Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chef Giulio Coppola, his Gragnano, his Ristorante La Galleria, Gragnano (Na)

I first met Chef Giulio Coppola one summer Saturday evening in the main piazza of Gragnano (Na). The chef was one of half a dozen ish who had prepared a pasta dish for the large crowd that filled the city for A' Pasta that evening.  But as (bad) luck would have it, when I got to Coppola's stand, he was sold out. There was nothing left but Coppola's smile and a mi dispiace, I'm sorry.
Every cloud has a silver lining.  A quick investigation and I learned that Coppola ran a restaurant on the other side of the piazza.  So I decided then and there  that the next time I visited Gragnano, I would make sure to visit Giulio Coppola at his restaurant La Galleria.
Chef Giulio Coppola
The next time came a few weeks ago.  I arranged a visit to one the top pasta factories in town and I invited Coppola to come along with me before  lunch.  I thought he would be the perfect person to elaborate on Gragnano's  passion for pasta . He, a young chef who grew up surrounded by the aromas and  activity of the pasta factories in Gragnano.  After picking his brain in the pasta shop, asking advice about sauces, pasta shapes, pasta cooking times, it was time to head to that familiar piazza where we meet some 18 months earlier.  Piazza Gugielmo Marconi.  To a little shopping plaza, Galleria Garofalo.  To a little restaurant.  To a small table.  To sit down to a lunch prepared by Chefs Coppola and Carmine Sorrentino.  That particular day, Chef Vincenzo Imparato, was also there, assisting his friend Coppola while the restaurant where he worked was closed for the season.  In the dining room, Camilla Inserra greeted me with a smile and a glass of spumante.  I was ready.  Ready for a pasta is a girl's best friend lunch to complete my dynamic day in Gragnano.  The meal began with a welcome/benvenuto...

A ricotta 'lollipop' topped with almonds, anchovies, and figs.
On the table freshly baked breadsticks, bread, and foccaccia...

Next, a colorful and comforting series of appetizers arrived...
Scampi 'al naturale' with a 'liquid' insalata di rinforzo/reinforcement salad

one  egg-three textures:foamy, soft, crunchy...with a touch of parimigiano and white truffle.
From the wine list, I decided to go for a glass or two of Via del Campo Falanghina 2011 from Quintodecimo.

Then it was time for my first course.  The chef sent out a series of delicious combinations.

Lasagna with creamy beans and a lobster and tomato concasse'

Risotto with red mullet and candied apricots.

Spaghetti with white truffles.
My curiosity increased as each dish was brought out.  I had to pop in the kitchen every now and then. It was encouraging to see the teamwork and concentration of the three young chefs who worked in perfect harmony.   We spoke for quite awhile, then Coppola had something to show me.  A tail of beef.
Why?   I wondered.  Because the next dish, I was told would be an interesting inside out version...

Beef tail 'inside out'...a potato stuffed with slow cooked beef, melted caciocavallo cheese, and a grilled spring onion.
The chef asked if I had a little space left.  Well, there is always space for mozzarella and culatello. :-)

And homemade ice cream...

And little pastries.

Yes, I made some space and some time for some conversation before I needed to head back home.  Plus Coppola had to run a few errands.  Off to check out a local organic garden for some fresh produce.  You'll have to come with me next time, he smiled.
I smiled back.
There was much much more that I wanted to learn about Coppola, his Gragnano, and his Ristorante La Galleria.

La Galleria Ristorante 
Piazza Guglielmo Marconi .
Galleria Garofalo
Gragnano, (Na)
39 081 873 30 29

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