serve memorable food at very good prices.

    If you like coffee, Napoli has some of the best in italy. Caffe Mexico is delicious and has several branches, and most guidebooks give the addresses of historic cafes.

    This blog by a native of the region might give you some ideas for both Napoli and Positano.

    12 Replies
    1. re: barberinibee

      ditto re the coffee at Cafe Mexico (in Piazza Dante among other places.

      We liked Cantina di Sapienza very much both forits excellent home style food and light bill and the atmosphere - lots of folks from the medical faculty across the street go there. Weekday lunch only I think. Also nearby is Stanza del Gusto with its Squisitezze cheese bar - fine regional products and a friendly welcome Both are very convenient to the archeological museum and the fascinating historic center.

      Depending on where you are staying, there are a lots of possible recommendations. This is a good eating town, and amazingly economical.

      I had thought that Scaturchio had closed, but it seems as tho it may have reopened. Will be looking forward to your report!

      1. re: jen kalb

        Although I didn't go in last time I was in Napoli (12/2010), Scaturchio was definitely open. It has a website, and I don't get any indication that it is closed now:

        Almost every recomendation I see for La Cantina di via Sapienza makes note that the medical faculty eat there -- but I have never figured out why this adds to the reputation of the place. I don't dispute that other people ate happily there and certainly cheaply, and enjoyed the easy-going atmosphere, but when I lived next door to Mt Sinai in NYC, I never noticed doctors patronizing the best restaurants in the neighborhood, just the most convenient since they were pressed for time.

        (On a side note, jen, I bought a bottle of Nocino when I spotted it in the supermarket yesterday, remembering how often you have enthused about it here. Since I cooked a bolognese pasta dish for dinner tonight, we capped off the meal with a swallow. Yo! After my head stopped spinning,, I checked the alcohol content. It's nicely walnutty, but I think I best stick to sprinkling it sparingly on cake.)

        1. re: barberinibee

          jen, you might be interested in La Cantina di Sapienza's recipe for eggplant parmigiana , recommended in all the guidebooks (alas, but understandably, it wasn't on the menu the December I was there)

          1. re: barberinibee

            I think the regular clientele, at their group table gives it an air of cameraderie -I like the feeling of being in a place where there are "regulars" and yet feeling warmly welcomed.
            As to the Mt Sinai analog well, how would you rate the level of food discernment of busy NY professionals vs Italians?

            The food at the cantina is perfect lunch food - cheap and homey - I would never recommend it as the best place to eat in Naples but it is definitely chowhound-worthy if that general area is where you are at lunch time. thanks for the recipe link

            Re Scaturchio, there was a big hubbub about it and it did close for a while in 2010 - I had lost track of the situation, but it seems to be reopened now and even franchising?
            look at dissapore for the original report.

            Wondering what brand of Nocino you bought. It can be VERY strong and in some cases a bit raw tasting sometimes more mellow - but a thimble full sipped satisfies me. To me it tastes more herbal /woody and spicy than walnutty per se since its made of the green nuts in their shells. If you want to try a crazy version, the owners of E'Curti from Sant'Anastasia near Vesuvius makes a clear version (cant find a pic of this on line, maybe they stopped producing?) that really packs a wallop. I personally like the dark, mysteriously spiced versions better.


            1. re: jen kalb

              Perhaps oddly, La Cantina di via Sapenzia was practically empty when I was there for lunch. (Maybe there was a particularly interesting autopsy that day at school.) It was still quite pleasant to be in. I just don't remember what I ate, but I do recall thinking when I left that much of the motivation for recommending this place has to be that it is easy to find near the tourist sights, and a lot of people are daunted by the streetscape of Napoli.

              What I observe about Italian professionals eating at lunch in Italy vs. NYC pros is that the Italians go in groups. Together. The whole office. All at the same time. I don't know who chooses the restaurant or why in a city as big as Napoli. (Where I live, the commune staff and the local bank go for cheap.) But while I occasionally saw lower echelon staff from Mt Sinai head out in larger groups for lunch -- and often plainly for a birthday or something -- usually Americans eat lunch in shifts, the MDs go in pairs, at most, or alone. Any professional group lunch is usually catered in.

              As for Nocino, the brand is Faled. It comes in a ridiculously stubby black bottle. I will next try it in coffee. But I thought if I were making a certain kind of no-bake pie (not too flaky), painting a thin layer of Nocino on the crust before putting in a ricotta-type filling with chopped pears might be nice. Maybe I'll soak some raisins in Nocino.

              1. re: barberinibee

                Faled brand of Nocino, 40 percent alcohol. It's made not far from Zibello/Parma.


              2. re: jen kalb

                Jen, as a lover of cose napoletane living almost around the corner from Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC, just a word to say that medical folks here have only simple/quick places to eat nearby, and would love having anything resembling Cantina di via Sapienza nearby. Also re: nocino--those I've had in Campania are indeed fairly high proof, but almost all have been delightfully spicy, "dark and mysterious" as you note, and the wallop (if any) worth it. Wish there were some quality versions available here (beyond the very expensive one produced in California, whose name I forget).

                1. re: bob96


                  I hope anybody anywhere in NYC would love anything resembling a real Neopolitan eatery near where they work. I was recently in NYC for a month and while I really don't want to rile posters living there, who I am sure have ferreted out many stelllar lunch spots in the city, and I found some I enjoyed, I do honestly believe that Napoli has an infinitely wider strike zone for delicious places to eat for people looking for lunch away from home, more than just La Cantina via di Sapienza (which I would describe as a simple Neopolitan eatery, and not a place to go for a long, lingering lunch). Perhaps in her earlier question to me about the "discernment" of NY professionals vs. that of Neopolitan professionals, Jen was implying Neopolitans demand more of their eateries. Don't know. My feeling is that NY pros do like great food but settle for less at lunchtime by necessity.

                  I've been looking up cocktail recipes for Nocino and "della Christina" seems to be the American brand, or at least that is the name that keeps popping up. I'll eventually get around to braving another sip of the nocino from Emilia-Romagna I bought, but this lacked the complexity of what you and Jen have described. It tasted of walnuts and mainly of alcohol.

                  1. re: barberinibee

                    A straightforward, cheerful, and well priced Neapolitan eatery would be a smash. I had lunch recently in a stylish Cuban cafe/tavola calda that served hearty, fresh dishes quickly and smoothly to eager lunchtime crowds, so there are some choices. I'd love a simple trattoria for an occasional dinner. You're right that lunch in NY, alas, is at a somewhat different register than it is in Naples. Most everyone eats quickly, on the run, from food trucks, or at their desks, while "real" lunches are usually business (or romantic) propositions. I do miss the days of the candy store-lunch counters, lined with working folks eating deli sandwiches and drinking strong coffee from heavy china mugs, reading the sports pages in the paper. But that's another New York century. Anyway, the della Christina nocino is fine (had it in California) but not easy to find and a little to expensive for me. I keep my eyes open for something from Campania, failing a crop of green walnuts for making my own.

                    1. re: bob96


                      I saw a couple of recipes for making one's own nocino online, and it looked pretty simple, and not like you needed a whole lot of green walnuts.

                      I had some thoughts up and down the staircase as to why I may not have had the "very good" lunch that jenkalb or you enjoyed at La Cantina di Sapienza. I was in Naples during the December Christmas break, and it is possible that, when school isn't in session, La Cantina (understandably) doesn't cook up a storm of simple fresh veg like it does when the doctors are booked for lunch. So my advice to nutella would b, if she's curious and in the neighborhood, to go on a weekday and not during school holidays -- and perhaps not during a poor veg season like December (although I certainly had great vegetables in Rome just this past January).

                      Anyway, I didn't have a bad meal at La Cantina, because I certainly would have remembered that. But I would have remembered a very good one, too.

                      Last month in NYC, the closest I got to a nice old-fashioned experience of lunch with room enough to open up a newspaper was at Brasilan Emporium, which was satisfying in the way you describe your Cuban cafe experience. As for simple trattorie in NYC, I also threw a party for two dozen at Maialino, and while that wasn't simple for me, the food was a hit and I got the impression one could go there i for an occasional dinner and eat nice pasta and drink nice wine at an affordable price. In fact, the wine we had from Campania was really very nice -- Marsilliano -- and some of the Roman dishes were very good. Off in the private dining room I didn't get much feel for the overall ambience, however.

                      The wine

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        Nocino from Calabria recipe, which specifies precisely 24 walnuts (and I note that the Calabrian commercial brands have 35 percent alcohol)


                        The one I have from Emilia-Romagna even smells like walnuts. I just took a sniff (but not a sip).

                        1. re: barberinibee

                          its pretty easy to make if you have a source of the green walnuts. I bet in Italy you could find someone with a tree. Have to be patient for the results, though.


        2. Sorry nutella! I'll quit diverting your thread!

          1 Reply
          1. re: barberinibee

            I am probably the only fly in the ointment here but I would not make a trip up to Montepertuso to eat at Il Ritrovo. I was slightly leery of this restaurant since I had read so much gushing praise on every website and in every tourist guide. But curiosity got the better of me, and I had a dinner there late last summer.

            It is by no means a bad restaurant, especially if you are a fan of balsamic vinegar being drizzled with abandon. The vegetable dishes, especially the mixed vegetable antipasti, and the house made pastas are the way to go and in fact, these were very good. But the experience is touristy to the max, so do not plan to go there thinking that you will be discovering that Italian trattoria of your dreams. And do not order the fish.

            This was one of the more expensive meals of my 16 day trip, but much of that is likely due to its location near Positano. For my money, I would head for Cetara.

          2. This is all fantastic. Thanks for the insight. "Touristy to the max" is certainly not what we're looking for so we'll pass. Is Donna Rosa the same since it's so close? Thanks again everyone!

            6 Replies
            1. re: nutella

              I don't know about Dona Rosa, although it is virtually next door to Il Ritrovo. If the place runs a free shuttle for diners, you can bet that it will attract a lot of tourists. But I don't mean to be a spoilsport here. The food, apart from the fish (which is not sold here by weight) was very good. I just don't think it merits all the hype.

              1. re: erica

                there are restaurants in this area which are not overrun with tourists, however finding non-touristic restaurants, especially those with features like views, in a zone whose rationale is mostly tourism these days may be unrealistic. Il Ritrovo was a slowfood place which likely puts it toward the bottom of the price range for the Positano area. that will also increase its appeal. You need to either get farther off the beaten path, decide you dont care about views afterall or pay up to get a feeling of specialness under these circumstances.

                One restaurant we liked in this area (Atrani, near Amalfi) was A'Paranza, which had no view and no noticeable tourists other than us when we visited for lunch. Also very nicely prepared food (fish oriented as the name indicates.

                Also the phenomenon of no fish when you go even just a little bit inland is characteristic and interesting - the land cuisine takes over, not invariably but its something to observe, all over italy, how very looking the cooking traditions are.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  If you do want good views, and you are willing to get up to Furore, I would recommend Hostaria da Bacco. This is a very well regarded place among the local food set and while they do get many tourists (the attached hotel is a haven for hikers/walkers), it does not seem to be a "touristy" restaurant. Their house-made pasta with swordfish is excellent, as are the other dishes I tried. (We spent a night there).


                  I also like A Paranza in Atrani.

              2. re: nutella


                Don't let me put you off about La Cantina di via Sapienza if you want to go. Part of my chatter here with jen has been puzzling about whether where-the-doctors-eat is necessarily a better recommendation than, say, where the truck-drivers-eat. But I absolutely agree that a very large part of the enjoyment of eating in Italy is the conviviality you feel in places where large groups of people who know each other come to eat lunch. Doesn't matter if they are doctors or lawyers or students or even sometimes priests, it is an experience to savor as much as the food.

                But i do hope you'll try more than pizza and sweets in Naples!

                1. re: barberinibee

                  I just want to make it very clear that I am recommending this restaurant for very good food. there are other restaurants in the same class (characteristic home style dishes, an array of good vegetable dishes to choose from, mom (and son) in the kitchen, dad in front, friendly welcome around down but this one was good and convenient to where we were visiting/staying. for other restaurants of the same type/price range the quartieri spagnoli, and via pignasecca area are good - as well as in Vomero. .

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Sorry I didn't find La Cantina di via Sapienza to be a memorable meal compared to others I had in Napoli, but yes, good to nail it down that it is not the presence of doctors but the food you are recommending.

              3. So if you had to choose two of these in/near Positano, which would you prefer? I'd like to have different dining experiences, so maybe somebody can recommend two that are different from each other? Of course, quality of food and service would be paramount; I am not as concerned about having a view as I am with having excellent food...thanks again!

                • Saraceno d'Oro , Viale Pasitea,254,
                • Buca di Bacco, Via Rampa Teglia, 4,,
                • Donna Rosa, Via Montepertuso,97-99,
                • La Tagliata, Via Tagliata, 22,

                5 Replies
                1. re: nutella

                  I would also be interested in hearing about La Tagliata, on which I found only a couple of brief mentions in my search. I was thinking of trying it on my upcoming trip, which includes a week in Ravello, especially since it seemed less focused on seafood--which I like but my husband does not. My concern is that it sounded like it might cater to busloads of tourists.

                  We'll be in Ravello the week of April 15th, so certainly not high season, which might make a difference. Thanks.

                  1. re: lisaonthecape

                    It should be pretty quiet then - not too many busloads, or folks on the beach.

                    Here's one from Luciano Pignataro's site which I had not noticed yet, Casa Angelina between Positano and Praiano.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Thanks, Jen,

                      You have a wealth of information, as always.

                  2. re: nutella

                    La Tagliata is a tourist trap. You can woo and aar at the bus ride up but the food is average at best. The 'starters' come thick and fast, and are reasonably good but the meats that come at the end are overcooked and tough as hell. If you like the alcohol and the disco, then you'll like it, otherwise it's definitely not top of the list.

                    1. re: chobochobo

                      I have my suspicions about restaurants that provide free shuttle vans for diners.

                  3. If you search by my name you will find a recent post called Naples Report with a pizzaria study. While Da Michele remains our favorite after many, many visits to Naples, La Notizia is someplace where you can enjoy a meal, rather than just a quick pizza. Also, we have had terrific pasta at Hosteria Toledo.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: GeraldI

                      Agreed re Hosteria Toledo, great food and great welcome. slowfood spot. In Quartieri Spagnoli, but not far from via Toledo. Search and you will find some other discussion of it.