Salerno, Naples and Capri (May 2012 restaurant report)
I spent a night in Salerno, and then moved on to Naples to visit Capri.
In Salerno, I ate in the Slow Food recommended Osteria Canale on the via Canale, just a stone's throw from the Duomo and up the street from the complex of San Pietro a Corte. This is a really very homey but quirky place, run by a mother and daughter. We had sliced raw artichokes with lemon, candele pasta alla genovese, and absolutely terrific plates of meatballs in red sauce. The basic dishes of Campania agree with my stomach better than any other regional food of Italy, and this place delivers and very satisfying, classic meal that just leaves you feeling better for having eaten it.
After dinner, we took a stroll along the Lungomare Trieste in search of a taxi, and on a pleasantly warm Friday evening, the entire seafront turns into miles of riotous pizza eating, with one pizzeria after another filled to overflowing, terraces of tables spilling to the street, and the smell of all that hot cheese and baking bread and the din of Italian conversation, ringing cellphones, roaring motorcycles, is overwhelming. It would be fun to go back and take part.
On a day in Capri, we picked La Savardina for its proximity to the Villa Jovis. It is an airy place enclosed within a small, pretty citrus orchard, and comically huge Amalfi lemons dangle suggestively everywhere. We drank fresh-squeezed lemonade, ate mozzerella grilled between lemon leaves, ordered linguine with lemon sauce (that had too much marscapone in it). A caprese salad had tasty tomatoes. A handmade pasta with basil pounded into the base with a seafood sauce was rustic and interesting. I had such low expectations of eating in Capri it was impossible for me to be disappointed, but I walked away feeling that this is nice, timeless hideaway with fresh food, fair prices and a caring staff far, far removed from the worst horrors of Capri's mass tourism, and all that vitamin C I'm sure was good for me.
In Naples, I ate the good food of Napoli at Hostaria Toledo and Europeo d'Mattozzi, and posted about my polar opposite experiences here:
I drank lots of coffee at Gambrinus since it was so close to where I was staying (the uniquely situated Art Resort in the Galleria Umberto I) and I lusted for the marvelous floor-length, chocolate-brown apron skirts with slits up the sides that the male baristas wear, although the coffee is better at Caffe Mexico.