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Naples; Downtown Dining

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Naples; Downtown Dining

sarafinadh | Jun 19, 2016 10:51 AM

I have mixed feelings about this review. I wanted to enjoy Naples, I really did. My only other visit was a day in transit from Naples to Rome, and hectic, thru no fault of Naples.

This time we planned 3 days.

Dinner the First; We arrived on a Wednesday night, took a hike to get our feet wet, got stopped by locals who were very concerned for our safety and, even though we were wearing ordinary things (pulsar watch, costume gold hoop earrings) we were warned to hide them and keep our bags in front of us and watch everyone carefully and not go (insert whatever direction we seemed to be heading) especially at night. We ended as planned in the old quarter and went to Di Matteo for the Marguerite pizza with buffalo mozzarella, and a plate of the mixed fritti; empty squash blossoms, creamy slices of eggplant and potato fritters. The fritti was light and crisp and hot. It all tasted good. The pizza was thin crusted, blistered black, but not in a bad way, with a soft under cooked center. The toppings were good enough, but not in great balance. The basil consisted of a leaf. Over all? Underwhelming. The best thing was the eggplant and I don't even much like eggplant...

*Be aware that when you approach the place it looks like only take away. You actually walk right thru the middle of the kitchen back to the left to get to the two dining rooms, one on ground level, and one a flight of stairs away. Just say buona sera and hike thru. We would maybe return here if we were in the area.

Dessert was a stop at Antico Pasticceria Mazzaro down the street from Di Matteo and it was good. The selection of treats was generous even at 11pm and the canoli were good, if not great. The baba was a baba, not my thing but a good execution if you like sweet syrupy boozy desserts ; -). The best was a light lemon cake with a creamy filling. That was pretty memorable. Dopio was fine and the cioccolata calda was ok. Creamy and tasty but not as hot as it needs to be to really incorporate the cocoa. We would return here.

Thursday we had dinner at the Trattoria Medina on the south west corner of the intersection of Via Medina and Via della Incoronata. I specify the compass points because there were three Trattoria Medinas at the intersection. We had a penne pasta with pomodoro and cheese, and a nice plate of juicy little saugages over grilled sauted peppers and onion. Both were solid renditions. For dessert we ordered the baba. It was a white cake, somewhere between a sponge and an angel, drenched with sweet boozy syrup. No one much liked it, so it wasn't just that I am not a baba fan. We might return here.

Friday we had a beautiful caprese at Palazzo Petrucci. We selected it based mostly on our tight schedule and its nice outdoor appearance and proximity to a screen showing a wicked Italy/Sweden game. Tomatoes were tiny pointed red cherrys. The mozzarella was creamy and had a good mouth feel. The basil was pretty much non existent. I am a bit puzzled by how sparing the basil is on the salads. The fried calzonne was good. Light and crisp and a good balance of fillings. We had ricotta, pork belly and mozzarella. Tasty. We might return here.

Late that evening we had reservations at Caperi. It looked good. The menu was interesting. The chef's amuse was tasty; black rice cooked in a flavourful seafood based broth with some poached seabass was perched on top was good. We waited eagerly for the first course; three fish tartares. Coarse, irregularly chopped fish arrived, all light in colour with an over abundance of olive oil to bind it. Of the three, one was clearly off. The wafting ammonia scent was totally off-putting. The other two were passable. There was nothing in the way of seasonings, complementary incorporations or additions in any or them. Our addition of balsamic, salt and pepper made the two not spoiled mounds edible.

Seafood Risotto was next. The rice was cooked correctly and had a nice creamy bite to it, with plenty of flavour and a bit too much cheese melted in. The seafood was two bites of something, maybe pulpo, and then just overly rich cheese risotto.

We ended the meal there. Service was beyond lackadaisical, with the little girl belonging to a staff member getting far more attention than any of the food, or the few diners in the place. We would not EVER return here.

The next day we curtailed our visit and caught the 6:20am back to Rome instead of spending most of the day in Naples. Circumstances dictated we stay in the very central tourist area near the cruise dock and huge fort and old town, but the dismal food and the depressing dirty city blocks were so disappointing. I know there must be another Naples, but we did not find it on this trip and I don't know, with all the other places still to explore in Italy, we will venture there a third time.

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