Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Sneak Peek at Spring - Taverna Estia, Brusciano (Na)




When is the best time to visit a restaurant for the first time?  At the beginning of the season to try the new items on the menu?  In the heart and heat of the summer?  At the end of the season to get an up close and personal taste of the classics?
My first visit to Taverna Estia - located in the small town of Brusciano on the outskirts of Napoli - falls into the none of the above category.
My first visit to Taverna Estia - located in the small town of Brusciano on the outskirts of Napoli was several months after I introduced myself to Maitre Sommelier Mario Sposito poolside during an event last summer.
My first visit to Taverna Estia - located in the small town of Brusciano on the outskirts of Napoli was a couple of months after I met Mario's brother, Chef Francesco Sposito at event last December.
My first visit to Taverna Estia - located in the small town of Brusciano on the outskirts of Napoli was a few months after this small taverna/ristorante was awarded their 2nd Michelin star.
I arrived at 1 pm ish on a Saturday afternoon - just in time for lunch.  And I was in luck.  Chef Sposito(Europe's youngest bistellato- 32 years old in August) had been working on a new dishes for the spring and asked me if I'd be willing to try it out before he finalizes the menu.  He didn't have to ask twice!  I immediately found my place at a small table next to the window. A table come piace a me...my type of table, with a view of the terrace and a perfect view of the kitchen whose curtains were about to open.
Let the show begin.
Chef Francesco Sposito

It began subito when Maitre Mario Sposito alongside his wife Violetta Bobrova brought out the wine list, a plate of homemade pane and grissini, and what became my new guilty pleasure.  A small vase of algae chips.





 Taverna Estia's algae chips.  A salty savoury snack.  Ingredients are sea algae, rice, patience, and amore.

I wanted to concentrate on the meal, so I entrusted the wine choices to Sposito.  No problem for this highly recognized sommelier who placed down a feather light crystal wine calice and filled it with a glass of  NV Domaine de l'Ocre Rouge La Perle Noire, a French sparkling wine made with pinot noir. 



 It wasn't long after that the appetizers began to arrive, all under the watchful eye of Chef Sposito and his lively brigade.  

A colorful tray jam packed with numerous flavors and textures.  Like this soft green pea sponge with a sliver of pork cheek carefully laid on top.




Bread, butter and smoked anchovy.


A codfish bonbon.


A cannelino with caprino goat cheese and Bronte pistachio nuts.

It was time to change my glass of wine.  To my delight, a  Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio bianco 2011 by Sorrentino Vini.  


A Campania white which paired well with the next few dishes:

A beef emulsion with a foi gras granita, lemon and tarragon.

 With each plate, I was handed a little bit of background, of history, of preparation notes...of flavor.  I particularly rember being handed this plate.  Not sure where to begin.  A lot going on.  A squid ink bigne' filled with burrata cheese covered with a thin layer of squid.. Then, shrimp, mandarin orange slices, and a tarragon sauce.





Mario suggested that I swipe a little of the tarragon sauce as I eat the shrimp. To get that perfect balance of flavor.

Next:


Spinach in two versions:  fresh and spongy.  To accompany a lightly sauteed red mullet and a red turnip sauce.


New course, new wine...We went to Northern Italy for a 2011 vintage of pinot grigio..


Two pasta dishes.  Two pasta assaggini:  Beginning with a dish that whose aroma's brought back memories of my early days in Italia.  Mortadella.  Everyone's favorite sandwich meat.  Here, the staff made a pasta flavored with  pistachio nuts from Bronte.  On the side a smooth creamy mortedella mousse, powdered burnt leek, fresh pistachios and pistachio oil.



Sticking with pasta, Chef Sposito sent a dish out that the my camera loved as much as I did.

 Fettucce pasta cacio e ova - a cacio cheese and eggs sauce with slices of black truffles. And the cheese did not stand alone...A seabass tartar held its own on the side of the plate.


Spring had something to say in Sposito's second courses as well.  Beginning with sea bass with asparagus and a thin layer of pork cheek on a mussel sauce and an onion confit on the side.


Then, maybe the dish of the day... a scallop and fennel salad on a bed of creamy fennel al pastis.


Dessert?  I usually pass, but.  Ok.  Maybe a small tray of piccoli pastries.  And as usual, my eye and hand went straight for the chocolate.  Like this chocolte rosemary truffle  (which earned its own post! ) and a chocolatey macaroon. 


Meal over.  What is really 5:30 pm?  I guess so.  I enjoyed a  long and pleasurable conversation with Mario, his mother,  and wife Violetta, We talked about the upcoming season, lunch in the garden, jazz nights. I then headed into the kitchen to say goodbye to the kitchen brigade, salutare the chef.  A quick see you later/I enjoyed myself/grande/grande/ciao was basically all that escaped my lips, since the staff was in full swing getting ready for yet another sold out Saturday night.  
Chef Sposito shook my hand, a quick smile, then added - "On your next visit, I'll have you try some of our classics..."
Next visit?
When is the best time to visit a restaurant for the second time?  At the beginning of the season to try the new items on the menu?  In the heart and heat of the summer?  At the end of the season to get an up close and personal taste of the classics? 




Taverna Estia
Via G. De Ruggiero, 108
80031 Brusciano (Na)

081 519 9633

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