Friday, June 25, 2021

Ricordi di Pane e Nutella - Il Faro di Capo D'Orso, Maiori (Sa)


Who doesn’t have ricordi di pane e nutella?  Bread and Nutella  memories? Who doesn’t remember the first time they tried that creamy hazelnut spread on piece of bread? Nutella©, since it was first introduced in 1964, has made its way from Piedmont in Northern Italy to kitchen cabinets, kitchen tables, recipes, and lunch boxes all over the world.

A few weeks ago, a bread and Nutella memory found its way to the corner table in Il Faro DiCapo D’Orso’s dining room brought to me by Restaurant Manager Antonio Falco.  That  latest dessert by  the fratelli Sodano; Francesco and Salvatore Sodano.  Two brothers, who growing up together, surely have a myriad of memories to share.


They oxidized a brioche, giving the bread the brown color of Nutella – no cocoa.   The ice cream is hazelnut, but notice that it is white.  A few drops of essence of hazelnut,   black truffle shavings...

And a sprinkle of memories.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Follow the Route - Armatore's La Dispensa, Cetara (Sa)


Segui la rotta: 40°38′51″ N 14°42′03″ E đź“Ť Destinazione: Cetara

Follow the route: 40 ° 38′51 ″ N 14 ° 42′03 ″ E đź“Ť Destination: Cetara

Those words, provided by Armatore, were a) a suggestion, b) instructions c) an invitation or d) all of the above.

Last Saturday, I chose d - all of the above.  I mean, I was in the mood to go for a drive –since restrictions have been lifted in Campania, the desire to hit the road is understandable, and justified, I must say.  So, I took a trip to Cetara on the Amalfi Coast.   I wanted to pick up some items from Armatore (I wrote about them here) and visit La Dispensa for a quick bite to eat.   

 Aperitivo, Pranzo Cena.I tre momenti magico da vivere vista mare… 

Aperitif, Lunch, Dinner. Three magical moments to experience with a view of the sea ...

I chose pranzo-lunch.

I managed to get a parking space in the town’s parking lot next to the dock.  Perfect, because that is exactly where La Dispensa is located.  La Dispensa means the pantry in English, and this little dispensa is stocked with jars of anchovies, tuna (filets and belly), bottarga, and bottles of colatura di alici riserva 2017- anchovy sauce.  This little dispensa is where Chef Adriano Dentoni Litta goes to get his inspiration to create dishes for diners looking for a tasting menu with a twist. My reservation was for 1230 in the afternoon, and I was offered one of the twelve stools at a long wooden table facing the sea. Luckily for me, that particular day – a light breeze passed through the dining room carved into the rock. 

I ordered sparkling water and a glass of white wine, Puntocroce Costa D'Amalfi Bianco 2013, and snacked on the aperitif as I looked over the choices on the tasting menu. 

Cream puffs with lemon ricotta and bottarga

Tartlet with red tuna mousse and roasted pepper powder

Almond crumble with anchovy butter

Then my choices arrived – I started off with the chef’s Cappuccino 

A warm appetizer with red tuna belly, creamy peas and basil, a Parmigiano mousse and coffee.

 Next, Litta’s version of the classic spaghetti with colatura di alici. 

Spaghettone with sweet garlic cream, colatura di alici riserva, mussels, and parsley sauce.

Then his fish and chips -

Cod in a panko bread crust, tuber chips, potato mousse and mayonnaise with colatura di alici riserva.

I was then offered an extra

a dessert which was a gin and tonic: featuring gin cream, cucumber gel, crumble, and tonic water foam.

After lunch, I stepped into the little pantry to chat with the chef briefly as he prepared lunch for the diners who arrived after me. 

Chef Adriano Dentoni Litta

I learned that very shortly La Dispensa would be renovating parts of the kitchen and dining area.  Great!  That would give me a chance to come back and see what’s new.

Aperitivo, Pranzo Cena.I tre momenti magico da vivere vista mare…

The next time I’ll choose…aperitif.

Segui la rotta: 40°38′51″ N 14°42′03″ E - Destinazione: Cetara






Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Sophia's Kiss, Il Faro di Capo D'Orso, Maiori (Sa)


Last Saturday afternoon, Chef Francesco Sodano, Executive Chef of Il Faro di Capo D’Orso, took me by the hand and led me through the vicoli of Naples.  Well, not really – but as we talked after lunch last weekend, my table was transformed into a narrow Neapolitan alley featuring piccolo pieces of Campania’s capital city. Pastries representing clothes hanging out to dry, Neapolitan pizza, frittatina, and even a caffè sospeso/suspended coffee.  There was one item that stood out for me.  At the center of the table was a pair of dark red lips.  Il Bacio di Sophia, Sodano told me.  Sophia’s Kiss.  Il Faro di Capo D’Orso’s tribute to Napoli’s grande donna -  actress Sophia Loren.

Let’s be honest, she  filled us with emotion  at the cinema and at the theater with her curves.  The beauty and sweetness of these lips, this lipstick.  Inside there is salty caramel, so we wanted to reproduce the sweetness of beautiful women. - Sodano told me.

I remember when I moved to Italy nearly 30 years ago.  I watched a lot of her films to help me learn the language.  And I remember thinking back then, and even now wow, what a wonderful woman.  A woman from humble backgrounds, who on the screen showed us many different personalities that I believe many of us- men and women admire.  In 2019, when she turned 85, Italian news station sky TG2424 used these words to describe her; romantic, strong, gritty, intense, seductive, magnetic, exuberant, irresistible.  I’d like to add 1 more …fantasticaaa.

Sodano left me alone in the vicoli of Naples so I could explore it on my own.  The frittatina, pizza, clothes hanging on the line.  The caffe sospeso.  There was just one small pastry left. 

At the center of the table -those dark red lips.  Il Bacio di Sopia How was it?  To me it  was romantic, strong, gritty, intense, seductive, magnetic, exuberant, irresistible…and fantasticaaa.

Friday, June 11, 2021

I'm Going to Miami, Chef Marco Giugliano, Doma Restaurant, Miami, Florida


Chef Marco Giugliano
You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy. That saying comes to mind when I think of Chef Marco Giugliano. Giugliano is the executive chef of Doma Restaurant in Miami, Florida. A long way from his hometown of  Piazzola di Nola, Campania, Italy. the first couple of minutes have a phone call with Giugliano you hear his Neapolitan accent, his Neapolitan enthusiasm, his Neapolitan is Neapolitan drive and determination.

Let’s back up a bit.  Just un pochino and learn how this 31-year young chef made it from a small town in the province of Naples to one of the hottest cities in the US of A.  A ragazzo who has always dreamt of working in America.  A young man who spent 10 years working in Michelin starred restaurants in Campania such as Le Torre Del Saracino, Quattro Passi, Taverna Estia, and also worked with Pastry Chef Pasquale Marigliano.  A young man who decided to make his own way, so to speak. 

His American dream had it’s first stop in Connecticut where he was the head chef of Strega Restaurant.  It was that small town, similar in size to his hometown, that opened the doors wide open for him to have opportunities in New York (where he serves as a consultant) and Miami – where he has made his home for the last 2 years.

Giugliano is the first to admit that running an Italian restaurant in the states wasn’t easy.  Giugliano serves his pasta al dente-which many Americans are not used to.  Then serving size.  80 grams of pasta. Not the 260 to 300 grams that the chef has noticed is often served around town.


At Doma, the chef also stuck to his guns when it came to the idea of a tasting menu.  Slowly, but surely giving his diners the real Italian/Campania experience.  Giugliano is also faithful to products from Campania – pasta from Gragnano, piennolo tomatoes, fior di latte and buffalo milk mozzarella are a must on his menu.

So, what can one find at Doma?  Giugliano described to me some of hi mouth-watering dishes that made me want to book a flight to Miami!

Chef, how long has Doma been open?

Doma opened up about 2 ½ years ago, but I arrived 2 years ago due to prior commitments.  At the beginning it was a little tough because in Miami people are used to a different type of cuisine, there is, for example, a wide variety of street food.  When one thinks of Italian food here, they think dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs-which is not my idea of Italian cuisine.  My dishes are slightly revisited- but just a bit.  Not at the level of my friends who are chefs with Michelin stars in Italy.  Not that they have more opportunities/possibilities, but here in Miami I have to have a higher number of diners, higher turnover of tables. 

Sure- he would love to do more, but at this point, he also understands that he is not in the small town where he grew up.

The chef continued- and it was a fantasticaaa opportunity to listen to him describe his dishes, his cuisine.

We do it all, fresh pasta, bread, ice cream, sorbets, - every dish has 6/7 elements such as crunchiness, bitter etc.

I believe that I can always do more- but then I remember that I live in a city different from where I grew up.

But that hasn’t stopped Giugliano- actually, I believe it has given this young Neapolitan chef to continue to push the envelope – We talked earlier about portion size and tasting menus.  Giugliano told me that he has about 75% of his diners requesting his tasting menus instead of a la carte.

It Is not often that I speak with a chef about his/her menu without having a chance to taste it for myself.  But I was curious, so I asked Marco about some of his dishes-

He began with his soft egg.  A dish that is similar to the eggs in purgatory- a dish that his mother makes.  A dish which includes an egg cooked at a very low temperature, Parmigiano Reggiano foam, eggplant cooked in ashes (ten extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper), then a homemade tomato jam (piennolo tomatoes of course) and eggplant chips.  He tops it of with a basil oil and a little pepper.


Another dish that he was excited to talk about was a dish that maybe some of us take for granted.  Spaghetti with clams.  He has made several versions.


Spaghetti with clams, squid salami Porcini cream and roasted tarallo with rosemary

His latest stars linguine as the pasta format with Italian parsley water, mussel broth, cauliflower cream, a garlic bread crumble.

Giugliano sticks to his mission of serving pasta al dente -nothing is precooked, which at times can be a challenge when he has to serve numbers as high as 150 diners per day.  He shares his successes with his kitchen brigade – a team of 5/6 young cooks who also shares his American dream.

Before ending our phone call, I was curious about a couple of things.  One, being the chef’s idea of serving products according to their season.  Giugliano told me that he is a stickler for seasonality- he changes 50% of his menu every three months.  Example- a grilled octopus can be served with pumpkin squash in one season, 

peas the next.  June is potato and green bean season, so that is what will accompany his octopus.

It was a pleasure to chat with Giugliano, not only about his experiences and dishes.  It was exciting to see that there are chefs like Marco Giugliano, Campania chefs, who are fulfilling their dreams, step by step, without having to compromise their ideas and philosophies of Italian/Campanian cuisine far away from home.

You can take the boy out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the boy.


Photos courtesy of Chef Giugliano. 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Botox, Beer, and Bucket Lists- Francesco Capece, La Locanda dei Feudi, San Cipriano Picentino (Sa)


It has been at least a couple of years since I added La Locanda dei Feudi, Francesco Capece’s pizzeria, to my bucket list of places to visit/pizzas to try.  There, however has always been one thing that made me press ‘pause’.   The distance.  Google maps told me time and time again that the distance from my home to my pilgrimage destination was 100 km – about 62 miles.  About an hour or so of driving. 

The past few months, however, I was encouraged by close trusted friends to go for it.  His toppings are great…I was told.  His pasta dough is close to perfect…another shared. So last weekend, I decided to test it out for myself -  to see what La Locand dei Feudi would reveal to me on an early Saturday evening in June.

The pizzeria opens at 7:30 pm.  I arrived at 7.  Oops!  That was ok, a smiling Capece assured me…that way he could spend a few minutes to chat before his busy Saturday evening began.

The past year has not been easy for pizzerias in Campania like Capece’s.  La Locanda is only open during the evenings and did not cater to delivery or take away during the red zone periods.  It was painful for the 30 year old pizzamaker and his team to remain closed for a long period of time.  Capece shared with me that during the closure he renovated his kitchen, ordered new mise en place and worked on his menu. That way he would be ready when the time came.

Ready for evenings like that particular Saturday.  As I sat down at my table, he suggested that I take a look at the menu. 

Francesco, I have been studying your menu for 2 days.  I would like to order your Botox.  Botox and a beer.

Bene!  was his response.

A few minutes later, my beer – chosen by Capece – arrived.  Hilde, Extraomnes Brewery.

A few minutes later, a little surprise. Since I hadn’t ordered one of the many tempting starters, Capece wanted me to try a slice of his Neapolitan Genovese.  This pizza is first fried then placed in a wood burning oven with stewed Montoro copper onions, celery and carrots.  After it comes out of the oven Capece places Bavarian Scottana beef and annurca apples, Parmigiana Reggiano cheese, extra virgin olive oil DOP Colline Salernitane (Giffoni), and basil. 

A pleasant surprise, I must admit.

Surprise #2-

An arancino made with saffron risotto creamy Normandy butter, 36-month aged  Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Mangalica prosciutto cotto, jersey fiordilatte, ground black pepper, served on a bed of cream 100 giorni peas, and San Marzano tomatoes.

This was also pleasant.  But I must admit, I was curious about my Botox.  The pizzeria was filling up, and I was getting a little nervous about the ride home and whether or not I would make the 11 pm curfew.

Then I remembered that part of the pizza experience is the pizzeria experience.  Chatting with friends/family…right next to La Locanda, there is even space with a small playground and piazza for young children.  Fantasticaaa, because after being restricted for months and months, a little breath of fresh air and liberty is more than welcome.

Back to my Botox

Capece brought it to my table himself and quickly explained the ingredients before racing back to the kitchen….

A fondue made with  Caciocavallo cheese aged in Castelcivita caves, a Jersey cow fiordilatte, buffalo milk blue chees, Cilento white fig jam, 24-month Parmigiano Reggiano chips, Leccino (Controne) monocultivar extra virgin olive oil, and basil.

 I had my Botox, and I enjoyed every last bite.  Of course I was curious about the name.  Capece explained.

First of all because, I made fun of the name of a friend of mine "Bodo" by dedicating the pizza to him. But then I decided that I had to give it a meaning. I wanted to make a 4 cheese pizza greedy and satisfying.  After all, you feel fulfilled after eating it - just like a woman who does Botox and is satisfied with the results.

I thought about that for a bit as I checked La Locanda dei Feudi off on my bucket list.  Am I satisfied?  Fulfilled?

Experts say Botox treatments can last 3 to 4 months…

I’m not sure if I can wait that long before my next fix- plus there is an entire menu to try.  100 km is not really that far after all…

In the meantime, I'll enjoy my Botox fix and my Saturday evening in pizzeria - one of the best that I've had in a long time.