Restaurants & Bars

Naples/Capri report.

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Naples/Capri report.

JohnS | Oct 21, 2004 05:16 AM

Just got back from a week in Naples and a week in Capri. It was a bit of a mixed bag food wise. Before I begin, let me reiterate what should be uppermost in every Chowhound's mind, there are guides...and there are guides.

Nearly all of the places featured in the 'larger' guides were a disappointment. Some, such as Pizzeria Brandi in Naples, while not being awful, did not even get close to the hype. Others, such as Transatlantico on the Borgo Marinaro were truly awful. You would expect a simple escalope of veal with lemon to be prepared properly in the land of superb lemons...but no. It was a so-so piece of meat, dredged in flour, fried for a couple of seconds so the flour was still glutinous, then topped with a liberal squeezing of sulphite laced 'lemon juice', no doubt from a plastic lemon. Awful.

Of the rest, only two deserve a mention. Amici Miei on the Via Monte di Dio. A small family run trattoria that was excellent value. Things were kept ship shape by a rather ferocious looking matriarch. I had the simply grilled mixed meat platter, an Atkins dream! Other courses were equally good and the icing on the cake was unexpectedly low cost.

Opposite the Castel dell'Ovo are a number of restaurants that spill out on to the sidewalk. We ate at Antonio & Antonio, purely on the basis that it was full of Italians. Once again, the food was good and the bill unexpectedly low. One word of warning, they have a 'Pizza' menu but the daily specials are printed on a small ticket, in Italian only. I can recommend the braised octopus, delicious.

Capri was much of the same, guide book recommendations were, by and large, poor. I would not include La Capannina, which was pricey but decent enough. Add to that La Grottelle, (not to be confused with Al Grottino), which on a full-moonlit evening, provided one of the most romantic settings we have ever experienced. The food, whilst simply prepared, was of good quality and reasonably priced.

Da Gemma was a smokey horror show. A table full of chain smoking Austrians, indifferent service and food guaranteed a return visit was not on the cards.

Three places provided what I believe to be Chowhound territory. None will ever make Michelin, or peer down their noses if you are not suitably 'suited and booted'.

The first is La Pergola, a small place which is not too easy to locate. From the bus station, head down the via Roma, past the post office on the right where you will come across some steps and a sign for La Pergola. Follow the signs down the steps, (quite a few), until you reach la Pergola. Be careful, you will pass other restaurants on the way down. The food in La Pergola is home cooking, the service friendly and personal, the views over the bay and Marina Grande are lovely.

On the main square in Capri you cannot miss the bell tower. Climb the stairs to a small wine bar named La Pulalli. The food is good, if the portions are a little on the small side. the wine list is extensive and not overpriced, ask the owner Fabrizio for a recommendation, he is very knowledgeable. If you can bag an outside table overlooking the piazza, or the one table overlooking the marina, you are in for a treat.

Last is a small restaurant named Tarantino, just a few yards down via Bottegha, from the piazza. We found this place by following a group of policemen who were going there for lunch. We had a wonderful seafood spaghetti, bowl of fresh mussels, bottle of wine, mineral water, coffee's and grappa, all for under thirty euro's. When we mentioned it to our hotel concierge, he said, "Yes, we all go there but be sure and order what everyone else is, it will be fresh".

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