Saturday, May 31, 2014

Wine and the Vespa - Vineyard Hopping with Wine and the City

Twenty years in Naples and I had never ridden a Vespa.  Sure over the years I'd admired those who weave in and out of traffic with ease, even shaken my fist at a few who had gotten too close for comfort.  But driven one myself? No.
So when my eyes glanced over the latest Wine and The City program scheduled in Naples in May, my eyes hit an event that I thought was assai interesting...assai assai.
Wine and the Vespa - a tour through Posillipo's vineyards.  Vineyards on a Vespa?  Too cool to pass up.  I made a reservation subito.

Piazza Trieste e Trento, Saturday 18 May, 0930 am.  That was my appointment time with NapolInVespa Tour, a group of enthusiastic young Neapolitans who love their city and are ready to show off its beauty to whoever is ready and willing to hop on the back of a Vespa.
That morning there were about 14 in our group.  And after donning our mandatory helmets, we were on our way.  First stop, Mergellina for a brief history lesson on the town of Posillipo, Mergellina, and even a little Campi Flegrei to help us orient ourselves.  Then back on the bikes to head through hidden alleyways, tight narrow vicos with jaw dropping views as we head our way to Posillipo for a quick apertif.  A Falanghina Spumante brut by Cantine Federiciane Monteleone.  We paired it with a fantastic view of the Gulf of Naples and Mt Vesuvius.
But the vineyards?
Back on the bikes-direction Azienda Agricola Varriale in the heart of Posillipo tucked behind one of Naples' top restaurants Rosiello.  Waiting for us was Salvatore Varriale to share with us what his part of the citta' has to offer.  The small winery produces wines from the areas native grapes;  primarily falanghina and piedirosso. The sun beat down on us pretty hard as we strolled the vineyards.  This gave us a perfect idea of what the vines go through throughout the day, evolving in the fertile volcanic soil.
We tasted two wines that morning, each a falanghina.  Marechiaro  Campi Flegrei DOC Falanghina 2012 and Monte Coroglio Falanghina IGP Campania 2012 (late harvest). Two enticing expressions of the grape variety from this volcanic part of Campania.  Two wines to try again when I had a little more time, maybe along with their piedirosso, their rose' and finish off with a grappa in the family restaurant up the hill.
Back onto our Vespas for a whirlwind tour of an area that is a little of the beaten tourist path.  We visited the Chiesa S. Strato in Posillipo and the surrounding alleys.  It felt a moment as if we were visiting a small fishing village on one of the nearby islands instead of a neighborhood a stone throw from one of Southern Italy's largest cities.
I guess that is what is beautiful about la mia citta'.  Full of surprises - all waiting to be discovered on the back of a Vespa!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Night in Pizzeria - La Dea Bendata, Pozzuoli (Na)

Italy? Campania?  Pizza?
 There's practically a pizzeria on every corner, in every neighborhood.  One Friday evening I decided to visit a neighborhood not far from my own.  One that I hadn't been to in awhile.  Pozzuoli's lungomare, boardwalk. I decided to try a pizza at Ciro Coccia's new-ish pizzeria La Dea Bendata.

I arrived early, well, early for a Friday.  8 pm.  After a pleasant stroll from the public parking lot at the end of the boardwalk, I arrived to a small, comfortable, cozy neighborhood pizzeria; Corso Umberto I, 93.
A quick look at the menu, a quick chat with Coccia and subito a beer and plate of his famous frittura was on the table.

Classics.  Crocche', zeppole, but my favorite was the fried zucchini flower stuffed with ricotta cheese. I could of stopped there, but my curiosity and desire to taste as much as my curiosity (and waistline ) would allow, I moved on to the montanara. A montanara is a fried pizza topped with tomato sauce and a sprinkling of pecorino romano cheese and basil.  Fried, when done well is tasty not greasy.  A perfect snack.

Space for one more pizza on this visit. I figured I could walk of the calories afterwards on the boardwalk.  I looked at the menu.  Small, inviting, not overwhelming.  I passed up the marinara and the margherita choices, though it wasn't easy, and decided to go for something different. 
Coccia suggested La Lardiata.  Pizza  with piennolo tomatoes, lardo di colonnato, and basil. I took him up on his suggestion and I'm glad that I did.

I found myself at home in this little neighborhood not far from my neighborhood.  At this neighborhood pizzeria with the colorful walls, the cozy dining room.  The small but 'full' menu with just the right selections of pizza, craft beer and small selection of wine.  
My evening was over but I couldn't go away without a fried graffa (donut) topped with a drizzle of dark chocolate, now could I.  I mean, I was planning to walk it all off on the boardwalk anyway, right?

Pizzeria La Dea Bendata
Corso Umberto 1, 93
Pozzuoli, Naples
081.19189636 – Cell. 346.3003491
Closed on Mondays
Open Tuesday through Saturday evening.  Sunday at lunch.