Archive for the Naples Category

Naples – Centro Storico – Street Art

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples with tags , on February 9, 2016 by gannet39

Naples is a hot spot for street art and graffiti. Most of the best stuff is found on Via Tribunali, Spaccanapoli and their side streets, particularly around the university district.

Artists come from everywhere to display their art, like Banksy for instance.

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CRL is on a similar tip.

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But this is my favourite one by CRL.

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CLET is a French artist who lives in Florence. I’ve seen his work in Genoa and Madrid as well.

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KAF

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CYOP

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CYOP & KAF

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Zolta

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Diego Miedo



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Some political stencils.

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And some not.

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Some graff.

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Some posters.

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Unknown artists

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Naples – Centro Storico – Porta Gennaro

Posted in Campania, Centro Storico, Italy, Naples, Porta Gennaro with tags , , on February 8, 2016 by gannet39

Porta Gennaro is the on the northern boundary of San Lorenzo, the quarter of Naples that corresponds to the Centro Storico. Via Foria separates San Lorenzo from Sanita which I wrote about in my previous post. The Archaeological Museum is nearby…

…and there’s an excellent pizzeria here:

Pizzeria Lombardi (A), 12/14 Via Foria, www.pizzerialombardi.it

There are quite a few reasons I like Lombardi but in a nutshell the pizza is great, the service is good and you can sit outside if you wish.

I’m not sure how they make their pizza base but it’s different to elsewhere, lighter and softer somehow. My local teacher friend thought that it might be because they use sparkling water when they’re mixing the dough. It’s like no other pizza I’ve tasted.

I had their buffalo mozzarella Margherita which was great (A) although not particularly cheap at €9.

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… and a bottle of Peroni Rosso which was a new beer to me. It hit the spot perfectly (A).

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Everything feels more refined here for some reason. The friendly guy who served me spoke the best English I’ve ever encountered in a pizzeria (not that this matters).

I like their quirky décor too. Definitely in my top five pizzerias.

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Capasso (Intermediate B+), 2 Via Porta San Gennaro (in the shadow of the gate).

I was brought to this restaurant and pizzeria for lunch on a few occasions. Unfortunately I only eat salads for lunch and avoid any carbs because I can’t afford to be sleepy at work. The salads were very good though!

According to local food critic Lucinano Pignataro they are renowned for their pizza. I’ll have to come back and try one.

Naples – Rione Sanita

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples, Rione Sanita with tags , , on February 7, 2016 by gannet39

I worked in Rione Sanita (otherwise known as Stella) for a week in 2015. It’s a very historical area and Maria one of the teachers was kind enough to give me a tour which is how I know about all the stuff below.

Unfortunately nowadays it’s also a poverty stricken Camorra stronghold with a high crime rate so I was advised to be on my guard in the evenings when dusk was falling. Any eating was done around Porta Gennaro on Via Foria, a busy main road nearby (see next post).

Rione Sanita literally means ‘health district’ and the name arose because the area was perceived to be a healthier place to live than other neighbourhoods, perhaps because of the fresher winds from the sea at this slightly higher altitude. Many rich people built their ‘palazzi’ here as a result.

One famous house is the Palazzo dello Spagnolo at 19 Via dei Vergini, built by the architect Ferdinando Sanfelice.

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The façade doesn’t look particularly interesting but if you walk into the internal courtyard you can see a lovely example of a ‘hawk’s wing staircase’ with its double flight of stairs.

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The ceilings have beautifully ornate stucco work.

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Some floors of the palace are to become a museum dedicated to the famous Neapolitan actor, writer and comedian Totò who was born in Sanita in 1898. The image of ‘the Prince of laughter’ can be found all over the city, sometimes in the most unexpected places…

As the Italian equivalent to Charlie Chaplin he made over one hundred films, often playing poor, slightly immoral but ultimately good-hearted characters. The spaghetti scene in the 1954 film ‘Miseria e Nobiltà’ (Poverty and Nobility) is one of his most famous.

Via dei Vergini is home to a thriving street market that is worth a wander. At 60 Via dei Vergini you’ll see an archway that leads to Via Supportico Lopez.

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In the archway itself there’s a small shrine with a painted cross that is very old according to Maria. She told me that the reason there are so many shrines in Naples is because they were an early form of street lighting. The candles allowed people to see where they were going and greatly reduced the rate of street crime (see my post on shrines).

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A few metres up Via Supportico Lopez on the left is La Primizia da Tonino, a fantastic green grocers. Another teacher told me it’s reputed to be ‘the best in Naples’. It certainly is the most vibrant one I’ve seen although by the look of him I think Tonino scoffs a lot of his own produce.

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I love the displays of cherry tomatoes. The variety pictured are the famous Pomodorini del Piennolo del Vesuvio which are hung in clusters to extend their freshness.

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This is the best tomato for dishes such as pasta with clams and acquapazza. Just wish I had access to a kitchen!

Naples – Materdei

Posted in Campania, Italy, Materdei, Naples with tags on February 6, 2016 by gannet39

Starita a Materdei (Elementary A), 27-28 Via Materdei, Tel. 081 557 3682/ 5441 485, www.pizzeriastarita.it

I heart this famous pizzeria, even though it’s a bit of a trek. It’s a fair way up the steep hill that runs up the side of the Archaeological Museum (Google map here). On the plus side there are no tourists because of the hill so they’ll be happy to see you, which makes a nice change from the grumpy staff at most pizzerias in the old town.

They sell Lowenbrau (B) by the litre here, and feeling thirsty after the climb, I started off with a huge flagon that went a long way to filling me up.

They have a very impressive range of fritti, including a delicious Frittatine di Pasta (A+) which is a deeply satisfying, deep fried mixture of spaghetti, pork and smoked buffalo mozzarella cheese.

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Other classics on the menu are angioletti (deep-fried pizza dough), crocche di patate (potato, mozzarella, bread crumbs), arancini (rice, ham, peas, mozzarella, pecorino) and fiori di zucca (courgette flowers).

Others I think might be creations of the restaurant, such as montarnarine (dough puffs topped with tomato sauce, pecorino), soffritelle (stuffed with a ‘sofrito’ of onion, celery, carrot) fraticelli (lightly fried dough stuffed with aged provolone), battilochi (with pesto) and rotolino (with courgette flowers and nuts).

I’m not one to change my pizza eating habits so as usual I had a Margherita Bufala which, as guaranteed by the sign outside, was a classic Vera Pizza Neapolitana (A).

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The Sarno area of Campania has a famous apple, the Mele Annurca, which has its own DOC  (see my Sarno post). A liqueur called Rossolio is made from the apple which I adore. When I saw it on the list of digestivi I ordered it immediately but was disappointed to receive a factory made version that did little for me (C).

Despite this small disappointment at the end, this is a great place for food and they were very friendly towards me. I shall be back.

Naples – Montecalvario – stuff to see around La Pignasecca

Posted in Campania, Italy, La Pignasecca, Montecalvario, Naples with tags , on February 5, 2016 by gannet39

Montecalvario is the neighbourhood to the west of Via Toledo. It takes in much of the Spanish Quarter and the area to the north, all the way up to the National Archaeological museum.

Within Montecalvario, Via Pignasecca is the street just to the north of the Spanish Quarter. It’s home to the oldest street market in Naples but I never get to go as I’m usually working when it’s open (8am to 1am). Here are some pictures from the web to give you an idea.

The market is best accessed along Via Pignasecca which leads from Piazza della Carita on Via Toledo. On the west side of the square, in the entrance to the building on the corner with Via Pignasecca, there’s a nice hawk wing staircase.

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I hope to fill up this post with more photos on my next trip, so I’ve put places to eat in Pignasecca in a separate post.

Naples – Montecalvario – places to eat around Pignasecca

Posted in Campania, Italy, La Pignasecca, Montecalvario, Naples with tags , , , on February 4, 2016 by gannet39

Like the Spanish Quarter, Pignasecca is a good area to experience Cucina Tipica Napoletana. I especially like this place…

La Taverna Buongustaio (Elementary B+), 8 Via Basilo Puoti, first left off Via Pasquale Scura which is at 394 Via Toledo.Tel. 081 551 2626. Open every day for lunch and dinner except Sunday evening.

Buongustaio

The ‘Gourmet Tavern’ is a favourite of mine, and of Anthony Bourdain it would seem. (Here’s an out take (in Italian) of his No Reservations show). It’s s a tiny hole in the wall place which somehow manages to squeeze in 26 covers. The decor is plain with cartoon drawings on the walls. Plastic tablecloths complete the ambience.

Inside

It’s usually fully booked so try to reserve for when it opens at 8pm. It’ll be full with locals by 9 and have a queue by 10. The menu is spoken (quickly) so it’s best to have some ability in Italian. The Italian word for slowly is ‘lentamente’.

I can recommend the antipasti misto which includes mini versions of bruschetta, deep fried mozzarella, an arancina (rice ball), a croquette, and something ‘di pasta’ which I didn’t quite catch, but it’s all delicious (A).

Rustici

I can recommend the Spaghetti con Polipetti; pasta with baby octopus in a sauce of cherry tomatoes and parsley (A).

Spaghetti con Polipetti

The Rigatoni with bacon, tomato and chilli is good too (B+).

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The deep fried Pesce Bandera (a white fish which looks like a long silver band) was nice but the portion is a bit small (B).

Pesce Bandera

You might want a second secondo, perhaps the Salsiccia Napoletana (A) with a side helping of bitter Friarelli (B).

Salsiccia Napoletana

The house white becomes more agreeable after the first few sips as does the red (both C+).

There are no desserts but they have, amongst others, Melannurca; a digestivo made from the famous Campanian apple (see my Sarno post).

My gluttonous bill can come to a mere €30 for four dishes and three drinks, but you could easily spend much less here, say €20, and still be satisfied. The service is now much friendlier than it was.

La Vecchia Cantina (Elementary B+), 14 Via San Nicola alla Carita, which is at 378 Via Toledo.

A pleasant little place with red gingham table cloths, old but spruced up and serving trad Neapolitan dishes. Many things on the menu were indecipherable but so cheap you might as well just order them to see what they are. The service is friendly but non-English speaking, so you should have some ability in Italian if you want to negotiate what’s on offer.

To start I had Zeppoline di Mare for €2.50 (B); deep fried doughballs with “algae” which I presume is seaweed.

Zeppoline di Mare

I sent the house red back as I couldn’t drink it (D), and had it replaced with a bottle of Falanghina white which got better with time after a poor start (B-). Although it was chilled, they couldn’t supply a wine cooler, although they did keep it in the fridge and poured it out for me when I wanted it.

Falanghina

For my pasta course I had “Spollichini” for €5, which turned out to be a version of Pasta e Fagioli (cannellini beans) but with short spaghettis rather than the usual mixed pasta. Simple but delicious (B for buoni!), especially when sprinkled with peperoncino and oil.

Spollichini

Next I had the house signature dish Filetto Vecchia Cantina, a good quality but small and slightly overdone beef steak (B-), which was the most expensive thing on the menu at €13. Also I’m not fond of the Italian tendency to put shavings of Parmesan on a steak which detracts from the taste of both as far as I’m concerned. I had it with a contorno of Spinaci Burro e Parmagiano (spinach with butter and parmesan) which was great (A) if a bit calorific.

Filetto

To finish, a warmed piece of Charlotte di Mele (a slice of apple sponge cake) and a mingy glass of slightly chilled limoncello (not frozen which is my preference), which was only €2.50. So I had another.

Charlotte di Mele

Conclusion: theoretically you could eat five dishes of good food here with a half litre of ropey wine for under €30. However my bill came to a greedy €46 which was still very good value. Locals were still arriving to eat at 10.30pm.

Antica Pasticceria Pasquale Scaturchio (Intermediate B+), 22-24 Via Portamedina alla Pignasecca, armandoscaturchio.com

This is an old cafe (since 1903) near the Montesanto Metro station. It’s a friendly place that does good coffee and cakes.

Decent cuppa

I had two small Babas (Babarini) one with ‘panna’, which is cream in English, and the other with ‘crema’, made from sweetened ricotta. It’s easy to get confused!

Babarini

Not somewhere to go out of your way for but a good place for a pit stop if you’re in the area.

Antiche Delizie (Intermediate A), 14 Via Pasquale Scura

A deli selling cheese, charcuterie, anti-pasti and wines. They are said to sell the best Mozzarella in town and on Fridays they sell Caprignetti, a herb-stuffed goat’s cheese.

Naples – Spanish Quarter – Where to eat Cucina Tipica Napoletana

Posted in Campania, Italy, Naples, Quartieri Spagnoli with tags , , on February 3, 2016 by gannet39

To experience typical Neapolitan home cooking the best area to go to is the Spanish Quarter. There are quite a few small trattorias and cantinas here serving Cucina Tipica Napoletana at bargain prices. I’ve listed three below in order of preference.

Trattoria da Nennella (Elementary A), 105 Vico Lungo Teatro Nuovo (between the cross streets Vico Figuerelle a Montecalvario and Vico Teatro Nuovo, which you will find at 323 Via Toledo), Tel. 081 414338. GEM ALERT!

I stumbled upon this place many years ago when I was wandering aimlessly around, well off the tourist track. There were several locals waiting outside which I took as a good sign so I put my name down and joined the queue. When my turn came, the waiters renamed me Raffa and plonked me at a table with some builders for company who kindly helped me choose what to eat.

All I had was a slab of Lasagna with tiny meatballs inside it, and a plate of Friarielli, a local green which looks similar to spinach but is actually from the broccoli family, and is particular to Campania. This quick meal was one of the most delicious things I’d ever eaten and ridiculously cheap, around €4 (in 2005).

The place also stuck in my head because of the funny waiters who occupied themselves during quiet moments by throwing empty plastic water bottles at each other over the heads of their customers.

I tried to find it again every time I went back to the city but to no avail, until I finally tracked it down again in 2011.

The sawdust on the floor has disappeared and they now have an outside terrace, which means they can seat more customers, but you still have to arrive early to avoid queuing.

Nonella

The food was the same as I remembered; good basic fare with no pretensions, and very, very cheap, although sadly the lasagna of my dreams was not on the menu that day.

Instead I had Pasta e Patate con Provola; mixed shape pasta with potatoes and melting lumps of Provola cheese, very simple and carb heavy and made even more delicious with a heaped tablespoon of parmesan sprinkled over it (B+).

Pasta e Patate con Provola

Next Polipo in Cassuola, a whole baby octopus stewed with cherry tomatoes until very tender. It looked a bit daunting at first, but tasted very nice (B).

Polipo in Cassuola

My contorno once again was Friarielli in Padella (from the frying pan) (B).

 

They don’t do desserts but I got a plastic cup of cherries to finish.

All this came with bread, water, and a big unlabelled bottle of white wine, all for the astounding price of €12. I challenge you to find better value, tasty food anywhere else in the city.

The waiters haven’t changed either, it’s the same two brothers who seem to run the place. At one point there was a sudden blast of sound as a salsa tape was put on and an unsuspecting customer was pulled out of her chair and whirled around the tables by one of the brothers.

A turn around the tables

Conclusion: great food and entertainment, what more could you ask?

Hostal Toledo (Elementary B), 78 Vico Giardinetto, www.hosteriatoledo.it

I came here for Sunday lunch in 2015. It’s fairly atmospheric and quite popular with locals and tourists alike. Service is friendly and efficient.

I started with the Antipasti Toledo (grilled peppers, two types of mushrooms, potatoes, grilled aubergine and deep-fried mozzarella and aubergine frittura) which was okay (B).

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Then Ziti al Ragu; tubes of pasta with a simple tomato sauce (B). Ziti are a type of penne but are longer and have square cut edges. The name can also refer to a dish that uses penne.

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To drink, a white wine from Ischia from Parrazzo, the oldest winery on the island www.perrazzo.it. This was the only let down (C), mainly because it was unchilled. For this reason I think it’s best to stick to red in these kinds of places. The limoncello was a bit pricey at €4.

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Total cost with water and service €37. Conclusion: a nice place serving good food. My choices could have been a bit better,

Cantina della Tofa (Elementary B), 71 Vico della Tofa, Tel.081 406 840.

Yet another purveyor of Cucina Tipica Napoletana. The decor is modern and bright and the service is very friendly . The proprietor is an ex rugby player and the Asian waiter a runaway from the Sri Lankan army. They also have free Wi-Fi, an unusual bonus. It’s fairly cheap with most prices are in single figures. You could in theory eat three courses for €19.

You might want to get a table away from the door though, or suffer the car fumes (i gas di scarico) from the street outside, although they shut the door and switched the aircon on when I asked to be moved. None of the antipasti really inspired me so I went for Bruschette Classiche, diced tomatoes on hard, possibly stale bread, which was a bit heavy but fine (B-).

Bruschetta

Next, Pasta con Soffrito which was Ziti with diced liver (fegato), lungs (pulmone) and intestines in a tomato sauce. It isn’t so bad if you don’t think about it too much (B).

Soffrito

Polpette a Ragu meatballs in tomato sauce, never good to look at but always very tasty (B).

Meatballs

For my contorno, yet another dish of Friarelli which is really nice when sprinkled with peperoncino. The house white is ok (C+) and the red is drinkable (C-).

 

To finish two types of Baba, the famous rum-soaked Neapolitan cake (Polish and Slavic in origin but brought to Naples by the Bourbon kings), with squirty cream and cherries on the side. It was ok (C) but I’ve had better, perhaps with better quality rum.

Baba

To go with this, a few slugs of complementary limoncello from a large bottle that was left on the table. Total cost, a paltry €35.

Limoncello

Conclusion: a nice spot which I will return to because of its friendliness, but other local places are probably better, as the lack of customers might signify. And the fumes from the street can really spoil the experience.

See also my Pignasecca post for a couple more trattorias nearby that are of a similar ilk.

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