August 12, 2012

At the north end of the Bay of Naples, along the Tyrrhenian seaside of southern Italy, lies the capital of Campania, Naples, a teeming city with close to four million inhabitants in the greater metropolitan area, surrounded by the fertile farmlands of Campania. Its climate is similar to ours, but with some summer rain. An ancient city, it’s had plenty of time to develop its own home cuisine. Pompeii’s mosaics depict the abundant fish, fruits, and farm animals of the area. More recently, it is the Neapolitans who invented the thin-crusted pizza and the espresso machine. Inland, the more rural parts of Naples depend on simple ingredients such as pasta or rice, vegetables, legumes, and only occasionally meat. Mainstays of home-cooked Neapolitan cooking include zucchini, eggplant, endive, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

There are two famous ragùs in Italy: Bolognese and Neapolitan. The Bolognese ragù is made with finely chopped meats, butter, diced vegetables, meat broth, and cream, is long cooked, and depends on the development of residues and deglazing for deep flavor. The Neapolitan is much different, and more closely associated with the Italian-American dish we know. A large piece of braising meat is slowly cooked with tomato paste, diced vegetables, meat broth, garlic, and stewed tomatoes. It too involves deglazing. But when the meat is tender, it is removed whole from the cooking liquids and set aside for the main course. The sauce is reduced and passed through a food mill, the resulting sugo served before the meat with a favorite durum pasta.

Caponata caprese
a piquant summer salad of heirloom tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and basil

Two-course ragù alla napoletana
pasta with ragù of tomatoes and meat juices, followed by . . .

. . . a main course of braised meats and vegetable contorni

seasonal Neapolitan dessert TBA

Prix fixe $40.

Served family-style. For groups of one to twelve. Whole table must order prix fixe menu. A modest and appropriate regional wine will be available as perfect accompaniment to the meal. Please join us!

call 510-547-5356

or reserve online