Saturday, May 1, 2010

Una Serata a SUD--Quarto's Shining Southern Star

I walked into SUD Ristorante for the first time on April 29th around 9 pm ish. Almost a year after its grand opening on the 11th of May 2009.

SUD a big little restaurant in Quarto…beyond the shopping mall, past the fruit and vegetable stands, towards the montagna spaccata.

SUD, run by Chef Marianna Vitale and husband Pino Esposito.

SUD-THE place to eat this year.

In fact, I had wanted to go SUD for awhile. Friend and SUD’s wine consultant, Fabrizio Erbaggio has invited me several times, and finally, last Thursday, along with the Winerdì staff…Cinzia Dalmonte and Ezechial Merone I walked through the door.

Wow…and what was on the other side of the door!!! Fresh, white and black interior…clean…immaculate…

At first I felt a little out of place. It reminded me of my grandmother’s ‘guest dining room’, where we were allowed to look, but not touch. But Marianna and Pino made me feel at home…subito.

A before dinner drink outside on the patio…Pino pulls out a bottle of Bruno Paliard’s Premiere Cuvee. We made a toast alongside mozzarella topped with freshly sliced tuna and a sprig of basil.

I am not a food critic. I am not a wine critic. I am a person who enjoys being with friends and sharing the entire experience of good food, good wine, and good company. I instantly felt the warmth from Marianna and Pino. Down to earth people. I no longer felt like I shouldn’t be there…it was okay to sit down in ‘the guest’s dining room’.

Fabrizio chose the wine. We shared a magnum of Caracci Falanghina DOC 2002 from Villa Matilde and La Poja Corvina Veronese IGT 2003 from Allegrini. Marianna’s appetizers flowed from the kitchen: sautéed pancetta on top of warm ricotta cheese and sautéed leek, mozzarella wrapped in an egg omelet resting on a bed of cream of asparagus. Then there was my favorite, tuna steak with lightly sautéed zucchini cubes and ricotta. Marianna added fresh basil from her herb garden for this dish as well.

Next up, spaghetti with clams in a creamy sauce, followed by lamb served with a puree of pea soup with lightly toasted bread crumbs on top. As you can see in the slide show below, presentation is very important to Marianna. Each dish was a beautiful work of art. From the shape of the plate it was served in, to the colors that were rich...bright...vivace on the white platter it called home.

It was time for una pausa…I walked around the dining room. I enjoyed the fact that it was small, holds about 28-30 guests…comfy, cozy….I liked looking at the wines displayed proudly on the shelves. My Campania was well represented. I really liked watching Marianna at work through the large glass window that separated the dining room from the kitchen. I admired the black and white photographs that hung on the wall-which I later learned were taken by Marianna’s brother.

Time for dessert---we had two. A mela annurca puree served ice cold and a panna cotta with a strawberry puree. Very flavorful. Pino chose the accompaniment---Tal Lùc ( Verduzzo, Riesling) 2002 from Lis Neris. Serata a SUD. My evening with friends in an environment that was warm, divertente. Run by a young couple who are excited about their work. A chef who took the time periodically to sit down at our table and fa una chiacchierata.

I realy enjoyed my evening. I almost want to keep SUD 'my little secret'....too late,  too good....
SUD Ristorante

Via San Pietro e Paolo 8, Quarto (NA)

081 0202708

Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner (lunch by reservation only at least 24 hours in advance)

, Sunday for lunch. Closed on Mondays.

On the 17th of May, Marianna will be at Vitigno Italia—finalist for a prestigious award -the best new chef in southern Italy. I wish my new friend the best of luck…

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