Sunday, February 3, 2019

An Evening 'A Casa' - Casa a Tre Pizzi, Mergellina (Na)

Chef Francesco Sodano
Casa a Tre Pizzi

My curiosity about the restaurant's name, a strong desire to discover creations by Chef Francesco Sodano, and a strong recommendation from a mutual friend lead me to Mergellina a couple of weeks ago. Casa a Tre Pizzi was my destination - a casa and possibly a new place to call home.

I entered as a sliding glass door revealed a very sleek dining room run smoothly by two brothers Andrea and Mirko Notaro. The brothers took me on a mini tour asked me where I'd prefer to sit; the main dining room on the comfortable velvety couch or in the smaller more intimate area which has a perfect view of Chef Sodano at the pass. He didn't have to ask twice! I chose the pass!

Notaro handed me the menu and this was my perfect opportunity to learn about the background of the name and the logo. I learned that Casa a Tre Pizzi was originally founded as a cantina/small bar that served wine run by Notaro's great great grandmother in Somma Vesuviana back in the early 1900s. The location was named after a triangular shaped house near the cantina which was basically the point of reference for customers to find the place. As time went by, the clientele grew as well as the location by adding food to their offerings. A year ago, with that same spirit and desire, Andrea and Mirko Notaro decided to transfer the casa to Mergllina.

It's always exciting for me to try a place for the first time. After studying the menu and a chit chat with Chef Sodano, I chose the Traditional tasting menu.


tapioca chip with Cantabrian anchovies, peppers, and algae powder

endive with marinated prawn, creme fraiche, and caviar.

fermented lentil falafel with colonnata lard and sumac

steamed then fried bao bun filled with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and truffles

Next, Sodano arrived to my table to talk to me about his first appetizer - his deer tartare with pomegranate, fermented leaves and soil flavor.

 Another one of Sodano’s dishes that I found it quite amazing was his appetizer called beef - grilled beef served with a green sauce and sedano rapa, or in English, celeriac.

Here's his egg 65 degrees with mushrooms and salted zabaglione.

Next up, his first courses starting with my favorite pasta format - spaghettone.    I took advantage again of my proximity to the pass to get a closer look.This plate of pasta, inspired by the tradition 'spaghetti, garlic, olive oil and chili pepper'  dish includes cream codfish, tomato water and tomato water for a touch of acidity. The chef's personal touches included a mix of 4 types of chili peppers and fermented black garlic.

Another fantastic first was his mescafrancesca.  This is a colorful pasta dish with provola cheese and potatoes.

Second course?  Of course. 
Salted cod – an item that pops up quit often on Sodano’s menu.   Fried in a light tempura batter and served with a marinated endive, pumpkin and black lime.

Sodano’s pre dessert.  A pre dessert gives diners a chance to clean their palate, a chance to go from a savory part of the meal to the sweet part of the meal. The chef’s pre dessert evening was a flashback of memories of his childhood in Somali Savannah. A flashback of the aromas from the various leaves grown in his grandmother's garden.  The chef lit some of his leaves to give that smoky flavor.  An aroma that embraced the small dining area and brought it to my table. The leaves housed a small mandarin orange, that when I raised the top, found a fresh frozen surprise of shaved mandarin ice.

Around 10 p.m., the chef invited me back to the pass to try his tiramigiu’, a twist on the classic Italian dessert tiramisu this featured mascarpone cheese, cocoa and coffe in various forms such as coffee gel, and coffee sponges.

Here's a look at the wines; a different glass for nearly every dish chosen for me by Andrea Notaro.

Dinner over - nearly three years that passed by too quickly.  On my way home, I thought back to what Notaro had told me about the history of Casa a Tre Pizzi - how slowly it grew into a gathering place for many.  I could see that potential here in Mergllina as well, with Mirko and Andrea, just celebrating their first anniversary.
Auguri e avanti cosi'!

My visit was on the 16th of January.  Since then, Casa a Tre Pizzi has changed their menu.
 'You'll just have to come back then,' Notaro wrote me.  
I just might do that! A presto

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