Thursday, August 15, 2013

Mare Non Stop - Taverna del Capitano, Marina del Cantone (Na)

A stroll around the small bay with a short pause on the pier.
A bottle of water.
A granita.
Wading up to your knees in the cool clean bandiera blu waters of Marina del Cantone.
A few hours under a light beige umbrella reading, relaxing, taking in the sea.
All activities that I highly recommend  before sitting down to a lunch at a restaurant/hotel that the Caputo family has been operating for three generations.  Michelin star Taverna del Capitano, nestled comfortably  in the family's 4 star hotel. Mare, mare, mare has always been the star of the Caputo family's menu and today would be no different.  I was led to a table by owner /sommelier, Mariella Caputo  and was poured a glass of Cinquantenario Spumante Brut Metedo Calssico by Janare by Claudio De Mauro, the Maitre D' (and one who would prove to be great company for the entire afternoon).  A sip or two as I took in the sea breeze then it was off to the kitchen to talk to Chef Alfosno Caputo.

Chef Alfonso Caputo
The chef was in his kitchen with two young cooks and his mother Grazia, who he introduced as a grande cuoca. Grazia was baking sweet pizzas that would be served to the hotel guests the next morning.  There was an enticing aroma of freshly baked bread.  Caputo told me that the restaurant bakes their own bread daily.  He then took me over to one side of the kitchen and began opening a series of large steel drawers.  We also make our own pasta, he shared.  Well, that may not sound so unusual, many restaurants do.  But not like here in Caputo's kitchen.  This wasn't fresh egg pasta.  Instead, Caputo over the years has studied and perfected how to make his own dried pasta.  Not easy. No one else does it, he added.

We continued our pre-lunch chat until we finally arrived to the topic of what I would like to have that afternoon.  There were plenty of things I could have said.  I have been following the chef for about a year since we met in Vico Equense last summer.  I'd seen plenty of his dishes on Facebook, Twitter and various food blogs.  But I decided to let the chef decide.  To let Caputo steer the ship-pun intended.
And so we set sail..  Beginning with my official benvenuto.  My welcome as I sat down at the captain's table overlooking the beach.

Lightly fried eggplant stuffed with ricotta and fior di latte.

I was ready to choose the wine.  Mariella has built an intense wine list and cantina over the years, with wines from all over, but I decided to choose a wine from the Amalfi Coast.  Tramonti to be exact.  Per Eva 2011 from Tenuta San Francesco.

This selected blend of falanghina, pepella, and ginestra grapes were bound to go well with whatever the chef would be sending my way.

Dishes like these appetizers full of color, simple but complex at the same time.

Paparandolo.  Small shrimp found in only two places n the world.  Portofino, a small fishing village in Genoa, and in nearby Punta Campanella.  Served on a sizzling hot stone (from the beach below, of course) and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.

Next up, a tasty seafood salad with octopus and a red fish gelatin.

Still on the appetizers-calamaro m'buttunat... which is squid stuffed with zucchini flowers ricotta, fior di latte and herbs with a lightly spicy redfish sauce.  I couldn't resist the temptation to take  small piece from one of the freshly baked rolls and use it to soak up the remaining sauce before my next dish was ready.

Every know and then I would find my way back in the kitchen to see Caputo at work.  This time he was finishing up what would be my next dish.  The first of my first courses.  Risotto alla pescatora...seafood risotto.  Caputo served me an assaggini (little taste) on an impressive copper colored mussel shell..  Each bite full of what I came for-mare.  Shrimp and octopus surrounded by creamy flavorful perfectly cooked rice.  To be enjoyed lentamente...slowly as you look out across the bay.

I was curious, however, if I'd get a chance to try Caputo's homemade dried pasta.  The next dish satisfied that curiosity as well as my palate.  Caputo's trafilia pasta lightly and expertly tossed with the family's olive oil and sea urchin eggs.  Eggplants are in season, so a few fried slices were placed lightly on top of the dish.  To the side, a tasty mayonnaise which really wasn't a mayonnaise at all.  No egg,  just a creamy combination of ricotta cheese and eggplant   And just to stick with the theme of the day, Caputo added a few raw sea urchins to complete the dish. 

Time for the second course. A beautiful combination of land and sea.  Sweet and savory.   Red fish with pancetta and sweet kiwi fruit. 

One of my rules when I go out is to always save room for dessert.  I went back in the kitchen to see what the chef had in mind.  Eggplant.  With chocolate.  I must admit that though I had never tried it before, I was a little curious, if not anxious, about how it would taste.  I learned that though tradition calls for the eggplant to be fried, Caputo wanted to make the dish light and delicate.  He decided to make candied eggplant and wrap it gently around ricotta before he drizzled dark chocolate on top.  Delicious.  I would definitely go for it again.

That as well as the small dish of pastries...

And just when I thought I was out of space- I have one more dessert I'd like you to try, Caputo said.
He sent me a dish of summer.  Summer childhood memories.  Cotton candy.  Fresh peaches.  A peach semifreddo popsicle.  Sweet, but non troppo.  I couldn't help but imagine carnival rides.  Ferris wheels and bumper cars.  

My day was over.  And as I (sadly) finished my caffe', I thought about a few more activities that I should add to my list of things to do in Marina del Cantone.  
After lunch, head back to the beach and finish another chapter or two of that summer book you've been reading.  
Reserve a room in the hotel and take a nice little nap.
Visit the cantina with Mariella.  
Head back to beach just in time for sunset and walk along the pier.
Head to the dining room for dinner and another round of creative surprises from Chef Caputo's kitchen.

Taverna del Capitano
Piazza delle Sirene 10/11
Localita' Marina del Cantone
80061 Massalubranese (Na)
081808 1020

No comments:

Post a Comment