What a wonderful city to visit. I have avoided Naples for years after hearing how dirty and dangerous it was and how difficult the Neapolitans can be. That was my mistake. Other than one cab driver who tried to charge me 10 euro for 5 minute ride from via Partenope to Da Dora (I told him 'bullshit," handed him a 5 and got out - case closed) there was no hustling I would not get on the streets of any other big, bustling city in Europe, the States or Asia.
And the food - wonderful.
We got to:
Il Commandante (Salvatore Bianco's Romeo Hotel gem).
All the meals were excellent and, now that I look at the list, it appears we (accidentally) managed to eat in an ascending order of excellence. Naples is the last place in Italy I would have expected to "go fancy" and hit up a Michelin starred establishment but we were staying at the Romeo and the seafood tasting menu proved irresistible. And it was. Such a delightful and elegant meal to cap off the trip. There were many fine dishes I doubt it will be the same from any one night to the next. The spaghetti with eel and a Buffalo Mozzarella "yogurt" sauce (I cant remember what that sauce was served with, perhaps a crudo) were the highlights of a meal filled with them. If you are up for a Naples splurge - GO!
Da Dora was no surprise. Excellent Linguine alla pescatore and superb grilled fish.
Mattozi Europeo was more of a surprise. Not much on chowhound about it but someone at Serious Eats wrote about it glowingly, so we went and found perfect place for a lunchtime meal - warm and friendly with exceptionally fine and simple, well made food. The people-watching at lunch was just amazing. Pizza looked great but we didn't try it.
There was one more meal at a trattoria near the hotel who name escapes me that served a great simple lunch of pizza Margherita DOC, ensalada nizardo (my terminology for an Italian Niciose, not theirs) and fritto misto.
Also the Romeo Hotel may have the finest gym in Europe - someone spent a ton of time and money putting it together. The rooms were OK, the views marred by the port and ships, but the price for 5 stars was quite good.
A great visit.
Grazzie to the many previous posters on Napoli eats who helped me.
glad you had a great time! Mattozzi Europeo seems to be an institution has received a lot of great ink, but if you look through the history of poster experience here, there have a number of folks with seriously negative experiences with the service. Since there are so many places in Naples that do not turn a cold shoulder on first time visitors/tourists I took it off my personal list. Good that your experience as a tourist visitor was better.
re: jen kalb
Hard to imagine that based on our experience. For sure it did not cater to a tourist (in the way da Dora did, for example). It seemed more like a place that has a strong name in town with locals, so in many ways I enjoyed that aspect of seeing where Neopolitans take a grand lunch, more than I might enjoy a place popular with the tourist set. I did notice obvious "regulars" getting a warmer welcome than we did, and getting fellated with freebies and/or tastes of specials that we did not receive, but I don't find that unseemly at all. I will try and look up those reports (out of curiosity). Thanks for your posts, both in Naples and elsewhere, jen!
re: Ciao Bob
someone deleted the link I provided in a separate post. just put "Europeo" into search and you will see. Its clear from comments here and online by recognized food experts as well as , well, us, that this is a capable and (to some) welcoming restaurant, but in a town where most restaurants we have visited offer an open and friendly welcome without any side, to it, a negative attitude can be a deciding factor. Id venture to say the Europeo's location near the port and relatively near to the Santa Lucia district and all the positive press and guidebook mentions have taken their toll. It happens.
re: Ciao Bob
Surely it was an inadvertant mistake the link to a couple of Chowhound posters' reports on Europeo di Mattozi got deleted. Here it is:
And thanks for your report, Ciao Bob. Like you, I had foolishly avoided going to Napoli for several trips to Italy, and only ended up going there when I found myself pretty much shut out of my sightseeing agenda in Rome when a pope died. After that initial taste, I couldn't wait to go back, especially to eat, and now I go as often as I can. Funny thing is, I could care less about Neapolitan pizza. I love the variety of Neapolitan pasta dishes, and seafood, and the pastries, plus the coffee. Wonderfully tasty.
It is seafood heaven; and it certainly was fun, and delicious, to have Neopolitan Pizza in-situ but I am with you - come for the pizza, if you must, but stay for the rest!
I hesitate to write this (especially here), but even in my formerly pizza-challenged home of Los Angeles once can get a 95% authentic Neapolitan pie these days. Maybe the cheese and tomato aren't up to Neaoplitan perfection, but the crusts are light, chewy, and charred while the centers are sweetly soggy - they'll do (until next time).
This is good feedback.
Naples has many faces. I'll be in town for a couple of weeks in April and will add a few thoughts at that time.
Naples is under-represented on this board. You might want to append your experiences to my original post so we can build on Jen's, bb's, others posts. Consolidation could benefit intrepid travelers down the road.
... just a thought.