Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Super Sandwiches- Hamburger ‘’Di Crudo di Vitello Irpino’ by Chef Mirko Balzano

photo: Nico Boccia
I had a chance to try this bite-size sandwich prepared by Chef Mirko Balzano of Villa Assunta last week in Avellino.  Balzano uses calf meat from Irpinia for this creation al crudo (raw).  The beautiful photo by Nico Boccia gives you an idea of how super this sandwich is.

For the sandwich: 400
 g flour "00", 1 g yeast, 300 g of water, 20 g sugar
For the mayonnaise: 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 pinch  of salt, 500 ml extra virgin Ogliarola
For the burgers:100g beef round, 100g tenderloin, Sorrento tomatoes

Prepare the dough sandwiches with flour, water, and yeast, Once a smooth dough is obtained add the sugar and let rise. After the dough has risen, form it into small rolls of about 40/50 g each.  Let rise again.  When the sandwich rolls are almost completely risen, bake at 180 °C for 20 minutes
For the mayonnaise: Place all the ingredients (except the oil) in a glass container and blend using a minipimer. Slowly add the extra virgin olive oil Ogliarola, until it has reached its desired consistency. To create the burger, assemble the two parts of the calf, previously cut into small pieces using a knife with a smooth blade. Add a pinch of salt and shape into patties.
 Assemble the sandwich ‘to your liking’, add a few salt flakes, a drizzle of olive oil, and the final touch…a tomato from Sorrento. 

Via Capo di Gaudio
Mirabella Eclano (Av)
0825 476169

Monday, July 25, 2011

Amazing Appetizers- Scallops Stuffed with Mozzarella and Basil Served with Marinated Vegetables by Chef Giuseppe Daddio

This appetizer, served to me by Chef Giuseppe Daddio of Locanda delle Trame, was a perfect beginning to a memorable Sunday lunch. Simple ingredients = fantastic flavor.

Ingredients for 6 :
For the scallops:6 fresh giant scallops, gr
. 150  buffalo mozzarella , 6 fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper to taste.
For the breading: 2 eggs, flour ‘00’, grated breadsticks, olive oil (for browning)
For the marinated vegetables: carrots, zucchini
For the marinade mixture: 250 gr.extra virgin olive oil  20 gr white wine vinegar, 3 gr salt

Clean the scallops, remove the membrane, slit  the middle and stuff with a slice of mozzarella and basil.
Bread scallops according to the classic  method (flour, eggs and grated breadsticks).
Once breaded, brown the scallops in olive oil, pat the excess oil and serve with marinated vegetables.

For the marinade; boil all the ingredients for the marinade mixture.  Wash the vegetables, cut into diamond shapes and dip in the liquid which has been removed from the heat.
Allow to marinate for about 24 hours.
Garnish with fresh aromatic herbs.

Via M. Fiorillo, 1
San Leucio Caserta
0823 304 055

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Delectable Dessets -White Chocolate, Lime, Fennel, and Green Apple by Chef Paolo Barrale

Here’s a dessert from Chef Paolo Barrale which really shows his Sicilian roots.  A lime granita with a white chocolate mousse.  It was a hit at his cooking class held at Marennà earlier this month.

Ingredients for 4: 
Mousse:40 cl of milk, 1 lime, 75 gr of white chocolate, 1.5 gr of gelatin, 75 cl of whipping cream
Granita:  500 cl of green apple juice, 5 cl of lime juice, 20 cl of absinthe,2 gr gelatin, 1 green apple, 1 fennel, 100 gr sugar, 100 cl water

Mousse: In a small pan, heat the milk, add the chocolate and le it melt.  Soak the gelatin in cold water in a small bowl.  Squeeze out the excess water and add it to the chocolate mixture.  Grate the lime peel and add it as well.
Whip the cream and add a small amount to the chocolate mixture. Warm the mousse to 30°C and stir vigorously.  Add the remaining whipped cream and stir delicately, from the top down.  Place in the refrigerator.
Granita:  In a small pan, heat the absinthe and lime juice.  In the meantime, soak the gelatin in cold water in a small bowl.  Squeeze out the excess water and add it to the mixture.  Pour into a mold and freeze.  Every now and then, grate the surface with a fork.  Cut the apple into small cubes and set aside. Slice the fennel into 2mm slices and blanch in a small amount of acidulated water.  Prepare a syrup with water and sugar. Place the fennel in the syrup for a few minutes.  Store in the refrigerator.

Plating:  In a deep dish, place 2 spoonfuls of the granite, cover with a scoop of the chocolate mousse.  Garnish with the apple cubes and fennel.

Chef Barrale paired this dessert with Feudi di San Gregorio's  DUBL Aglianico, Spumante Metodo Classico

Friday, July 22, 2011

An Evening with Mesali-an Invitation to Discover Irpinia

M-e-s-á-l-i...Jenny said.

Jenny Auriemma, sommelier and part owner of La Locanda di Bu…a Michelin star Restaurant located in Nusco (Av). Mesáli, I learned, is an association of restaurants in Irpinia who have teamed together to promote the territory through its products and fantastic cucina…Jenny handed me a guide about a year ago when I met her and husband Chef Antonio Pisaniello for the first time. A guide packed with the names and addresses of some of the top restaurants in the Avellino region.

Fast forward about 13 months. The Mesáli Association has a new guide packed with professionals ready to introduce me to my Campania-Irpinia style, through recipes, culture, and customs. Once again, Jenny steps in, asking me if I would like to attend an event which would focus on not only on the book, but on the territory that I have become affectionately attached to over the  last few of years.

The scene, Country Sport Complesso in Avellino. Poolside…Twelve restaurants ready to share their stories, their culture, their dishes in a grande buffet on an unusually cool summer evening.

Between assaggi of appetizers, first courses and desserts, I did my best to get around to everyone…say hello, try a dish, and enjoy the spirit of the evening. The spirit of the evening…a spirit that wasn’t meant to last for only few hours. A spirit shared with Amazing Appetizers such as Axx 150 3 colori per Italia-a tomato tartar with a basil sauce and topped with pecorino ice cream-La Locanda di Bu. A Parmigiana zeppola on a bed of tomatoes and basil by Oasis Sapori Antichi. Other dishes that I managed to get my hands on were La Ripa’s Regno delle due Sicilie-an eggplant timballo with Vesuvius tomatoes and melanzania perlina. A hamburger crudo, raw, with montoro onions, carmansciano cheese , star anise, and guanciale
all’aglianico-Villa Assunta . Fantastic firsts? Fusilli rustichelli con baccala, spring onions from Oasi Sapori Antichi. A canneloni bean soup by Valleverde and Cannazze Calitrane by La Locanda del Arco. And when it came time for desserts, there was a little space for il croccantino from Antica Trattoria Di Pietro, a Bianco di yogurt and rosa amarena-La Locanda di Bu, Dolcemara arancia-L’Incanto, Magnum di Ravece-Villa Assunta, and a final ‘toast’ with Rocco Rafaniello’s mini chocolate cake from La Ripa.

That evening I discovered that Mesáli’s guide is not just a list of restaurants. It is an invitation. An invitation to Irpinia. A region that I know well for its wine. And here it was …inviting all me to discover its recipes, prodotti tipici, its chefs.

A challenge? It’s nice to discover that there is a lot to discover…

And why not?

Antica Trattoria Di Pietro dal 1934
Corso Italia, 8 // Melito Irpino (AV)
Tel. 0825/472010

Ristorante La Pergola
Via Freda, 4 // Gesualdo (AV)
Tel. 0825/401435

Oasis Antichi Sapori
Via Provinciale, 6 // Vallesaccarda (AV)
Tel. 0825/97444 – 97021

La Locanda di Bu
Vico dello Spagnuolo, 1 // Nusco (AV)
Tel. & Fax 0827/64619

Antica Trattoria Martella
Via Chiesa Conservatorio, 10 // Avellino
Tel. 0825/32123

Ristorante La Pignata
Viale dei Tigli, 7 // Ariano Irpino (AV)
Tel. 0825/872355-872571

Osteria del Gallo e della Volpe
Piazza Umberto, 1 // Ospedaletto d'Alpinolo (AV)
Tel. 0825/691225-25023

Ristorante L'Incanto
Via del Municipio, 30 // Sant'Andrea di Conza (AV)

Ristorante Valleverde
Via Pianodardine, 112 // Atripalda (AV)
Tel. 0825/626115

Villa Assunta Ristorante e Cantine
Via Capo di Gaudio // Mirabella Eclano (AV)
Tel. 0825/476169 Cell. 3392515010

La Locanda dell'Arco
Via dell'Arco di Zampaglione, 1/3/5 // Calitri (AV)
Tel. 0827/310951 Cell. 346 7235766

La Ripa Ristorante Museo
Borgo Medievale // Rocca San Felice (AV)
Tel. 0827/215023 Cell. 347 2389097 – 393 9453762

Italian Version

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Saturday in Pizzeria-Antica Pizzeria Donna Regina-Naples

Ernesto Fico

Saturday in the city. This time of year, Naples is nearly deserted.  But being  Saturday I had that desire for  pizza.  This week’s choice was Antica Pizzeria Donna ReginaErnesto Fico’s Donna Regina.  Pizza by Fico as his t-shirt proudly announced.  Fico, son of a pizza maker, opened up his first pizzeria in San Giorgio A Cremano back in 1988.  Via S.S: Apostoli, #4, in Naples,however, is where he has called home for the last 7 years.

The menu…Ordering a pizza is not as easy as one might think. We wanted something different …a pizza (or two) that would show us a little bit Donna Regina.  One that would show us the best of a pizza by Fico
While deciding, I overheard Ernesto say prepariamo o ‘cuptiel…yes!  Classic in Naples.  Brown paper cone…stuffed with all kinds of fried specialties.  Oggi?  Today?  Fried pasta, zucchini, arancini, and crocchè.  Something to tie you over while you try to contemplate…try to concentrate.

No…still undecided.  A plate arrives.  Straccetti del cardinale...a simple, but tasty appetizer he makes especially for Cardinal Sepe of Naples (whose offices are just down the street)...Lightly fried strips of pizza dough topped with fresh tomatoes and basil…

Allora?  Ok?  Have you decided?...Yes!  A Checcholina.  A pizza made with melanzane ai funghetti,eggplant with tomatoes,  prosciutto, fior di latte, and basil.  We wanted to keep it light, being summer and all.  And it was.  Light and tasty. 

And a Donna Albina.  A pizza with provola cheese (my it cheese of the moment), fresh tomatoes, rucola¸extra virgin olive oil.  We wanted to keep it light, being summer and all.  And it was.  Light and tasty. 

Afterwards, over a caffè with Ernesto, I thought back to when we first met.  At the judges table.  World Pizzaioli Championship.  It was Ernesto who I observed as he analyzed each pizza.  Raising his slice wth his fork to look underneath.  Why?  La cottura…to see if it was cooked correctly, he answered.  It was Ernesto who I observed as he  tore off a piece of crust, opened it up, smelled it, paused, and then took a bite.  Why?  Tempo di lievitazione…checking to see if the dough had risen properly before being cooked.
I thought back to what I had tried at lunch.  How a lunch had casually  turned into  little lessons.  Lessons on quality.  Lessons on fresh products.  Lessons on simplicity.  A lesson by Fico.  A pizza by Fico.  A Saturday in pizzeria…

Via S.S: Apostoli  n° 4
081 4421511

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Una Passeggiata a...Cetara (Sa) with Chef Pasquale Torrente

Pasquale Torrente
Cetara-Amalfi Coast.  Eighteen years in Campania, and I had  never been to this secret by the seaA sleepy village that around 2,500 people call home. 

Home of the Torre di Cetara.  Home of  the Church and Convent of St. Francis,seventeenth century, whose dome and nave was frescoed by the painter  Marco Benincasa.  Home of the Church of St. Peter the Apostle, renovated in the eighteenth century, with a baroque interior, with the dome bell tower from the thirteenth century with mullioned windows, and an octagonal belfry.

A fisherman’s village famous for its tuna, it’s sardines, …and Chef Pasquale Torrente

So I asked the chef to show me around.  Help me understand what was so special about this little town.  Talk to me about street food, and everything and anything that popped up.  And we did over a bite to eat at three of Torrente’s tasty spots that are spread around the small scenic little town.

I wanted to see Pane e Coccos’ (Loosely translated as Pane e Qualcosa…Bread and something)  Street food-but Torrente style.  This little location had its grand opening less than two weeks ago.  Over  a glass of Pignoletto Frizzante by Vignetto San Vito ,I learned quite a bit of about the philosophy here…nestled in a corner of Corso Federici, seated at a table outside watching sunbathers return from the beach.  A cutting board …or three..arrive, brought to us by Pasquale’s brother, Luigi.  A cutting board packed with quality.  Mortadella from Salumificio Pasquini, pancetta from Paolo Parisi, prosciutto crudo from Salumificio Cillo and Prosciuttificio Dal’Ava, salami from Tramonti (Sa).  So we tried some.  Torrente talked to me about the way it used to be...that when you headed out for the beach, your mom would make you a sandwich.  One made with two simple pieces of bread, but inside….wow.  Eggplant parmigiana.  Or meatballs made from slow cooking a ragù sauce overnight.  Or even milza (spleen).  So we tried some. Torrente shared that on the  way back from the beach, I could pick up some wine. Cheese.  Tuna.  Anchovies.  Qualcosa…something.

Or, on my way back from the beach, I could hit stop 2 of our Torrente tour.  La Cuopperia del Convento.  Five years  in pole position on the port of Cetara. A table by the sea.  A breeze, a beer, and a cupietel’. Neapolitan for fried goodies served in a brown paper cone.  Fried fish, shrimp, and squid.  A plate of fried eggplant balls, sardine balls, potato crocchè, and arancini.  Torrente (also known as the Re degli Alici-the anchovy king), shared with me his insight as to why Cetara is famous for this fine little fish.  First of all, the sea…clean, pulita.  The famous alici sotto sale?  Salted anchovies.  These sardines, caught and conserved between  April 27 and July 27 (when they are full of eggs…making them tastier) have their heads and interiors removed and are placed in a container of sea salt for about a day.  Then placed in small wooden barrels, a layer of fish, a layer of salt, and so on and so on, and so on.  Months pass, and around November, the liquid that has accumulated is conserved and becomes the famous colatura di alici…perfect to add to spaghetti.  Well, can’t leave Cetara without trying that…

So we were off again.  Up the street to Torrente’s restaurant Al Convento.  A restaurant located on the first floor of a renovated 16th Century convent…complete with original frescoes.  A beautiful view of the town piazza below and the full moon that decided to join me in Cetara above.  A seat at a table on the terrace.  The chef spreads butter on a piece of toasted bread, gently places two  anchovies on top. He sets it in front of me.  This is Cetara…I thought.  Simple…characteristic.  Anchovies…alici. Simple, like my plate of spaghetti with that precious liquid from months of conservation, years of experience , years of tradition.  A plate of spaghetti with colatura di alici.  Simple, characteristic.  A plate of pasta alla puttanesca with sardines…simple…tradition…characteristic.

Cetara…Simple as a cool breeze from the sea.  A cupietel'.   A plate of spaghetti.  A full moon.

Cetara…Characteristic as the laughter from teenagers playing soccer in the piazza below my table at Al Convento.

Karen…I think you have enough material for three months of blogs…Torrente teases.

I smile…he’s right. 

Cetara…I’ve only touched the surface….

Pane e Coccos'
Federici n°3 Cetara (SA). Tel. 089 261485

La Cuopperia del Convento
84010 Cetara (SA) Piazza Grotta, 2
Tel: 089.261275

Ristorante Pizzeria «Al Convento»
Piazza San Francesco, 16 - Tel. 089.261039
84010 Cetara (Sa) - Costiera Amalfitana

Italian Version

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cool Recipes for a Hot Summer- Ziti Spezzati, Ragù di Cozze, Ricotta e Friggitelli by Chef Paolo Barrale

Front row Sorbo Serpico.Lezione di Cucina.   And when it was time for this fantastic first, I just knew that it would be perfect for the blog.  Here’s the recipe courtesy of Chef Paolo Barrale, Marennà.

Ingredients for 4 people:  200 gr of ‘broken’ ziti, 300 gr of Piccadilly tomatoes, 1 kg of mussels, 300 gr of green peppers (frigitelli), 3 cloves of garlic, hot red peppers (to taste), 2 bunches of parsley, basil (to taste), 100 gr of ricotta (from sheeps milk), extra virgin olive oil, salt, black pepper.

Directions: Rinse and clean the mussels well, then pt them in a pot woth a little parsley, basil, and a clove of garlic.  Cook on the stove top, covered, until they open.  When the mussels have opened, shell them and filer the juice.  Cut the mussels with a knife into fairly large pieces and put to the side. 
Place the tomatoes in boiling ater for 8 to 10 seconds, peel them, and cut them into quarters.  Eliminate the insides and the seeds.  Dice then cook in a pan with oil, garlic, parsley, and 2/3 basil leaves.  Add the mussels and set to the side.
Clean the peppers and eliminate the seeds.  Slice and sauté in a pan with oil and garlic.  Add a ladle of water and a pinch of salt.  Cover and allow to cook for several minutes, taking care that it doesn’t burn. Blend using an immersion blender (minipimer) and then strain to eliminate the skins.  Set to the side.
Mash the ricotta with the back of a spoon and season with salt and pepper.  Put the mixture in a pastry bagwith a fine point. 
Cook th pasta until firm, al dente.  Drain and fill each zito with the ricotta mixture.  Keep warm.

Plate preparation: Place a layer of frigitelli cream on the bottom layer of the plate, then place the stuffed ziti (about 10 per portion).  Cover with the mussel ragu sauce.  Garnish with basil, parsley, and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil. (Barrale suggests Ravece)

This dish was paired with Pietracalda 2010, Fiano di Avellino DOCG

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Graduation Day-Dolce & Salato-Maddaloni (Ce)

There was something more spectacular than the menu. Though I must admit it was pretty spectacular. More energetic than the colors of the endless quantity of dishes on the buffet table. Though I must admit they were very vivacious.

Hotter than the heat last Monday at Dolce &; Salato Scuola di Cucina & Pasticcieria. Though I must admit, things had heated up quite nicely.

Things had heated up for a special event. Graduation day. Six students from the cooking school’s Masters Professional program. Six students…aspiring professionals who had spent the last three months in Maddaloni…studying…preparing…sacrificing. All for this moment. A moment to share with family and friends. Their day. Their graduation day.

Their last day at Dolce & Salato, but their first day as professionals…Professionals who were about to embark on a journey….jump into their dream.

So I observed closely as Chef Giuseppe Daddio and Chef Aniello Di Caprio, owners of the school, talked about these students. Who knows, maybe thinking about heir own personal graduation days.  I listened to guest speakers like Chef Antonello Colonna and journalist Luciano Pignataro give words of encouragement, guidance from their years of experience.

I watched parents, brothers, sisters, and friends watch with pride as each budding new chef spoke about their experience at Dolce & Salato…their journey.

So what was so spectacular? So energetic and vivacious? So hot on that Monday afternoon?

The smiles on the faces of Maria Elia, Alessandro Di Giovannantonio, Davide Tamburrino, Maria Incoronata Tonziello, Alfonso Marino, and Carlo De Lillo. Their excitement. Their enthusiasm. Their zeal and drive Their realization of a dream, un sogno. Their desire to begin their future now.

I had been asked to take a few pictures. To see the school up close, in action. And that I did. But is was nearly impossible not to get caught up in the electricity that was in the air. The joy, relief, exhilaration of everyone in the room.
The spirit of Graduation Day. A spirit that I felt priveleged to be a part of, if just for a few hours...

Good luck, ragazzi!

Monday, July 11, 2011

E' Arrivata l'Estate- A Cooking Lesson with Chef Paolo Barrale

Chef Paolo Barrale
Numerous times over the past year I have stood in Marenna's dining room.  Marenna', Feudi dei San Gregorio's Michelin star restaurant, headed by Chef Paolo Barrale.  I have stood by the window next to the kitchen.  A large window placed there so that diners like me can observe Barrale's team in action.  Observe how his kitchen staff puts together those dishes that later come to meet us at our table.  And numerous times I have desired to be on the other side of the glass...with Chef Barrale...for a more intimate, up close and personal look.

My chance came on the 6th of July.  A cooking class held by Barrale, the third in a series of get togethers held in  Marenna's second kitchen located behind the private dining room.  It was here where I, and another 29 or so, students spent nearly four hours learning cool recipes for a hot summer.  E' arrivata l'estate-summer has arrived!

The chef took us step by step as he demonstrated the cooking techniques, cooking tips, and plating of an appetizer, first course, second and dessert.  Each dish was served with a different wine from Feudi dei San Gregorio.Here's a quick rundown, recipes to follow over the next couple of weeks.

La mia 'pizzaiola'-an appetizer with a carpaccio of Scottona (fillet of beef) with a smoked eggplant stuffing, tomato sauce, and a mozzarella 'cloud'.  This was served with Serrocielo 2010 Sannio Falanghina DOC

Ziti spezzati, ragu' di cozze, ricotta e friggitelli-broken ziti, stuffed with ricotta topped with a tomato and mussel sauce, on top of a cream of green peppers.  Pietracalda 2010 Fiano di Avellino DOCG was the wine for this dish.

Porchetta di coniglio, patate alla salvia e ciliegie all'Aglianico-rolled rabbit with a Aglianico wine and chery sauce.  On the side, a potato and salvia chip.  Vino? Cutizzi 2009 Greco di Tufo DOCG

Cioccolato bianco, lime, finocchio e mela verde-a granita made with fennel and green apple on top of a white chocolate mousse.  Here we had DUBL Aglianico-Spumante Metedo Classico.

E' Arrivata l'Estate. Summer had arrived.  An informative and entertaining evening.  An evening with Chef Barrale.

On his side of the glass.

Localita' Cerza Grossa
83050 Sorbo Serpico (Av)
0825 986666

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday in Pizzeria-Salvo-Pizzaioli da 3 Generazioni-San Giorgio a Cremano (Na)

A pizza for lunch.  Nothing unusual for those of us in Naples.  A pizza at your neighborhood pizzeria.  This particular Saturday, I chose a neighborhood in San Giorgio a Cremano.  I chose Salvo-Pizzaioli da 3 Generazioni.The Salvo family has been the neighborhood pizzeria in various addresses for three generations. They have called Largo Arso 10/16 home for 5 years.  

A neighborhood pizzeria, where I chose to sit outside, on a little terrace above the sidewalk with a view of the neighborhood park, with a light breeze on my face.  A neighborhood pizzeria where I could enjoy a crocchè di patate and fried pasta appetizers paired with a cold beer and sounds of the street;  light traffic, children laughing…the neighborhood.  Where I could look at photos of the earlier generations on the wall.  Look, listen and learn how life used to be in the Salvo neighborhood.

A pizzeria where I could chat with pizzaiolo Salvatore, a young pizza maker I had met a few weeks earlier on the beach at Vico Equense.  A chat with Salvatore Salvo, one of the three brothers of the current generation.  A chat about dough making, his favorite pizzas, and his love for what he does.    Salvo’s menu has all of the classics; margherita, marinara, olio e pomodoro to name a few.  There was even his famous ripieno fritta, a fried calzone, which has clients waiting at least an hour for a table on any given Saturday night.  At least an hour for a seat at a pizzeria that can hold up to 84 pizza lovers, be it inside or outside.

I chose a pizza with provola and fresh tomato slices.  A pizza that was as delicious to look at as it was to eat. It was hard not to not to notice other pizzas that passed me by on their way to other tables. One with rucola, another salsiccia e friarielli.  A romana, 4 stagione, a capricciosa.  Other couples, families, and friends, who like me, wanted a pizza.  A pizza from the neighborhood.  A small neighborhood in San Giorgio a Cremano.  

Largo Arso 10/16
San Giorgio A Cremano (Na)
081 275306

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lunch at Locanda Delle Trame with Chef Giuseppe Daddio-San Leucio (Ce)

I'm not sure why, but the morning of my visit to meet Chef Giuseppe Daddio of Locanda delle Trame, I was a little nervous. A few butterflies.  Come to think of it, I had a little trouble sleeping the night before.  Why?  I've known the chef for awhile...well, kind of.  I have published a few of his recipes on my blog over the past few months.  But officially, we had never met. 

I decided to fix that.  I made an appointment with the chef at his restaurant in Caserta for a Sunday lunch.  An appointment to sit down, try some of his dishes, and figure out what was up with all the butterflies.  

Sunday lunch , served on the terrace.  A glass of spumante  asprinio from I Borboni.and a very  light breeze to help combat the heat that afternoon. A glance at the menu. A menu that opens with a note from the chef.  And skimming over the page, this phrase jumped out at me, E' vero l'occhio e l'offatto sono sempre importanti ma non principali rispetto al palato...It's true that sight  and sense of  smell are always important but not principle in respect to the palate.  And with that thought, I was about to begin a day at the chefs table.  I had a full menu to choose from including 3 choices in the degustazione department; Seta, Tra Terra e Territorio, Lino Mare, and Ricett’Iss di mare Terra e Territorio.  I chose the first…Daddio’s selections that would lead me through Campania with dishes rich in products from the terra…land.

As each dish was set on my table I began to think about the chef’s note on the first page of the menu…The presentation and aromas of each dish was appealing in their own way, but what was interesting to me was the palate.  The mozzarella that was paired with basil inside of a lightly fried scallop for my starter.  The breadstick crumb coating wrapped around the fried rabbit chops for my appetizer.  A coating in which reminded me of my grandmother. A coating with flavorful spices that were balanced…had that equilibrium that Daddio later told me was so important.  And on the dish, on the side-a San Marzano tomato, that when lightly pressed released a sauce that worked well with my rabbit chops, as well as the homemade breads on the table. 

Importance of gusto, flavor…importance to satisfy the palate.  Daddio gave me an assaggio of two different pasta dishes.  A ravioli-mezzeluna. Light.  Light in its ricotta filling with a touch of lemon.  Light with its choice of accompaniment of tiny slivers of roasted peppers, a sprinkling of tomato powder and extra virgin olive oil bruciato.   Gusto, flavor -important in his  maccheroni with a pork and vegetable sauce. Gusto, flavor-there in the steak roasted in herbs.  In my two desserts.  . A warm apricot and chocolate tart with a side of hazel nut ice cream. Coconut granita with pineapple and raspberries.

After lunch, while stretching out on the nearby wicker sofa, waiting for the chef, I realized something.  That at some point during the meal, those butterflies disappeared.  I was much more relaxed.  Ready to talk to Chef Daddio. Ready to talk about his 15 concepts in cucina.  His award winning cook book, Ricett’ Iss. His professional cooking school Dolce & Salato.  Ready to talk about his experiences in restaurants such as the Cristallo in Cortina, Badrutz’s Palce Horel in St. Moritz, Capri Palace, Hotel Eden and Dwine Restaurant in Rome just to name a few.  Ready to hear about his television appearances, past and future.  Questions. I had plenty. 

And as I listened to Daddio that afternoon in the terrace of Locanda del Trame. As I listened during our tour of his cooking school in nearby Maddaloni.  Over a caffè and babà at Pasticcieria Lombardi.  I listened and those butterflies returned. But they weren’t the jumbled worried nervous breed.  They were butterflies, caught up in the excitement, caught up in the enthusiasm, caught up in the passion of a chef who has accomplished so much at the young age of 35…and is not looking to stop anytime soon.

I finished my cafè, my babà, and mentally I was planning on when I could come back to visit again.  A cooking class in the fall…a visit at Christmas during pannetone season. Another visit to Caserta.  Me and my butterflies…

Via M. Fiorillo, I (Località Vaccheria)
0823 304055


Technically, I wasn't lost. The two phone calls to Chef Antonio Pisaniello were only to ensure that I was heading in the right direction. Then, a quick question to an elderly couple waiting at a bus stop in Montella (Av).  Ok, one wrong turn.

This particular afternoon I was on my way to visit Chef Pisaniello. But not in Nusco. Not at La Locanda Di Bu, where I had met him and his wife Jenny Auriemma nearly a year to the day ago. Not to his 1 Michelin star restaurant located in one the most beautiful centro storicos I have ever seen.

I was on my way to Ponteromito…6 km from Nusco. Home of Pisaniello’s new adventure-Trattovia.

Antonio was outside when I pulled up and directed me to park just across the street. He was running a little late himself. B U S Y was the word to describe his last few weeks. Lessons at a cooking school in Hong Kong…Festa a Vico, Milan,  and of course, the grand opening of Trattovia on the 13th of June.

As soon as I walked inside I felt relaxed…the light color of the interior design; wood, stone, was totally casual, comfortable. That was Pisanilello’s intent. To give the people what they want, so to speak.

Trattovia...un menu semplice…simple. That’s what I wanted. I sat down at the counter and a smiling Claudio Di Prizio  served me a glass of prosecco and the show began.   It began with Pisaniello handing me  a few simple starters. The classic bruschetta. Then a pizza di pane raffermo with anchovies, mozzarella, oregano, and basil. A crostino with butter and sardines (my new best friend). Prosciutto from nearby Venticano and a small mozzarella.  Break-chat-walk around, and then continue.  I continued with  a threesome. One-A warm, cheesy parmagiana di melanzane. Two-Pizza gialla on a bed of escarole and cannelloni beans. Pizza made with corn flour, lard and small pieces of prosciutto, young chef Giuseppe Lo Iudice described. And threee-a slice of frittata di pasta.

At this point, Pisaniello handed me the menu so that I could choose what I wanted next.  Decide what direction I wanted to go..  And as I looked over this small wooden tablet of a menu, Claudio poured me a glass of Fiano di Avellino.  I looked over the menu,, but I knew what I wanted. I'd seen photographs of this dish all over the net, blogs and facebook.  Cacio e pepe with peas, pancetta and mint. That's what I wanted.That's what I ordered.  That's what he brought me.  A creamy plate of cacio-cheese entwined around pasta from Gragnano.

Still a little space-on to the second course-grilled lamb.Grilled before my eyes from my seat at the counter. Pisaniello felt that I needed a side dish.  This time a foursome of campania classics-zucchina alla scapesce, red and yellow peppers, melenzane ai funghetti, and an old friend-i frigitelli.  I frigitelli-pan fried green peppers.  Time for  my own little private party.  A few  guests-me , Pisaniello's homemade bread basket, and  side dishes.

Break-chat-walk around, and then continue.

Time for dessert...ok, but just an assaggio, small bite...or two. A small strawberry cake in a glass. And Claudio's back, this time with a Mocato from Sicily.

I looked at my watch-wow- four hours had gone by...Time to hit the road. But not before a quick look in the kitchen, a conversation with Pisaniello.  I watched as he checked out the pizza oven in the back.  Checked out the pizza dough that had been rising all day.  Pizza in the evenings-you've got to come back.  I had been thinking the same exact thing.  Maybe to try Tratto Pizza Stop.  An all you can eat pizza challenge.  Sit down-he serves until you say -Stop!

Hmmm...I like a challenge...

Il Gastronomo dal 1908 Trattovia
S.S. 164 Ponteromito (Av)
0827 67009